"As long as you understand that you find happiness through family, friends and love, then money is just a nice bonus." Ioan Gruffudd.
Welsh actor Ioan Gruffudd first became famous in the UK with his role as Horatio Hornblower in the phenomenally successful ITV/A&E British TV film series (1998-2003). The actor who played the ship officer who rescued Kate Winslet’s character in James Cameron's Oscar-winning blockbuster Titanic (1997) subsequently graced Hollywood, starring in such films as 102 Dalmatians (2000), Black Hawk Down (2001) and King Arthur (2004). He played the lead role of Reed Richards/Mr. Fantastic, the leader in Fantastic Four (2005), and will return in its upcoming sequel, Fantastic Four: Rise of the Silver Surfer (2007).
The 5' 11" tall, dark-haired heartthrob was People Magazine's “2001 Sexiest Import.” He was romantically linked to his RADA classmate Charlotte Hayward and is currently living with his fiancée, English actress Alice Evans (born on August 2, 1971; met during the production of 102 Dalmatians), in Los Angeles, California.
"Being attractive, it's not something I do consciously. It's incredibly flattering that people think I appeal to women. But that was a gift from my parents. My acting, my personality - that's what it's about." Ioan Gruffudd.
Childhood and Family:
"As a teacher's child I found that automatic respect for authority wasn't necessarily a good thing. My philosophy was all about pleasing everyone and getting it right, rather than challenging and asking questions. It's only now I'm getting the confidence to do that because, in America, they're not scared as a nation to ask questions and have a really heated debate." Ioan Gruffudd.
In Cardiff, Wales, UK, Ioan Gruffudd was born on October 6, 1973. His parents, Peter and Gillian Gruffudd, were Welsh language educators. The oldest child of the family, Ioan has two younger siblings: a sister named Siwan Gruffudd (born in 1980) and a brother called Alun Gruffudd (born in 1975). His grandparents ran a local amateur drama society in Cardiff.
"I'm determined not to lose my name. It's who I am. It has neither aided my progress nor hampered it. It's just who I am. My character. . . My make-up. My culture and heritage is a very rich one. So what if it's difficult for people to pronounce? We all learned how to say Schwarzenegger." Ioan Gruffudd.
Ioan attended Ysgol Melin Gruffydd, Cardiff, Wales, and Ysgol Gyfun Gymraeg Glantaf, Cardiff, Wales, where he sat his GCSEs and A Levels. He is also a graduate of London's Royal Academy of Dramatic Arts (RADA).
"I'm a show-off, but a good-natured one. I'm also indecisive, stubborn, passionate, loyal, a good mimic, and I hate confrontation. Is that enough?" Ioan Gruffudd.
Ioan is best friend with fellow Welsh actor Matthew Rhys, with whom he shared a flat in London. In his free time, he enjoys playing golf, reading and going to movies. He said: "I enjoy playing golf, reading and going to the movies. I like to escape. I'll go to movies on my own and watch two in a row, sometimes. I like to go off in, sort of, dreamland."
"As a Welshman, I grew up in a culture of singing and performing with music, and I think it was through this performing that I got my confidence as an actor." Ioan Gruffudd.
An accomplished singer and oboist while growing up, Ioan Gruffudd started his acting career at age 12 in a Welsh television film called Austin, followed by a role in the Welsh soap opera “Pobol Y Cwm” (People of the Valley). He later secured a five-year stint on the popular BBC soap opera "Pobol Y Cwm” (People of the Valley), playing a teenager called Gareth Wyn Harries. And after graduating from RADA, he returned to Wales for the BBC-2 drama "A Relative Stranger" (1996) before landing his first major English language role as Jeremy, the son to the title role in the 1996 ITV production of Winston Graham's historical novel, Poldark.
Gruffudd made his film debut as one of the titular role's lovers in Brian Gilbert's Wilde (1997), a biopic based on biographical notes by Richard Ellmann about the controversial and outlandish Irish-born poet, novelist and dramatist of the late 19th century (played by Stephen Fry). That same year, he took his first international role as Fifth Officer Harold Lowe who dredged Kate Winslet’s character out of the Atlantic in James Cameron's Oscar-winning blockbuster film Titanic.
"Yeah, I was lucky because I didn't have to spend hours in freezing water. There weren't many people my age on set so Kate, Leo and I hung out together. We would pile into Leo's dressing room, which was full of PlayStations, mini basketball hoops and the like." Ioan Gruffudd (on his Titanic experience).
The next year, Gruffudd got his best-known role as “Horatio Hornblower,” the British Royal Navy officer during the Napoleonic Wars in the ITV/A&E British TV film series which was adapted from C.S. Forester novels about 18th century tales of adventure on the high seas. He played the titular role in Hornblower: The Even Chance (1998), Hornblower: The Examination for Lieutenant (1998), Hornblower: The Duchess and the Devil (1999), Hornblower: The Frogs and the Lobsters (1999), Hornblower: Mutiny (2001), Hornblower: Retribution (2001; aired in USA on A&E), Hornblower: Loyalty (2003) and Hornblower: Duty (2003).
Being asked about his character Horatio Hornblower, Gruffudd explained: "I think people are attracted to the character because he's not a hero in the traditional sense. He's not a natural leader, he's just a young man with a very bright mind. He's compassionate, he hates injustice and he will stand up and fight when he's pushed to the limit." And when asked about continuing to portray Horatio Hornblower, Gruffudd said: “I would love to play this character through every stage of his life. I think it would be unique to have an actor playing him from the very early days as a midshipman; through till he's an Admiral. So, I would love to play this character till he perishes.”
His role as Horatio Hornblower made Gruffudd a star in the UK. He was offered the title role of a young Jew in 1911 Wales falls in love with a Welsh girl (played by Nia Roberts) in writer-director Paul Morrison's romantic drama Solomon and Gaenor. In the film, which was filmed twice, once with principal dialogue in English and once in Welsh, Gruffudd also delivers some of his lines in Yiddish. The movie later received a 1999 Oscar nomination as Best Foreign-Language Film.
Also in that year, Gruffudd co-starred as a British soldier in Bosnia in the BBC-1 war drama Warriors and had a leading role as a man whose obsessive interest in masturbation threatens his relationship with his wife in “Masturbation,” a segment of the British TV special “Love in the 21st Century.” Additionally, he starred as Pip, the orphan who is expected to become a blacksmith but secretly dreams of becoming a gentleman in BBC adaptation of Charles Dickens' 1860 novel, Great Expectations.
“I admitted a long time ago that I wanted to go to Hollywood because there are more opportunities there, and I wanted to work in movies. Mvies are my first love. And that's why I went. I don't feel any added pressure, because I've already admitted it in the first place. It's a nice feeling having people support you because you are a British actor trying to become an international star.” Ioan Gruffudd.
Gruffudd eventually arrived in Hollywood in the new millennium, supporting Glenn Close in 102 Dalmatians. In the Disney's sequel to the 1996 film 101 Dalmatians and the live-action remake of its 1961 animated feature, Gruffud played Kevin Shepherd, the man who operates an animal shelter that has fallen on hard times. Next, he was cast in Ridley Scott's acclaimed war/action movie, Black Hawk Down (2001; alongside Josh Hartnett, Ewan McGregor, Eric Bana and Tom Sizemore), based on the best-selling book by Mark Bowden which details an ill-fated U.S. Army mission in Somalia on October 3, 1993.
Meanwhile, he continued to land leading roles in U.K. productions, including in writer-director Philip Goodhew's crime drama Another Life (with Nick Moran and Imelda Staunton), the musical comedy TV-movie Very Annie Mary (as Matthew Rhys’ gay lover), Philippa Cousins' thriller movie Happy Now (Gruffudd played a local policeman who investigates a mysterious murder case). He also starred in Glenn Durfort and Colin Teague's thriller-drama Shooters, co-starred opposite Christina Ricci in Brian Gilbert's low-budget horror/thriller The Gathering, and the TV-movie version of Tony Parsons' novel, Man and Boy (Gruffudd starred as a television executive who was dumped by his wife and had to look after their young son).
After starring as the self-critical and earnest associate Lukas Gold on ABC short-lived legal drama set in Los Angeles in the year 2030, "Century City" (2004), Gruffudd returned to the big screen as Lancelot opposite Clive Owen in Antoine Fuqua's gritty King Arthur (also starring Keira Knightley). He then was cast as the scientific genius team leader Reed Richards (a.k.a. Mr. Fantastic), who can stretch his body into incredible lengths and shapes in Tim Story's film adaptation of Marvel Comic's Fantastic Four (2005; with Jessica Alba, Michael Chiklis, Chris Evans and Julian McMahon).
“I finished filming Fantastic Four (2005) last Christmas and I haven't worked since then and I'm starting to feel a bit angsty and wondering when the next job will come. Of course, you have to have the belief that yes, something will come up but, the reality is, that you just never know. It's that competitive out there.” Ioan Gruffudd.
2006 saw Gruffudd as William Wilberforce, the idealist who led efforts as a member of Parliament in 18th-century England to end slavery and the slave trade in the British empire in Michael Apted's thriller-drama film, Amazing Grace. He will soon complete the next sequel to Fantastic Four, Fantastic Four: Rise of the Silver Surfer, in which he will return as Reed Richards/Mr. Fantastic. The superhero film has a target release date of June 15, 2007.
"I was probably doing more to pigeonhole myself as a Welshman and a Welsh actor than anyone else! A lot of the stuff I said in the past sounded defensive - a young man's ideals about who I am and where I'm from. I realize I don't have to force that on people, but just use it as a safety net, to stride out into the world knowing that I have a strong sense of identity. Because we're all landlocked in this nation together and we should be celebrating it." Ioan Gruffudd.