What could have been! Jamie Dornan is best known for playing Christian Grey in the Fifty Shades of Grey series — but he nearly made a career out of being on reality TV.
During a recent appearance on Sirius XM’s Radio Andy, Dornan, 38, opened up about what led to him competing on a reality series in the early 2000s. “I’d been at university for a year. I used to play a lot of rugby at school. And I was very sporty and I was playing rugby at uni and drinking a lot. And I decided I was going to drop out of university ‘cause … it wasn’t the right space for me at the time,” the Barb & Star Go to Vista Del Mar actor said on Thursday, February 11. “And I was like, ‘F—k this. I’m going to like do something else in my life,’ but I didn’t have a plan.”
He added, “My dad was really worrying, like, ‘What’s your plan going to be?’ And it was just one of those weird things at that time, but my whole family were sort of gunning together, trying to work out what can Jamie do next.”
The Irish actor recalled how one of his sisters came across information about an open audition for an upcoming reality TV show called Model Behavior. The British series, which ran for two seasons between 2001 and 2002, awarded the winner a one-year contract with a modeling agency.
“This was sort of almost pre-reality TV. It wasn’t even being pitched to us. We didn’t really know what it was,” he explained. “My sister says, ‘You should go.’ And I said, ‘What is it?’ And she says, ‘To be a model.’ And I was like, ‘Why would I want to be a model?’… No kid where I’m from grows up wanting to be a model, I’ll tell you that. So, I was like, ‘No, I’m not doing it.’”
Dornan eventually joined after convincing one of his male pals to compete alongside him. The actor admitted that he “didn’t even do that well on the show” but his involvement pushed him to move to London afterward. Though he “hated” modeling, the Robin Hood star believed that is was “a bit of a gateway into” acting.
The Marie-Antoinette actor last detailed his past as a model back in 2018. While appearing on The Late Late Show With James Corden, he explained why he never took his modeling talents to the runway.
“There was a few reasons. I didn’t want to do it, actually,” he said at the time. “It didn’t appeal to me at all. It seemed like quite a lot of work. But also, above all else, I did go once to Fashion Week in Milan [and] stayed at this horrendous hotel called Hotel Lucky. There’s all these other guy models. It was a disgusting scene. I went for some castings, but I have a really unfortunate walk that is very, very bouncy.”
Luckily, Dornan found his calling as an actor and has gone on to appear in several prominent projects, including the show Once Upon a Time and the animated film Trolls World Tour. He previously opened up about the way in which he chooses his acting gigs after his breakthrough role in the Fifty Shades of Grey franchise.
“I feel like you don’t have a f—king clue what’s right until you read it and you’re like, ‘Oh, this is it. This is what I want to do next,’” he told Variety in April 2020. “I think I have a stronger sense of what’s not right for me. And one thing with this job is to challenge myself and one thing is to keep a very large element of variety.”