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Jamie Dornan on his real-life S&M experience and how his wife encouraged him to take Christian Grey role

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As the elusive and sadistic Christian Trevelyan Grey, Jamie Dornan is bringing one of the kinkiest characters of modern times to the big screen.

So it's perhaps no surprise that he required a little help to throw himself into the role for the film adaptation of E L James' bestseller, Fifty Shades of Grey.

Speaking to Stylist's brother publication Shortlist this week, the 32-year-old actor revealed that he had an employed an S&M expert - plus accompanying submissive - to show him the ropes of sadomasochist arousal and sex.

“It’s such a big part of the character that I wanted to know what I was doing,” Dornan said. “This guy came along with his submissive, I sat in the corner with a beer and watched. My driver was on the other side of the door, God knows what he thought.”  

Fifty Shades of Grey

The Fifty Shades of Grey movie is out in February

Dornan was forced to make a snap decision over becoming Christian Grey after movie bosses called him at the last minute when Charlie Hunnam, originally cast in the role, abruptly left.

He tributes his actor wife Amelia Warner, who was heavily pregnant with their first child at the time, with helping him to make the call and move over to Vancouver to start film.

“Well, my wife is a brilliant, hugely understanding person,” he said. “Plus, she was an actress for 10 years, so she’s aware of what it’s like. A lot of people would have had a sh*t fit at 30-something weeks pregnant, hearing, ‘Darling, we’re going to Vancouver this week for four months – we’re going to have a Canadian baby and I’m going to do a film where, for parts of it, I will be naked.’ That’s a tough pitch, but my wife is an incredible person.”

He added that he had no regrets about signing onto the massively hyped film, which co-stars Dakota Johnson and hits our screens on Valentine's Day next year: “I’d have been mad not to do it.” 

Jamie Dornan

Jamie Dornan with his wife, Amelia Warner

As we await the release of Fifty Shades, Dornan will return to the small-screen in a very different role - that of chilling serial lady-killer Paul Spector in the second series of hit BBC thriller The Fall, starting on November 13.

Performing opposite Gillian Anderson as DSI Stella Gibson, Dornan embodies his creepy alter-ago so successfully, it's uncanny - and almost disturbing, not least to himself.

“I’m trying to think back to bad dates I’ve been on and what my feedback was,” he told Shortlist. “Was it ever, ‘He was creepy and I feared for my life?’ Obviously, I’m nothing like [Spector], but I think I’ve surprised even myself with the darkness that’s there.”

The Fall

Jamie Dornan opposite Gillian Anderson in The Fall

“I didn’t find it healthy to occupy that headspace at all times,” Dornan went on. “Also, I have quite a lot of energy and find it hard to sit still, but I’d made a choice with Spector that he is very still. So between takes I had to f*cking run in circles, run around corridors, scream constantly. It was probably really irritating, because I was going a bit mental.
 
“... Obviously what he [Spector] is doing is horrific – pure evil – but we get to see a human, relatable side to him at work and with his family, which makes it more chilling to watch. You are literally thinking that it could be your next-door neighbour. And I’ve had people say, ‘He’s a sick bastard, but I kind of wanted him to get away with it.’”
 
But intriguingly, Dornan has found that playing the serial killer, however terrifying, has only increased his admirers.
 
“It’s mad, but I don’t know if it’s about aesthetics,” he said. “I think it’s just very clever writing, based on the layers he’s got and the moments we see in his personal life.”
 
Dornan also talked about working with Anderson, Stylist's cover star this week, describing her as “incredibly talented, but surprisingly daft and childish”.

Read the full interview with Jamie Dornan in this week's Shortlist magazine

Photos: David Venni, BBC, Focus Features, Rex Features

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