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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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Alec Baldwin: ‘Rust’ case arrives in court with trial against armorer Hannah Gutierrez-Reed | Culture

Two years and four months after the death of Halyna Hutchins, someone is finally sitting in the dock. On Wednesday, the first trial began after the cinematographer was accidentally shot while filming the movie Rust on October 21, 2021. That day, a real bullet was shot from a revolver held by Alec Baldwin, killing Hutchins and injuring Joel Souza, the director of the independent western. Hannah Gutierrez-Reed, the person in charge of the production’s armory who loaded the gun, will be the first to respond to the accusations made by New Mexico prosecutors in a trial that will extend until March 6.

On Wednesday, the trial in Santa Fe began with the process of selecting the 12 jurors who will decide whether Gutierrez-Reed was accountable for Hutchins’ death. The weapons supervisor was 24 years old when the accident occurred. She has been charged with one count of involuntary manslaughter and another of tampering with evidence. Gutierrez Reed has pleaded not guilty. If she is found guilty, the armorer could face up to 18 months in prison and a $5,000 fine. The trial against Alec Baldwin was set for August, but has been rescheduled following a judge reassignment.

For the jury selection process, the defense and the prosecution interviewed a pool of 70 residents from the Santa Fe area. It was a difficult process, as the lawyers sought to find people who had not been exposed to the intense media coverage surrounding the case. According to AP, the lawyers interviewed non-English speakers, a welder, a teacher, a graduate student and a mother who provides for six children. Sixteen jurors — including four alternates — were sworn in for trial.

Gutierrez-Reed’s defense team intends to argue that their client — one of the youngest and least powerful people on set — has been used as a scapegoat. Rust was only the second film the armorer had worked on. Gutierrez-Reed started in the industry in August 2021 with a western in Montana starring Nicolas Cage. However, her family is no stranger to the industry. Gutierrez-Reed’s stepfather is Thell Reed, an experienced Hollywood firearms consultant who worked on major productions such as L.A. Confidential, Tombstone and 3:10 to Yuma.

The defendant’s lawyers will seek to blame the film’s producers, including Baldwin, for the poor security measures on set, which was located on a Bonanza Creek ranch. On the day of the accident, the Rust camera crew had walked off the set to protest the poor safety conditions. Gutierrez-Reed admits to loading the .45 Colt revolver that killed Hutchins. However, her lawyers claim that she tried to get David Halls, first assistant director, to check the weapon before the rehearsal where the fateful accident took place. In a December 2022 deposition, Gutierrez-Reed said that Halls had said there was “no time” to do the weapons check.

Halls, another defendant in the case, pleaded guilty to one count of negligent use of a deadly weapon. He was sentenced to six months probation as part of a plea deal.

New Mexico prosecutors have other plans for the armorer. They intend to paint an unflattering profile of Gutierrez-Reed in court: that of a careless employee who may have been working under the influence of drugs. She is charged with evidence tampering for allegedly handing off drugs to another person on the day of the on-set shooting.

In the next two weeks, about 40 people will come to court to give testimony. This list of witnesses includes the police officers who found six real bullets among prop projectiles. These were found in boxes, on a belt and a shoulder bag that were part of Baldwin’s wardrobe. Authorities believe that one of the armorer’s responsibilities was to have differentiated between dummy rounds and real bullets.

The producers of the film were fined $100,000 by the government of New Mexico for failures in security protocols. The body in charge of workplace and occupational safety wrote a report claiming that those responsible for the film did not make any changes following a series of earlier accidents, where weapons had been fired due to carelessness.

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Yorkshire Ripper: ‘The Long Shadow’, the story of a serial killer | Culture

The Long Shadow is an excellent British series, and its viewers would do well to keep in the mind the decade in which its plot takes place. During the 1970s, London was experiencing a liberating social and culture shake-up, while in Yorkshire County, police were trying to arrest a serial murderer who targeted women. Complicated times, in which economic crisis and unemployment forced some housewives to turn to sex work to be able to feed their family. This was the demographic from which the so-called “Yorkshire Ripper” initially chose his victims.

Largely avoiding special effects and any morbid fixation, the sobering series, which can be seen on Amazon Prime and ITVX, makes use of remarkable locations and wardrobe from the aforementioned decade. To them, it adds an important take on the deep-rooted machismo that characterized the vast majority of the police officers who were involved in the long-lasting investigation. The cops display intolerable contempt towards women in general, and their female colleagues in particular. And before we satisfy ourselves by thinking that such relatively recent bias is a British thing, consider the fact that it wasn’t until 1974, when the Equal Credit Opportunity Act passed, that women’s right to open their own bank account without a signature from their husband was recognized in the United States. Not to mention, that there was no national plan to combat gender-based violence until just last year.

Peter Sutcliffe murdered a total of 13 women in Leeds, Bradford and Manchester, and it took five years for police to identify and arrest the assassin. In the series, investigators are played by heavyweight British actors like Toby Jones and David Morrissey, the latter in the role of George Olfield, who was the head of the police operation for the majority of those years, and who was highly criticized for his fixation on following clues that went nowhere. Special mention should be made of the splendid self-criticism exhibited in the seven episodes of The Long Shadow, which was written by George Kay and directed by Lewis Arnold, an apt account of the events that caused the very foundations of British society to tremble.

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‘The Bill Gates Problem’ – The Case Against World’s Richest Man

The Case Against World’s Richest Man

When Clinton assumed the presidency of the United States, there was eager anticipation from the Chinese, not for Clinton himself, but for Bill Gates. This was during the late 1990s, a period when the internet was still in its nascent stages, and the digital boom of the early 2000s had not yet reached its peak. The enigmatic persona that captivated the attention of the burgeoning Asian powerhouse is now portrayed in “The Bill Gates Problem” as a “domineering, brusque figure” whose demeanor is likened to “a cauldron of passions that freely erupts.” According to a former employee cited in the book, Gates was perceived as “a complete and utter jerk to people 70% of the time,” while the remaining 30% saw him as a “harmless, enjoyable, exceptionally intelligent nerd.”

The 1990s were also the decade of the conflict between Microsoft and the now defunct Netscape browser, which challenged what was already being openly described as the former’s monopolistic practices. Gates was investigated and accused in Congress for such practices; he ultimately won the battle, but the case harmed his reputation, and in 2000 he resigned as CEO of his company. From there he undertook an expansion of the foundation that he had established with his wife and to which he has dedicated his main efforts in the last two decades. In 2006, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation received the Prince of Asturias Award for International Cooperation.

With a personal fortune of $100 billion and tens of billions more in his private foundation, Gates has been one of the richest men in the world for decades, and the foundation has been the most generous organization of its kind, specializing above all in health aid, education and child nutrition, with a large presence in Africa and India among other regions of what was formerly known as the Third World. Tim Schwab, a contributor to the weekly left-wing newspaper The Nation, undertook a detailed investigation to denounce something that in truth was already known: that American foundations are largely a way for billionaires to avoid taxes.

To prove this, he thoroughly looked into the accounts and procedures of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, the failures and occasional successes of its philanthropic policies, and came to the conclusion that behind this facade of help to the needy hides an operation of power. He is ruthless in his criticism, although accurate in his analysis of the growing inequality in the world. Absorbed by the revolutionary rhetoric, he laments that the Gates Foundation has remained “deadly silent” regarding movements such as Occupy Wall Street or Black Lives Matter, which demand social change in the face of the “excess wealth and ‘white savior’ mentality that drives Bill Gates’ philanthropic work.” He does attribute some good intentions, but his criticism is merciless, sometimes even coarse, while the absence of solutions for the problems he denounces — other than the calls for do-goodism — is frustrating.

His abilities as an investigative journalist are thus overshadowed by a somewhat naive militancy against the creative capitalism that Gates promotes and an evident intention to discredit not only his work but, above all, him. The demands he makes for transparency and the accusations of obscurity are dulled by the author himself in the pages he dedicates to Gates’ relationship with Jeffrey Epstein, the famous corruptor of minors at the service of the international jet set. Gates has explained his meetings and interviews with him on countless occasions, and in no case has any type of relationship, other than their commercial relations or some confusing efforts to be awarded the Nobel Peace Prize, been proved. Still, Schwab raises, with no evidence whatsoever, the possibility that their relationship “could have had something to do with Epstein’s principal activities in life: sexual gratification and the exercise of power.” The book is full of this kind of opinions and speculations, to the detriment of a more serious analysis of Gates’ mistakes in the management of his foundation, the problems of shielding the intellectual property of vaccines in the hands of the pharmaceutical industries and, ultimately, the objective power that big technology companies have in global society.

He signed a collaboration agreement with the RAE to improve Microsoft’s grammar checker and was interested in the substantial unity of the Spanish language in all the countries where almost 600 million people speak it. That man was very far from the sexist, arrogant, miserable predator that Schwab portrays. Nor did we deduce — and this can be applied to the personal adventure of Steve Jobs, Larry Page, Zuckerberg, Elon Musk or Jeff Bezos — that his life’s goal was world domination, as suggested by this book. If they have achieved it, or may achieve it, it is due to the dynamics of digital civilization and the objective difficulties in governing it. The deregulation of financial capitalism, which has increased inequality among humankind, is due to the incompetence of obsolete political institutions and to leaders who care more about their own fates than those of their people. The criticism against “lame and wasteful government bureaucracies” might be part of the propaganda promoted by the world’s wealthy, but lately we have also heard it from small-scale farmers across Europe.

In conclusion, we found the book to be more entertaining than interesting. It provides a lot of information — we’re not sure if it’s entirely verified — and plenty of cheap ideology. Above all, one can see the personal crusade of the author, determined to prove that Bill Gates is a problem for democracy and that millionaire philanthropists are a bunch of swindlers. The world needs their money; maybe managed by party bureaucracies, that much is not clear. Bill Gates’ money, that is, but not Bill Gates himself.


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