He’s the Northern Irish actor who started out as a musician and model before breaking into TV and film. In addition to the Fifty Shades trilogy, he recently starred with Cillian Murphy in the World War 2 thriller Anthropoid, but his defining role is as se
Jamie Dornan on his creepy serial killer and the BBC crime drama that made his career.
“HE’S SO ADEPT AT TAKING LIFE AND ALSO HELPING PEOPLE THROUGH THE GRIEF OF LOSING SOMEONE ”
What can you tell us about serial killer Paul Spector in the third series of The Fall?
He’s such a complex character, from top to tail, and those complexities get revealed more and more over the three series. In Series 3, particularly, we get an insight into the mind of Spector. Questions are answered about why he is the way he is and the events of his life that have led him to the position that he’s in now. It’s such a treat to get to play someone who’s so layered – even after four years of playing him, I am still finding out more about the character.
Do you subscribe to the Method and remain in character for the entire duration of the shoot?
No! I don’t want to be Method and stay in character as Spector all the time. If I did, I wouldn’t have a wife any more.
So do you find it easy to shed the character at the end of the day?
Over the last four and a half years, I have found ways of locking myself into Spector’s psyche quickly, without too much build-up. But when I can, I jump out of his skin because I don’t think it’s appropriate to stay in it for longer than I have to.
Nevertheless, does Spector get into your head sometimes?
Yes. I woke up one morning, before we started filming, and on my chest were books about murderers. I was going to bed reading about all these horrible people, and of course it affects you.
Did you need to take time out from dwelling in the mind of a psychopath?
Yes. There would be times where I would see my mates. They’d want to go out for dinner and I had to say, “Look, I can’t do it. I need to lie in a bath and listen to Maria Callas and think about ‘happy’.”
Is Spector irredeemably evil?
It is hard to find redeeming qualities in Spector, but there are a few aspects of him which are commendable. For instance, he shows traces of being a good father at times. He approaches his job as a bereavement counsellor with professionalism. He provides good quality support to families who are grieving. That is Allan Cubitt’s genius as a writer. Spector is both so adept at taking life and also at helping people through the grief of losing someone.
Do you portray him as a monster?
I think it would be wrong to play him as a monster. One of the reasons that makes Spector compelling, and why I found him very alluring from the first moment I read the script five years ago, is that there are relatable aspects to him, aspects that other human beings can identify with to an extent.
Can you give us an example?
I always felt when I was playing those moments with his children that there
should be nothing else, there should be no undercurrent of menace or psychopathy. Why would there be? He’s a father talking to his children. So I don’t play him as totally monstrous. I’ve always tried to avoid that tag.
Do you think The Fall has given people the opportunity to see your hometown of Belfast in a new light?
Yes. Still today, when I say I am from Belfast, people say, “Oh God, how is it there? How was your upbringing? It must have been crazy?” You’re constantly defending it and trying to explain it is a great place, full of brilliant people. The show already has an energy to it from the fact that it’s set in Belfast and everyone knows its history. So, for me, it’s a total thrill to be there and to appreciate it, and to show there is so much more to it than what people think.
Has starring as Spector transformed your career?
Yes, The Fall changed my life. The crew are like family to me and I’m forever grateful that this show is part of my life.
Is the role that you are most eager to play the father of two young daughters?
Yes. Having children is like pressing the reset button. You’re like a totally different human being. The fundamentals of your life are altered overnight, all in the most positive way imaginable. I think that now I’ll have to do some stuff that’s more family friendly.
You have already finished two follow-ups to Fifty Shades Of Grey. Will you be appearing in any more?
No. We have done two movies back-toback now, and I’m actually finished with it. I move on very fast in my mind. As much as, from the outside, people think you are synonymous with one character, I’m very much like, ‘Right, that’s done’. I move on to the next project and worry about that character.
Finally, there have been reports that this may be the final series of The Fall. Can you imagine reprising the role of Spector in the future?
Absolutely. I would play that character until my dying days if I had the opportunity!
The Fall Series 3 is out now on DVD and Blu-ray.