Jamie Dornan on his father’s death due to COVID, reflects on success

January 5, 2022
Jamie Dornan attends the Los Angeles premiere of "Belfast" on Nov. 08, 2021.


In the wake of his father’s death last year, success is a bittersweet pill to swallow for “Belfast” actor Jamie Dornan.

Dornan, who is nominated for a Golden Globe for the film, told The Telegraph that the critical acclaim he’s receiving hits differently in light of his father’s absence.

Dornan’s father, obstetrician and gynecologist Jim Dornan, died of COVID-19 in March 2021, just as Dornan had arrived in Australia to shoot the BBC mystery thriller “The Tourist,” according to the publication. Before his father’s death, the two had not seen each other for 18 months due to pandemic lockdowns and Dornan’s filming schedules.  

“It’s a strange thing to end the year with all this positivity, with so much praise for ‘Belfast’ and a lot of good talk about ‘The Tourist’ because on many levels it’s been the worst year of my life and the hardest,” Dornan told the outlet in an interview published Jan. 1.

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Dornan said his father’s kindhearted and empathetic nature was the quality that stood out most to him — so much so that he shaped his portrayal of Pa in “Belfast” around Jim’s personal essence.

“Truly, you could search far and wide, and it would be very hard to find something negative to say about my dad,” Dornan said. “He was a beacon of positivity: That is my overriding takeaway. His kindness, his willingness to talk to anybody and everybody — he used to say, you treat the person who cleans the court the same as you treat the judge.” 

Dornan added: “Dad had time for everybody.”

When Dornan was just 16 years old, Dornan’s mother, Lorna, died of pancreatic cancer, according to The Telegraph. He said his father’s positive spirit was there to console him: “Don’t let this be the thing that defines you,” his father told him at the time. 

“Sure, you wear it, and it shapes you and colors you forever, to lose your mother at such a young age, and life will never be the same again,” Dornan said. “But you can’t lead with it. I am probably a much stronger person as a result.”

He continued: “I was young and naïve, and I had to grow up really fast. I had to find a strength and resilience that I didn’t know I had.”

Dornan said he hopes to emulate his father’s optimism and resilience in his own life moving forward.

“I’ve tried to take that into my own life,” Dornan said. “We’re talking about a professor of medicine here, an insanely intelligent man. He was so positive.

“He would say, ‘This has happened, how do we move forward and get something good out of this?’ “

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