NEW YORK (AP) — What’s Jamie Dornan got to look forward to? The links.
While happy to be employed, the “Fifty Shades” hunk said he’s been working on back-to-back projects for what seems like forever and can’t wait to “play a bit of golf” as he chills at home in London with his wife and two young children later this year.
“They’ve been with me everywhere I’ve filmed but still I’d like to have more than just the weekends and the odd evening with them,” Dornan said during a recent media tour. “It’s time to be on daddy duty for a while.”
So what’s he been up to? Making the last two “Fifty Shades” movies, for starters, and wrapping the third season of “The Fall,” the BBC series that launched his career.
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There was also filming of a Netflix military thriller, “Jadotville,” in a role based on a real-life commandant of an Irish UN contingent in the Congo. And then there’s “Anthropoid,” out Friday, another true-to-life war role, this one in Nazi-occupied Prague.
Oh, and he squeezed in “The 9th Life of Louis Drax,” which has him playing a doctor with questionable judgment and cool mind-reading skills, against a boy in a coma.
Veering in and out of all of these worlds at a breakneck pace suits Dornan just fine.
“I love that aspect of it. My mind can be quite busy and sort of constantly kinetic and I think … I’ve picked a good profession to sort of enable that,” he said. “But sometimes it’s tricky.”
Tricky, as in putting on a Czech accent and tossing grenades as the vulnerable, inexperienced freedom fighter Jan Kubis, a national hero in the Czech Republic. The character and other Czechs in exile (including Cillian Murphy’s Josef Gabcik) parachute into their homeland in December 1941 to assassinate Reinhard Heydrich, the No. 3 SS man behind Hitler himself and the chief engineer of the Final Solution.
Unlike some Hollywood war shoot-em-ups, Dornan felt the weight of history, and the desire to get it right, as did his fellow Irishman, Murphy, and director Sean Ellis, who also co-wrote, served as director of photography and produced.
When it comes to mainstream war thrillers, Dornan said there isn’t always “such an intention to stick to the facts or tell a very truthful portrayal,” but he acknowledged certain realities that “you are still making two hours of entertainment, so there’s got to be compromises here or there, something else sprinkled in that elevates the story.”
That’s true, he said, even when the history is not generally known.
Such is the case of Operation Anthropoid and its handful of resistance fighters as they conjure great fearlessness and fight their own high anxiety, including a whopper of a panic attack for Dornan’s character.
The repercussions of the mission were great. Reich executed thousands of Czech civilians after the killing of Heydrich, known as the “Butcher of Prague.” His death came not in the moment as planned but a week later from infection in wounds inflicted by a grenade.
By one estimate, Hitler slaughtered 5,000 Czechs in the Anthropoid aftermath. More were arrested and sent to camps, including Jan’s girlfriend, Anna, played by Lenka Fafkova, a star in the Czech Republic.
“It’s one of the biggest stories in our history,” she said at the film’s New York premiere. “We all celebrate them.”
Ellis first learned of Anthropoid in 2001, when he watched a documentary, and became obsessed with the story. He meticulously researched the mission for years.
“It’s still a discussion going on today whether it was right or wrong,” he said. “They weren’t super-soldiers. They were normal people like you and me that were thrust into extraordinary situations. Ask yourself, ‘Could you do the same?'”
As for his role helping Dornan move beyond his BDSM-loving “Fifty Shades” character, Christian Grey, Ellis was happy to oblige.
“He’s just starting to hit his stride now,” Ellis said. “I’ve never seen ‘Fifty Shades’ so I can’t comment on it but I had seen ‘The Fall’ and that was what I cast him on.”
Dornan and Murphy, the former from Northern Ireland and the latter from Ireland, the former six years the latter’s junior at 34, enjoyed the World War II ride and their 39 days of shooting in Prague, including at locations where real events took place and where buildings still bear the scars.
“Just when I met Jamie, myself and my wife were completely obsessed with ‘The Fall’ and had been watching it, and then to get to meet him,” Murphy said. “Everyone said you’re going to get on famously.”