With The Tourist, Jamie Dornan Has Finally Shed His Christian Gray Problem


  • Jamie Dornan faced public scrutiny and typecasting after portraying Christian Grey in the Fifty Shades franchise.
  • Dornan is shedding his Christian Grey image through his outstanding performance in the TV series The Tourist.
  • The Tourist’s popularity and Dornan’s portrayal of a relatable character have helped separate him from the backlash of Fifty Shades.

Jamie Dornan is a talented Irish actor who made his screen debut in Sofia Coppola’s Marie Antoinette in 2006. After honing his craft and raising his profile over the following decade, Dornan became a famous household name by starring as Christian Grey in the mega-popular Fifty Shades of Grey franchise opposite Dakota Johnson. Based on the bestselling erotic novel series by E.L. James, the Fifty Shades saga follows the steamy sadomasochistic exploits of Anastasia Steele (Johnson), a college graduate who is swept off her feet by the dashing yet sexually daring billionaire, Christian Grey.

Despite landing a plum starring role in Fifty Shades of Grey, Dornan has faced public scrutiny and become somewhat pigeonholed after portraying the character three times in the cinematic franchise. Much like Robert Pattinson has done with Edward Cullen in the Twilight Saga, Dornan has worked hard to avoid typecasting and separate himself from his association with Christian Grey, a character that the moviegoing public has increasingly mocked for being campy, sleazy, and perverted.

Fortunately, Dornan has found refuge in The Tourist, an outstanding Australian TV crime series in which he stars as The Man, an Irish stranger with amnesia who suddenly awakes in an Australian hospital and must find answers about who he is and where he came from. Dornan gives such a terrific performance in The Tourist that he’s starting to overcome the stigma of his longstanding affiliation with Christian Grey and liberate himself from the shackles of public ridicule and professional typecast.

Jamie Dornan’s Biggest Roles Since Fifty Shades


Year of Release

A Haunting in Venice


Heart of Stone




Barb and Star Go to Vista del Mar


Trolls World Tour


Endings Beginnings




Robin Hood


A Private War




Jamie Dornan’s Persona Took a Hit Following Fifty Shades

Along with movie star Dakota Johnson, the success of the popular Fifty Shades franchise between 2015 and 2018 came with a reputational price for Jamie Dornan. By playing Christian Grey thrice in four years, Dornan’s public persona became conflated with his cinematic counterpart. Since it was Dornan’s first major recurring movie role and was not well known beforehand, the moviegoing masses instantly associated the actor with the fictional character of Christian Grey.

Dornan’s public persona was mocked, dismissed, and misperceived as the callous playboy he was portraying onscreen. The public loathed Dornan’s fictional character and couldn’t quite separate the artist from the art. Meanwhile, obsessive fans of the bestselling novels were irate over how Christian Grey was depicted onscreen. In a 2021 interview with People, Dornan addressed the public backlash, stating:

“There’s nothing like
Fifty Shades
in terms of, it was based on books and we were staying very close to these books. These books were loved by fandom. Really loved, obsessively loved and despised by every critic. Real critics hated the books. You know that you’re going to have these movies that are for the fans, that the fans are going to love, that are gonna make a ton of money. But you know that the critics will be just, you know, licking their lips and that’s exactly what happened. And we knew that was going to happen so you’re watching that play out and at times that’s f––– difficult.”

Despite the burden Dornan felt after feeling “the wrath of hatred” by the public, the actor does not regret his experience working on the Fifty Shades movies. Dornan understands that, despite the controversy and backlash, the financial success of Fifty Shades has afforded him more career opportunities, including his appearance in the recent Best Picture winner, Belfast, and the highly acclaimed crime series The Tourist. When speaking with GQ in 2021, Dornan stated:

“Look, put it this way: It’s done no harm to my career to be part of a movie franchise that has made more than $1 billion. Every working actor would say the same thing. It’s provided — a lot. There’s no shame in saying it’s transformed my life and my family’s life financially. I am very, very grateful for this and always will be.”

How The Tourist Has Helped Jamie Dornan Shed His Christian Grey Image

The Tourist

Release Date
March 3, 2022

Harry Williams, Jack Williams


By playing a much different character than Christian Grey in The Tourist, Jamie Dornan has begun to unburden himself from his association with Christian Grey. In The Tourist, Dornan depicts a mysterious stranger introduced as The Man. When the series begins, The Man suddenly awakes with amnesia in a rural Australian hospital with no memory of who he is or how he got there. Viewers are put directly into the shoes and first-person perspective of The Man, allowing for much more sympathy as the series unfolds. Moreover, as The Man begins to gather clues about his cryptic past, viewers are complicit with the character’s detective findings, which also gives them a sense of ownership of the mysterious cipher.


Best Jamie Dornan Performances, Ranked

Jamie Dornan is known as an erotic hero for 50 Shades, but has been around a while as an actor and a model. Here’s a look at his best performances.

None of these character dynamics were afforded to Dornan in the Fifty Shades series. Instead, the movie is seen through the eyes of protagonist Ana Steele, with Christian Grey’s mysterious seduction giving way to a harmfully abusive bad guy by the trilogy’s conclusion. In the simplest terms, Dornan becomes more unlikable the more time he plays Grey on screen. By contrast, Dornan becomes more likable the more viewers learn about The Man’s past in The Tourist. Apart from the significant increase in empathy for The Man compared to Christian Grey, the frequency and popularity of The Man continue to help separate the two characters in the eyes of the public.

The Important Popularity of The Tourist

For example, Dornan has portrayed Christian Grey in Fifty Shades for roughly six hours of screen time across three movies. With the recent completion of The Tourist Season 2, Dornan has played The Man for roughly 12 hours. By playing The Man twice as long as Christian Grey, Dornan is starting to reap the benefits of starring in a popular, acclaimed TV show and has begun to distance himself from the stigma associated with Fifty Shades. The Tourist also gives Dornan the chance to play an Irish character, the authenticity of which only makes his performance more believable and his character more compelling as a result. In Season 2, the action moves from Australia to Ireland, giving Dornan an even greater opportunity to play someone closer to himself in real life than Gray ever did.

The Tourist also became the most-watched TV drama in the UK in 2022, indicating long-term success as the show overhauls its setting in Season 2. When asked about the show’s immense popularity, Dornan told Digital Spy:

“Honestly, I could sit here and go, ‘There’s nothing else on TV like it’. But it was kind of its own thing. Jack and Harry, I feel, are in a really interesting creative vein at the moment. I love all kinds of TV, and I’m really up for watching really straight, linear, expected dramas, but I do think this just whacked people over the head a bit. Like, what is happening? What is going on? What am I meant to feel about this guy and the insane situations he’s found himself in? And these cartoon-like characters that are coming in and out of it?”

The Man stands by a curtain in The Tourist

By starring as the face of The Tourist and becoming synonymous with the acclaimed HBO Max original show, Dornan has admirably distanced himself from the backlash he experienced after starring in the Fifty Shades of Grey franchise. The public no longer only associates Dornan with the loathsome Christian Grey and instead has come to embrace the stellar Irish actor for his riveting performance as The Man, a character that is much more relatable and sympathetic. Even when sordid aspects of The Man’s past come to light, Dornan plays the character with such pathos and unpredictability that he remains a joy to watch throughout the TV series rather than a sadomasochistic pain to bear in the Fifty Shades movie series.

Stream on Netflix


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