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.


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.

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