Jamie Dornan on The Fall: “You can’t fail to be slightly scarred by inhabiting someone like that”

As the sinister BBC2 drama returns tonight for a second series, the actor reveals how playing murderer Paul Spector has taken its toll

Playing serial killer Paul Spector in The Fall has taken its toll on Jamie Dornan. “You can’t fail to be left slightly scarred by inhabiting someone like that,” the 32-year-old model-turned-actor admitted at a Bafta screening of the first episode of the second series. “I do carry elements of him with me in a worrying way. I find him relatable… Be careful how you use that. I have a deep understanding of him and why he is the way he is. There are times when we were filming when I would scare myself, because some of Jamie’s reactions would be similar — I mean Paul’s!”

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Not only was Dornan asked by the drama’s scriptwriter Allan Cubitt to “trudge” through a “list of rotten books” in order to get into the mind of his character, he had to live with him for two series — the second of which opens with him holed up in a Scottish hideaway, with his family back in Northern Ireland. Not that being separated from his family bothers Spector, who, says Dornan, has “a distaste for everything except his ‘project’ ”.

Did he ever begin to think like his character? “I wouldn’t take it that far,” says Dornan. “But you do carry some of that anger and that hatred in you a little bit, especially after several months of playing him.” Still, he’s grateful for the part, which he was given despite his limited acting experience, and which has now launched him onto the world stage. “This job has totally transformed my professional horizons,” he smiles. “It’s totally changed my life.”

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Next year he will be seen as suave sex god Christian Grey in the much-anticipated movie adaptation of the EL James hit novel Fifty Shades of Grey, which will propel the blue-eyed boy from Belfast to even greater career highs. Considering the emotional turmoil of playing Spector, did he ever consider turning down the second series of The Fall, and will he do a third? “I’ve always considered myself a very loyal person and if Allan wants to keep writing Spector, I’m in.”