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Has Jamie Dornan’s penance for ‘Fifty Shades of Grey’ finally paid off? | Culture

Jamie Dornan is a very ordinary guy. Far from collecting top-of-the-range cars or squandering his fortune on luxury labels, his most prized possessions are a horse, five chickens, three goats, a dog and a cat. He could afford a mansion in the Hollywood Hills, but the actor and former model lives on a peaceful farm in the English countryside with his three daughters and his wife, actress-turned-composer Amelia Warner. After a few years living through the hangover of the blockbuster Fifty Shades of Grey, he now returns as the protagonist of Belfast, a landmark new film directed by Kenneth Branagh. Some insiders are betting on a clean sweep for the Oscars, and just maybe he can shake off the tragic series of events that have marked his life and began long before he became Christian Grey.

Jamie was a happy child. He was born in Holywood in Northern Ireland – not to be confused with Hollywood – and raised in a Methodist family, he attended church regularly until he was six years old. His grandparents on both sides were preachers. But young Jamie was much more interested in sports, especially rugby, than in cultivating his faith. He also showed a precocious interest in acting. At Belfast Methodist College, he was an active member of the drama club. Although he was unaware of it himself, everyone else knew he was star material. That included his father, obstetrician and gynecologist Jim Dornan, who died last March of Covid-19 at the age of 73.

While his childhood was ordinary, everything changed in 1998. Shortly after his 16th birthday, his mother, Lorna, died suddenly of pancreatic cancer. “It’s something that affects you in a thousand different ways every day. I doubt I’ll ever come to terms with it, unless I go see a therapist who can explain how. Maybe it made me more determined… I still get very angry when I think about it. At my age, I get very frustrated that my mother isn’t here, because I have daughters that she hasn’t been able to meet. It makes me very sad,” he told EL PAÍS in 2016.

Jamie Dornan and Kate Moss at a Calvin Klein event in New York in 2016.
Jamie Dornan and Kate Moss at a Calvin Klein event in New York in 2016.Patrick McMullan (Patrick McMullan via Getty Image)

Then in 1999, Dornan lost four of his best friends from high school in a car accident. In 2019, on journalist Jay Rayner’s Out To Lunch podcast, he talked about how the back-to-back tragedies sunk him into depression: “I had a very rough couple of years that I guess I’m still dealing with, both of [those] things today, every day. I had this summer where I’d go out a lot, drink, not really achieve anything. I dropped out of university and I was doing a marketing degree and [had] no interest in any aspect of marketing, and I thought ‘Well fuck this, I’m going to leave’.” His two older sisters, Liesa (who works for Disney in London) and Jessica (a fashion designer based in Falmouth), staged an intervention.

Modest man

Dornan told The Guardian in 2014 that he has never considered himself particularly attractive. “I didn’t do particularly well with girls at school. I was always very young-looking. And my sister’s friends would always say: ‘You’re so cute.’ I fucking hated that. If you are a skinny, baby-faced teenager, the last thing you want to hear is that you’re cute.” His sisters begged to differ and persuaded him to enter the reality TV show Model Behaviour, which offered a prize of a one-year contract with the Select modeling agency and an appearance on the cover of GQ magazine. Liesa and Jessica thought that a change of scenery could be good for him, but he didn’t win.

Soon afterwards, however, he showed up at the agency’s London offices on his own and was signed. “Aged 21, I was doing some big, big campaigns – they were a huge deal – earning good money, but because I never really saw modeling as a career I guess I didn’t let it get to me too much,” he told GQ. Every time he went on a date or met a girl in a pub he would say he was a “landscape gardener or worked for Google.” Anything but admitting he was a model. He eventually started dating the actress Keira Knightley, and they were an item for two years.

As The New York Times reflected in a 2006 article entitled The Golden Torso, Dornan dazzled for brands like Dior, Calvin Klein, Armani and Abercrombie & Fitch because he seemed like a typical young man who could go unnoticed in a crowd. “He’s like the male Kate Moss,” Jim Moore, then creative director of GQ, said in that piece. “His proportions are a little off. He has a slight build. He’s on the small side for male models. But his torso is long, and so he looks taller, and he brings a relaxed quality to modeling. He knows what he’s there for, but unlike a lot of people, he’s not trying to be a male model. He is not modeling.”

And that was the key to his success. “I question why all of this has happened to me,” he told the US newspaper. “I don’t see myself as particularly good-looking. The reason it’s all worked so well for me is that I don’t take it all too seriously,” he added. “It’s a great business for now, a great way to make money and have a laugh. I put a lot of what’s happened so far to luck and right place, right time.”

Jamie Dornan (middle) attends the casting for the '9 Countries, 9 men, 1 Winner' Calvin Klein competition in 2009.
Jamie Dornan (middle) attends the casting for the ‘9 Countries, 9 men, 1 Winner’ Calvin Klein competition in 2009.Dave M. Benett (Getty Images)

He never walked the runway, but rather posed with a melancholy look for some of the most famous photographers in the industry. “I’m sure there are people who dream about it, but not me. I did well and I respect that, but I always did it with some reluctance. I wouldn’t go back to modeling in any way,” he told EL PAÍS in another interview in 2019. This stage of his life would allow him to devote himself to what he had always dreamed of: acting.

Killer seeks interpreter

In the aforementioned Guardian article, journalist and writer Nigel Farndale portrayed Dornan as a folksy, feminist and hyperactive man by nature. We know that he usually drinks beer, opens a bottle of wine after putting his daughters to bed and that he doesn’t work out at the gym because he doesn’t put on a gram when he gorges on junk food.

His first real opportunity to act came in the form of a cameo Sofia Coppola’s Marie Antoinette in 2006. But if there is one character that Dornan holds in high esteem, it’s playing psychopath family man Paul Spector in the British series The Fall, for which he received a BAFTA nomination. “That show has given me ev-er-y-thing,” he acknowledged in The Guardian in 2015. “I know that every opportunity I get from now on is because of The Fall.”

The early days were not easy because he had to prove that he was not just a pretty face. “In some ways, it benefits you, but in general it’s a big stigma. I’ve always found it infuriating that just because you’ve been a model for a few years, you can’t be a valid actor. Especially in the UK. In the US I’d say they don’t give a shit,” he told EL PAÍS.

Jamie Dornan and Dakota Johnson at the premiere of ‘Fifty Shades Freed’ in Paris in 2018.
Jamie Dornan and Dakota Johnson at the premiere of ‘Fifty Shades Freed’ in Paris in 2018.PATRICK KOVARIK (AFP via Getty Images)

When the first rumors of a possible film adaptation of Fifty Shades of Grey began surfacing, the whole world began to speculate who would play the protagonist. The debut novel was universally panned for being badly written, but it was still a literary phenomenon. The toxic relationship between secretive businessman Christian Grey and shy college girl Anastasia Steele revitalized erotic literature, a genre that had lain dormant for decades. Since its publication in 2011, the first installment alone has sold more than 165 million copies worldwide.

On September 2, 2013, the news was made public that Charlie Hunnam had been chosen to bring Christian Grey to life. But on October 12 of that same year, Hunnam dropped out. Days later, Dornan agreed to be his replacement. The first trailer of Fifty Shades of Grey accumulated more than 36 million views in its first week on YouTube in 2014. The teaser for Fifty Shades Darker, a sequel, reached 144 million in 24 hours in 2016. Dornan was fully aware of the monster he was facing, and that from minute one the press was going to attack him mercilessly.

“You do know what you are getting into and I did spend a lot of time weighing up whether to take the Fifty Shades role. The majority of people hated the books. And I’m not saying I don’t recognize why those books were so powerful for millions of people, but you aren’t going to have books that were horrifically critiqued turned into movies that will be critically acclaimed,” he told GQ, adding he had no regrets: “It’s done no harm to my career to be part of a movie franchise that has made more than $1 billion. Every working actor would say the same thing. It’s provided – a lot. There’s no shame in saying it’s transformed my life and my family’s life financially.”

He may downplay it now, but in 2015 he was stung by some of the reviews that were published when the first film was released. “One of them was ‘Jamie Dornan has the charisma of oatmeal,’ which – some people like oatmeal, so I thought it was kind of harsh. I remember that stuck with me,” he told Variety. Others said he had “the charisma of a hologram.” In 2016, with Fifty Shades Darker and Fifty Shades Freed still to be released, he tacitly agreed with his critics, telling EL PAÍS: “I don’t think I was right in Fifty Shades of Grey. I’m pretty sure it’s my worst performance to date. I don’t mind admitting it.”

Although he told GQ, “I am still paying penance for that choice,” he keeps getting sent scripts. Like Robert Pattinson and Kristen Stewart (the stars of the Twilight saga), or Daniel Radcliffe (who will be forever haunted by Harry Potter), Dornan has built a solid career outside of Hollywood blockbusters. Now his performance in Belfast is destined for Oscar glory, according to Insider. Soon enough, the guy who hated being a model may return to his farm with a golden statuette.

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Here’s when your favorite show may return as writers strike is on the verge of ending | Culture

A tentative agreement between striking screenwriters and Hollywood studios offers some hope that the industry’s dual walkouts may soon be over. But when will your favorite shows return?

Well, it’s complicated. First, the agreement needs to pass two key votes, and certain paused productions such as Deadpool 3 and Yellowjackets will still have to wait on actors to reach a deal with studios.

When is ‘Jimmy Kimmel Live’ coming back?

Once the contract is approved, work will resume more quickly for some writers than others. Late-night talk shows were the first to be affected when the strike began, and they may be among the first to return to air now. NBC’s The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon, ABC’s Jimmy Kimmel Live and The Late Show With Stephen Colbert on CBS could come back within days.

Saturday Night Live might be able to return for its 49th season, though some actors may not be able to appear. The actors strike limits promotional appearances that are the lifeblood of the late-night shows.

Shows that return while actors are still picketing could prove controversial, as happened with the planned resumptions of daytime shows including The Drew Barrymore Show and The Talk. Those plans were later abandoned.

One show that’s likely to make a speedy return? Real Time with Bill Maher. The host plotted a return without writers but ended up postponing once last week’s negotiations were set.

What about ‘Stranger Things’ and ‘Superman’?

Writers rooms for scripted shows that shut down at the strike’s onset, including Netflix’s Stranger Things, Severance on Apple TV+ and Abbott Elementary on ABC are also likely to reactivate quickly. But with no performers to act out the scripts, long delays between page and screen will be inevitable.

Film writers will also get back to work on their slower timeline, though those working on scripts or late revisions for already scheduled movies — including “Deadpool 3″ and “Superman: Legacy” — will certainly be hustling to avoid further release-date delays.

When are Drew Barrymore and other daytime shows coming back?

Barrymore’s planned return to her daytime television show became a rallying point for picketers earlier this month, prompting her to cancel her plans. The Talk and The Jennifer Hudson Show, which also employ some screenwriters, also called off plans to return.

Barrymore and the other shows have not announced their plans for returning. However, the Writers Guild of America has made it clear: Guild members cannot start working again on projects until the tentative contract is ratified.

That vote has not yet been scheduled.

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Milan fashion celebrated diversity and inclusion with refrain: Make more space for color and curves | Culture

More curvy models than ever showed up on Milan runways this season, due mostly to a single show by Brazilian designer Karoline Vitto, while designers of color showcased their work at collateral events meant to promote their visibility — along with diversity — in the backrooms of Italian fashion.

Wherever diversity and inclusion were being celebrated during Milan Fashion Week, which ended Sunday, there was one underlying refrain: Make more space.

Curvy models get outing at Karoline Vitto

“We made history! It was incredible,’’ world-renown curvy model Ashley Graham gushed as she embraced London-based Vitto after Sunday’s show. Graham is often the only curvy model on major fashion runways, but for this show she led a cast of models ranging in size from UK 10 to UK 24 (US 6 to US 20).

By comparison, some Milan brands typically size up to 48 Italian (US size 12), while some, notably Dolce & Gabbana which sponsored Vitto, has extended some looks up to an Italian size 52 (US 16).

Graham wore an edgy black ripped corset and long sheer skirt, while other models wore form-hugging jersey dresses fitted with S-shaped metallic fixtures that sculpted their curves. She used the same technique for bathing suits.

“It feels normal,’’ Graham said, calling on more designers to get more curves on the runway. “If I feel normal on the runway with this many girls, that means that there is something that doesn’t feel normal when I am on the runway with everybody else.”

Diversifying small brand profiles

After working in fashion for decades, Deborah Latouche launched her own brand after converting to Islam and realizing how hard it was to find clothes that were “luxury, high-end and modest.”

Latouche brand, Sabirah, was highlighted along with US brand BruceGlen at the Milan Fashion Hub for new and emerging designers, sponsored by Blanc Magazine’s Teneshia Carr and the Italian National Fashion Chamber. The Hub offered space to meet buyers and other people interested in new brands.

“Something like this is really important because small brands such as myself can get really overlooked,’’ said Latouche, who has shown her brand in London, where she is based. “We put a lot of work in but we don’t necessarily get a lot of recognition.

Being invited to Milan “is an amazing platform that gives us the potential to elevate and that is really important,’’ she said.

Twins Bruce and Glen Proctor have been working on their brand for 17 years, and relished the time in Milan showing their creations to a new audience while they also connect with their true creative intentions.

“For a longtime we did black and white, based on what we thought the industry wanted,” Bruce Glen said. Now they are doing what comes naturally, “Colors, prints and fur.’’

Carr said presentations where people can touch the wares are a great way to connect people with a new product, without the huge expense of a runway show.

“The fashion system isn’t working for anyone but the 1 percent. I am all for trying to make new systems where everyone gets paid and people get clothes that make them feel better,’’ she said.

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Hollywood Studios Reach Tentative Agreement With Screenwriters To End The Strike

The picket line of writers and actors outside Netflix offices in Los Angeles.

The picket line of writers and actors outside Netflix offices in Los Angeles.

A happy ending in Hollywood. The studios and the writers’ union have reached a tentative agreement to end the screenwriters’ strike that has brought the world of film and television in the United States to a halt for nearly five months.

After four days of negotiations, Hollywood studios and the Writers Guild of America (WGA) managed to set down the bases of a new collective agreement. The deal announced Sunday unblocks one of the longest labor conflicts in the industry, with the strike now at 146 days.

“We can say, with great pride, that this deal is exceptional, with meaningful gains and protections for writers in every sector of the membership” the WGA stated in a press release. The leadership of the screenwriters’ organization must ratify the pact on Tuesday by a vote. The studios must now focus on resolving the conflict with the actors’ union, which is still on strike, so that productions can resume operations.

The studios and the WGA resumed negotiations on Wednesday after months of tension and a failed attempt to reach an agreement in mid-August. This time, there was a greater sense of urgency from both sides, who were concerned that further disagreement could have stretched the strike to 2024.

The main executives of the four studios attended the meetings with this in mind to show their willingness to negotiate. The parties set the goal of drafting the new contract before the Yom Kippur holidays, which began Sunday afternoon.

The negotiations were attended by Bob Iger, from Disney; David Zaslav from Warner Bros. Discovery; Netflix’s Ted Sarandos and NBCUniversal’s Donna Langley. The studio heads were present for three days at the meetings, which were held at the offices of the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers (AMPTP).

Over the weekend, the studios were able to finalize the remaining details of the deal with the WGA. California Governor Gavin Newsom was also involved to ensure that both sides remained at the negotiating table. The strike has cost the state about $3 billion, according to a conservative estimate by California State University Northridge.

SAG-AFTRA actors and Writers Guild of America (WGA) writers rally during their ongoing strike, in Los Angeles, California, U.S. September 13, 2023.

SAG-AFTRA actors and Writers Guild of America (WGA) writers rally during their ongoing strike, in Los Angeles, California, U.S.

In the press release to announce the tentative agreement, the WGA made it clear that the strike is not over yet: “No one is to return to work until specifically authorized to by the Guild. We are still on strike until then.” The WGA’s 11,500 members must vote on the agreement.

This will happen after Tuesday, when the Negotiating Committee ratifies the deal once the final version of the text is ready. The deal is likely to be overwhelmingly approved by screenwriters, who have expressed their satisfaction for the resolution. Union members have also recognized the work of the Negotiating Committee, headed by Ellen Stutzaman.

While the strike continues until the deal is voted on, the WGA has brought an end to the picket lines at the gates of major studios in Los Angeles and New York, which have been in place since May 2.

If the strike had reached September 30, it would have become the longest in the history of the WGA, surpassing the 153 days of the 1988 strike. Actors, in the meantime, remain on strike, until they reach a deal with the studios.

According to the writers, the agreement was made possible after the studios agreed to reformulate the scope that artificial intelligence will have in the writing of content, and to set minimum rules for writers’ rooms.

During the strike, screenwriters complained that studios were abusing so-called mini rooms, a more compact version of a writers’ room. These mini rooms were used to develop more content for streaming platforms in less time and with fewer hands, which made the work more precarious. The new agreement establishes a minimum number of people who must write a television series.

One of the most insistent demands by the WGA was a review of the residual payment model. Residuals are compensation paid for the reuse of a credited writer’s work. The union argued that the previous scheme worked in the times of broadcast TV, but that adjustments needed to be made for the era of streaming. In the digital age, writers, producers and actors receive see hardly any compensation for shows that become hits on platforms.

The studios agreed to change the model to increase compensation depending on a show’s audience figures. This issue is also key to resolving the conflict with the actors’ union SAG-AFTRA, which has 160,000 members, and has been on strike for 72 days.

After the failed negotiations in August, the pickets at the doors of the studios became larger in September. The writers flexed their muscles when Drew Barrymore announced she would return to filming her CBS talk show. This provoked the anger of the scriptwriters, who argued that the popular actress was violating the strike. Barrymore defended herself by stating that many members of the production were suffering financial hardship after months without work. But she came under a lot of pressure.

After a week, Barrymore tearfully apologized in a video posted on social media and announced that she would not resume filming. Other television productions followed, reporting that they would not return until the strike was resolved.

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