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Ioan Gruffudd ( ; born 6 October 1973) is a Welsh actor.

Educated at the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art, he started off in Welsh language productions, then came to international attention as Fifth Officer Harold Lowe in the film Titanic (1997), and as Lt. John Beales in Black Hawk Down (2001). However, he is probably best known for playing the role of Horatio Hornblower in Hornblower, the British made-for-TV films (1998–2003) based on C.S. Forester's novels.

Gruffudd's recent notable film roles include Lancelot in King Arthur (2004), Mister Fantastic (Reed Richards) in Fantastic Four (2005) and the sequel Fantastic Four: Rise of the Silver Surfer (2007), and British slavery abolitionist William Wilberforce in Amazing Grace (2006). He played Tony Blair in W. (2008).

Family, early life and education

Gruffudd was born on 6 October 1973 in the village of Llwydcoedmarker near the town of Aberdaremarker, in the county borough of Rhondda Cynon Taff, Mid Glamorgan, south Walesmarker. His family later moved to Cardiffmarker. Gruffudd's parents, Peter and Gillian Griffiths, were teachers. His father was headmaster at two Welsh comprehensive schools in South Wales, first at Ysgol Gyfun Llanharimarker then later at Ysgol Gyfun Rhydfelenmarker. He has two siblings; a brother, Alun, who is two years younger, and a sister, Siwan, who is seven years younger than he is.

The popular Welsh name "Ioan" is an equivalent of "John", and "Gruffudd" corresponds to the Anglicised "Griffith". He has been quoted as saying, "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."

Gruffudd attended Ysgol Gynradd Gymraeg Aberdar (Ynyslwyd) (now situated in Cwmdaremarker), Ysgol Gymraeg Melin Gruffydd, and Ysgol Gyfun Gymraeg Glantafmarker, where he sat his GCSEs and A-Levels. A natural musician, he was an accomplished oboist in his teens, attaining a Grade 8 level in the ABRSM music examinations and playing for the South Glamorgan Youth Orchestra for several years, but gave it up once acting took up most of his time. He also won prizes for his high baritone singing while at school, including one at the National Eisteddfod. He has said, "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."

Gruffudd's parents are committed Christians, and in his early 20s he was a member of the controversial London Church of Christ but that his mother later came to London to "sort [his] head out". In June 2007 he said that he "wouldn't describe myself as a deeply religious man".

Career

Gruffudd started his acting career at the age of 13 in a Welsh television film called Austin (1986) and then later moved on to the Welsh soap opera Pobol y Cwm (People of the Valley) from 1987 to 1994. During this time, he was also active on stage, in school performances, and in the 1991 Urdd Eisteddfod production of Cwlwm. In 1992, at 18, he began attending the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art (RADA) in Londonmarker. However, he was only given small parts in the Academy's productions, and feeling isolated and directionless, almost dropped out several times. However, in 1995 in his final year, he was cast in Ibsen's Hedda Gabler as George (Jörgen) Tesman, the husband of Hedda, the lead character. This performance led to him being offered the lead role in the 1996 TV remake of Poldark.

After playing Oscar Wilde's lover John Gray in 1997's Wilde he took his first international role as Fifth Officer Harold Lowe in the blockbuster film Titanic. He later landed his best-known role as Horatio Hornblower in Hornblower, the Meridian production of the C.S. Forester novels (1998–2003), shown on ITV1 and A&E. Gruffudd has said: "It was quite something for an unknown actor to get the lead. So I will always be grateful to Hornblower. ... 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." Since February 20, 2007, Gruffudd has been making plans to obtain rights to the Horatio Hornblower novels in order to produce a film for the big screen.

Gruffudd's TV work includes playing the character Pip in the BBC TV production of Charles Dickens' Great Expectations (1999), Lt. John Feeley in BBC1's "Warriors" (1999) and architect Philip Bosinney in ITV's adaptation of The Forsyte Saga (2002). In 2001 he had a little roll as "highclass toy" in Westlife's videoclip "Uptowngirl". As regards films, he has starred in 102 Dalmatians (2000), Black Hawk Down (2001) and King Arthur (2004). In 2007 he starred in the historical drama Amazing Grace as William Wilberforce, the British slavery abolitionist, receiving critical acclaim for the role. Gruffudd has also portrayed characters of both Marvel Comics and DC Comics, having appeared as Mister Fantastic (Reed Richards) in Marvel's Fantastic Four (2005) and Fantastic Four: Rise of the Silver Surfer (2007), and provided the voice of Mister Miracle in DC's Justice League Unlimited (2004–2006).

Apart from television and film work, he also starred in the music video of Westlife's version of "Uptown Girl" (2001) alongside Claudia Schiffer, and on 7 July 2007 he was a presenter at the UK leg of Live Earth at Wembley Stadiummarker, Londonmarker.

Gruffudd is a native Welsh speaker. He was inducted into the Gorsedd Beirdd Ynys Prydain (the Bardic Order of Great Britain) at the highest rank of druid in the National Eisteddfod at Meifodmarker, Mid Walesmarker, on 4 August 2003, with the bardic name "Ioan". In July 2008 he featured in a promotional trailer in Welsh for BBC Wales alongside fellow Welshmen Matthew Rhys and Gethin Jones publicising the broadcaster's coverage of the 2008 National Eisteddfod of Wales in Cardiff.

Selected work

Film

Year(s)
of appearance
Film Role Awards and nominations
1997 Wilde John Gray
1997 Titanic Harold Godfrey Lowe, Fifth Officer of the RMS Titanicmarker
1999 Solomon & Gaenor Solomon Levinsky
2000 102 Dalmatians Kevin Shepherd
2001 Another Life Freddy Bywaters
2001 Very Annie Mary Hob
2001 Happy Now Sgt. Max Bracchi
2001 Black Hawk Down Lt. John Beales
2002 Shooters Freddy Guns
2002 The Gathering Dan Blakeley
2003 This Girl's Life Daniel
2004 King Arthur Lancelot
2005 Fantastic Four Reed Richards/Mister Fantastic
2006 The TV Set Richard McAllister
2006 Amazing Grace William Wilberforce
2007 Fantastic Four: Rise of the Silver Surfer Reed Richards/Mister Fantastic
2008 Agent Crush Agent Crush (voice)
2008 Fireflies in the Garden Addison
2008 The Secret of Moonacre Sir Benjamin
2008 W. Tony Blair


Some information in this table was obtained from . Retrieved on 15 May 2008.

Television

Year(s)
of appearance
Television programme or series Role Awards and nominations
1986 Austin Dafydd
1987–1994 Pobol y Cwm (People of the Valley) (1974–present) Gareth Wyn Harries
1996 Poldark Jeremy Poldark
1998 Hornblower: The Even Chance Midshipman Horatio Hornblower
1998 Hornblower: The Examination For Lieutenant Acting Lt. Horatio Hornblower
1999 Warriors Lt. John Feeley
1999 Hornblower: The Duchess and the Devil Acting Lt. Horatio Hornblower
1999 Hornblower: The Frogs and the Lobsters Lt. Horatio Hornblower
1999 Great Expectations Pip
2000 The Miracle Maker [voice]
2001 Hornblower: Mutiny 3rd Lt. Horatio Hornblower
2001 Hornblower: Retribution 3rd Lt. Horatio Hornblower
2002 Man and Boy Harry Silver
2002 The Forsyte Saga Phillip Bosinney
2003 Hornblower: Loyalty Commander Horatio Hornblower
2003 Hornblower: Duty Commander Horatio Hornblower
2004 Century City (2004–2005) Lukas Gold


Some information in this table was obtained from . Retrieved on 15 May 2008.

Theatre

Year(s)
of appearance
Performance Role Awards and nominations
1995 Hedda Gabler (1890)
by Henrik Ibsen
George (Jörgen) Tesman
?1995 ?Trouble Sleeping (1995)
by Nick Ward
National Theatre Studio, Londonmarker
[Unknown]
1996 The Decameron (first performed 1996)
by Nick Ward, based on the c.

1350–1353 novellas by Giovanni Boccaccio
Gate Theatre, Notting Hillmarker, Londonmarker
[Unknown]
2001 The Play Wot I Wrote (first performed 2001)
by Hamish McColl, Sean Foley and Eddie Braben
Wyndham's Theatremarker, Londonmarker
Mystery Guest (cameo appearance)


Some information in this table was obtained from

Personal life

Gruffudd currently lives with his wife, New Jerseymarker-born Britishmarker actress Alice Evans, in Los Angeles, Californiamarker. The couple met during the production of 102 Dalmatians, and married on 14 September 2007 in Mexicomarker. One of Gruffudd's best men and speechmakers at the wedding was fellow Welsh actor Matthew Rhys, his long-time friend and former flatmate of eight years. On 20 April 2009, Gruffudd and his wife announced they were expecting their first child together. On 6th September 2009, the couple welcomed their first child, a girl, named Ella Betsi Janet Gruffudd. Janet was chosen as a middle name in honour of Evans' mother who died in 1999..

Gruffudd enjoys being in Los Angeles because "it's the easiest place in the world to drive, and it's a real pleasure to do that in my black Jag XK8. I've gone all out." He also admires the physicality and confidence of Americans, and enjoys being around them because he feels these qualities rub off on to him.

Notes

  1. . Retrieved on 14 May 2008.
  2. In a July 2005 newspaper interview, Gruffudd said: "I hadn't been going to chapel. A guy stopped me in the street and asked if I would like to go to church. I thought it was a sign. ... I knew it wasn't right but I didn't feel that it was so wrong, so other-worldly – that's how convincing the whole thing was. In the end my mum had to come up to London to sort my head out.":
  3. According to the Hamilton Hodell Talent Management website, Gruffudd was involved in an "untitled Nick Ward play" written and directed by Nick Ward and performed at the Royal National Studios: see The website Doollee.com indicates that Nick Ward developed his play Trouble Sleeping at the National Theatre Studio in London, and that it was staged in 1995 in the Warehouse Theatre in Croydon: see
  4. http://www.dailymail.co.uk/tvshowbiz/article-1212520/Fantastic-Ioan-Gruffudd-Alice-Evanss-joy-birth-unbelievably-beautiful-daughter-Ella-Betsi.html
  5. According to Gruffudd: "There's a physicality and confidence to Americans; they're very present. That's something I enjoy being around because it rubs off on you. Although an actor friend of mine visited recently and said, 'It's no wonder they write such terrible scripts these days, there's no pain! Everything's so nice you can't be bothered.'":


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