James Dornan (born 1 May 1982) is an actor, model, and musician from Northern Ireland. He played Sheriff Graham Humbert in the ABC series Once Upon a Time (2011–2013), and serial killer Paul Spector in the BBC Two and RTÉ One crime drama series The Fall (2013–2016), the latter of which was nominated for British Academy Television Award for Best Actor. In film, he portrayed Axel von Fersen in Sofia Coppola’s Marie Antoinette (2006), Christian Grey in the Fifty Shades franchise (2015–2018), and Jan Kubiš in Anthropoid (2016).
Dornan was born in Holywood, County Down, Northern Ireland, and grew up in the suburbs of Belfast. He has two older sisters: Liesa, who works for Disney in London, and Jessica, a fashion designer based in Falmouth, England. His father, Jim Dornan, is an obstetrician and gynaecologist who had also considered becoming an actor.
Dornan was 16 when his mother, Lorna, died from pancreatic cancer. Dornan is a first cousin, twice removed, of actress Greer Garson. His grandparents on both sides of his family were Methodist lay preachers.
He attended and boarded at Methodist College Belfast, where he played rugby and participated in the drama department. He later attended Teesside University but dropped out and moved to London to train as an actor.
Dornan performed in the folk band Sons of Jim, until it disbanded in 2008. Sons of Jim supported Scottish singer-songwriter KT Tunstall on tour.
In 2001 he took part in the Channel 4 reality show Model Behaviour. He was eliminated but signed a modelling contract with Select Model Management. In 2003, he modelled for Abercrombie & Fitch with Malin Akerman. He then modelled for Aquascutum, Hugo Boss, and Armani. Notable works include ad campaigns with Dior Homme and Calvin Klein(with both Kate Moss and Eva Mendes), and he was labelled “The Golden Torso” by The New York Times.
Dornan appeared in commercials for Dolce & Gabanna, Zara, Banana Republic, Dior, Calvin Klein, and Levi’s Jeans with Lily Aldridge.
In 2006, Dornan was dubbed the “male Kate Moss” by GQ and in 2015 was ranked one of the “25 Biggest Male Models of All Time” by Vogue.
In 2018 it was announced that Dornan would be the new face of “Boss The Scent” for Hugo Boss alongside Dutch model Birgit Kos.
Dornan’s first acting role in a film was Count Axel Fersen in the Sofia Coppola film Marie Antoinette (2006). Dornan also appeared in the drama film Shadows in the Sun (2009), which starred three-time Academy Award nominee Jean Simmons. In 2008, he played the lead role of Ed in the Hammer Horror production Beyond the Rave.
In 2011, Dornan appeared in nine episodes of the ABC television series Once Upon a Time, playing the role of Sheriff Graham. While Graham from Storybrooke was killed by the town’s mayor Regina (The Evil Queen) in the episode “The Heart Is a Lonely Hunter”, Dornan stated that he would return as the Huntsman from the Enchanted Forest at some point, and he remained a regular on the series. He returned as The Huntsman for the season finale episode, “A Land Without Magic”.
Dornan stars alongside Gillian Anderson in the Northern Irish drama series The Fall, playing Paul Spector, a serial killer terrorising Belfast. In May 2013, the show was renewed for a second series halfway through the broadcast of series one.
On 23 October 2013, Dornan was cast as Christian Grey in the film adaptation of Fifty Shades of Grey, replacing Charlie Hunnam. Initially announced to be released on 1 August 2014, the film was later rescheduled and released on 13 February 2015. On 27 August 2014, it was announced that Dornan would play Dr. Allan Pascal in a Miramaxfilm titled The 9th Life of Louis Drax, a supernatural thriller based on a book of the same name. It was released on 2 September 2016. In November 2014, Dornan was #3 in People Magazine’s Sexiest Man Alive rankings.
In February 2015, it was confirmed that Dornan had signed on to reprise his role in the second and third installments of the Fifty Shades film franchise, Fifty Shades Darker, released in 2017, and Fifty Shades Freed, released in 2018.
In March 2015, it was reported that the BBC drama The Fall will return for a third series, revealing the fate of Dornan’s character. The third season originally aired on RTÉ One and BBC Two from 25 September to 28 October 2016.
In May 2017, it was reported that Dornan will co-star alongside Peter Dinklage in the HBO television film My Dinner with Hervé. Shooting for the film started in the next month.
In 2010, Dornan met English actress and singer-songwriter Amelia Warner and they became engaged in 2012, and married in 2013. They have two daughters.