Taking the lead
Ioan Gruff udd tells HOLLY BYRNES how the starring role in Forever re- started his career
HE has the foppish good looks of Hugh Grant, the mannered intellect of Benedict Cumberbatch and just a little of Jude Law’s smouldering sex appeal thrown in for good measure.
So why has it taken this long for the US networks to discover the leadingman delights of Welsh heart- throb, Ioan Gruff udd – the hot lead in WIN’s murder mystery series, Forever?
The man made famous to UK and Australian audiences as the swashbuckling hero Horatio in the longrunning historical epic Hornblower is the fi rst to admit his career seemed to sink a little after the high- seas series ended in 2003 – only to be thrown a decent lifeline some 10 years later, with a guest role on SCT’s US whodunit Castle.
Gruff udd ( Welsh for Griffi th, whose fi rst name is pronounced Johann) is quite candid about his professional rebirth on the small screen – playing medical examiner Henry Morgan, “who studies the dead in criminal cases in order to work out the secret to his own immortality”.
“It was just one of those things …[ my career] had stuttered and stalled a little bit and I needed to change things up. The producers of [ Castle] wrote me a letter and said, ‘ Listen, we’re a great fan of yours and we’d love you to come in and play this part’,” he tells TV Guide.
What that role did, he says, was help studio executives see Gruff udd as “strong leading man material … to be seen in a sexual light”. Modestly, Mister Fantastic from the
Fantastic Four fi lms, says: “The characters I have played in the past have been probably more earnest and likable but never really this lustful in his essence.”
Following a similar template to Castle, the 41- year- old stars in Forever opposite Alana de la Garza’s attractive but complicated detective Jo Martinez.
It’s their characters’ shared pain rather than just sexual tension which should lure viewers. She’s a tough- talking New York cop who drinks away the grief of losing her husband, while he’s mourning his wife who left him sometime after 1965 ( whether she is alive or dead is a mystery).
There was just one twist Gruff udd baulked at when fi lming began – when his character dies in the course of a murder investigation, he must be reborn in water and in the buff .
On the page it was an interesting idea, but the reality of getting naked in the months after one of NY’s worst winters on record, the actor said, was a leap too far.
“We shot the pilot in March or April and it was still bloody freezing and they had this idea of putting me in the East River and I said, ‘ Well, there’s no way I’m doing that because a) it’s fi lthy but also b) I’ll die! You’ll fi nd I’m not so immortal and we’re only on the pilot’.”
They used green- screen technology to make the scene, but he still had to look like he was emerging from the murky depths – all in - 4C weather.
His choice of ugg boots on set earned him some ribbing from the cheeky crew, Gruff udd confessed.
“Everybody just gave me crap about that when I walked on set wearing those. … But I guess there comes a point where vanity goes out the window and there’s just a necessity to keep warm.”
WEDNESDAY, 8.45PM, WIN
Bare essentials: Ioan
Gruff udd’s Forever character is regularly
reborn in the buff .