Jamie Dornan: We had a picture of Kenneth Branagh and my dad on the wall when I was a boy

Actor Jamie Dornan has said life has come full circle now that he is starring in Kenneth Branagh’s new movie Belfast.

e told how he was inspired to follow in Sir Ken’s footsteps because a photograph of him with his late dad Jim took pride of place in their Holywood home.

Jamie (39) revealed: “My father was a doctor at the Royal Victoria Hospital for his whole career.

“There was a picture that was always up in our house of Ken, my dad, and five or six other doctors, cutting a ribbon from when Ken had come to open a wing of the hospital.

“It reinforced this idea that this guy, who has gone on to do such unbelievable things, was from Belfast. It was inspiring.”

Now Jamie will play Pa, a character based on Branagh’s own father, in his semi-autobiographical big screen drama, which depicts a typical working-class family in 1969 as The Troubles escalate.

Branagh, who moved to England aged nine, has called it his “most personal film” and alongside Jamie is local actor and Game Of Thrones star Ciaran Hinds and Dame Judi Dench.

Jamie described his character as “a very honest, humble man who is just trying to do the right thing” and added that despite the challenges of the time they lead a “quite glamorous lifestyle for a working-class North Belfast family”.

And he said that aspect was important to him as he has an ambition to start telling more positive and inspiring stories about Northern Ireland than might have been made in the past.


INSPIRING: Sir Kenneth Branagh

He explained: “Often characters portrayed in that part of the world, there’s this sort of bleakness. It gets a bit ‘poverty porn’.

“Going forward, with the stories I want to tell coming out of that part of the country, I want to get away from that idea that everything’s doom and gloom at home. That’s not how I remember home to be.

“It’s that thing of trying to elevate stories from the north of Ireland through a slightly different lens. Tell stories that people aren’t expecting from that part of the world.”

Jamie also admitted to Empire that he once audition for Branagh’s Thor movie, which starred Chris Hemsworth in the lead role, but added: “Not for Thor himself — one of Thor’s other lads.”

But he has won praise for his roles in TV crime drama The Fall and hit comedy movie Barb & Star Go To Vista Del Mar, as well as a leading role in raunchy blockbuster Fifty Shades Of Grey.

Last week it was revealed that Branagh’s Belfast had been criticised by top American movie magazine The Hollywood Reporter because of the local accents in the film, including that of young newcomer Jude Hill who plays Jamie’s on-screen son Buddy.

The review said: “Most of the story is told through Buddy’s eyes, and young Hill is a marvellous camera subject.

“Unfortunately, he also speaks in a thick Irish brogue that is not always easy for American ears to comprehend. Some of the other actors are equally difficult to understand.

“This is a movie that definitely would benefit from subtitles.”

Belfast is in cinemas from November 12

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Jamie Dornan: We had a picture of Kenneth Branagh and my dad on the wall when I was a boy