Continuing our Born This Day series, today we celebrate the birthday of Ioan Gruffudd, the Welsh actor best known for playing the role of Dr. Reed Richards, in the film Fantastic Four (2005) and the sequel Fantastic Four: Rise of the Silver Surfer (2007). Ioan Gruffudd also played the role of Andrew Martin in the US thriller television series Ringer (2011-2012) opposite Sarah Michelle Geller.
Gruffudd was born on 6 October 1973 in Llwydcoed, near Aberdare, Cynon Valley, in the county borough of Rhondda Cynon Tâf, South Wales. 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 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 language soap opera Pobol y Cwm (People of the Valley) from 1987 to 1994. In 1992, aged 18, he began attending the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art (RADA) in London. 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 the role of 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.”
His television work includes playing the character Pip in the BBC TV production of Charles Dickens’ Great Expectations (1999), Lt. John Feeley in BBC One’s “Warriors” (1999) and architect Philip Bosinney in ITV’s adaptation of The Forsyte Saga (2002). He has starred in the films 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 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 (2004-06).
In 2008, he appeared in the Julia Roberts-Ryan Reynolds film, Fireflies in the Garden. In 2008, he also appeared in The Secret of Moonacre. In 2009, he starred alongside Josh Brolin in W., a biopic about the life of U.S. President George W Bush, in which Gruffudd played Tony Blair. In 2011, he played the financier of a cave dive in Sanctum.
Between September 2011 and April 2012 Ioan Gruffudd played the role of Andrew Martin in the US thriller television series Ringer until the show’s cancellation in 2012.
In June 2012, Ioan filmed the fantasy adventure movie Mariah Mundi and the Midas Box throughout the South West of England, playing the role of Charles Mundi, the movie is schedule for release in 2013.
Gruffudd lives with his wife, actress Alice Evans, in Los Angeles, California. The couple met during the production of 102 Dalmatians, and married on 14 September 2007 in Mexico. On 20 April 2009, Gruffudd and his wife announced they were expecting their first child together.
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.” 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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