Mr. Kiss Kiss Bang Bang

10.8.2006

By Glenn Waldron

The world of male supermodels, though well oiled, is a small one: Marcus Schenkenberg and Mark Wahlberg pretty much exhaust the A-list. With several major ad campaigns and a high-profile movie role, 24-year-old Jamie Dornan may be ready to join this exclusive men's club, but for now the Belfast native is having none of it. 'Me, a supermodel? Nah. I mean, people aren't really interested in male models that much, are they?' he asks.

Whatever Dornan himself believes, the right people are expressing more than a passing interest. There's the beyond-impressive array of ad campaigns: Calvin Klein ads in which he appears alongside Kate Moss ('brilliant to be around; such a great laugh')'the ultimate supermodel template'and David Sims's seductive black-and-whites for Dior Homme. Then there's his upcoming part in Sofia Coppola's Marie Antoinette. And then, of course, there's the extraordinarily famous ex-girlfriend (Keira Knightley). Oh, and did we mention that Jamie sings in a band? This boy is a veritable model-slash-everything.

Still, the male supermodels have never reached the celestial celebrity heights their female counterparts have. Not only that, they simply don't last as long: A decade after Linda's and Cindy's and Christy's careers climaxed, we're still on a first-name basis with them'something we've never had with the guys. Maybe it's because men's fashion still doesn't receive the headlines and the hype that surrounds women's wear. Maybe it's because mainstream media is still a bit uncomfortable with portraying men as clotheshorses'or sex objects.

Regardless, when I meet up with Jamie in the private section of a West London bar, he's managing to look both casual and supermodel-y at the same time: He's sprawled out on a sofa, chatting with a friend on his phone, and, even though he's nursing a hangover today, he still looks absolutely impeccable.

Jamie first started modeling after moving to London four years ago. After growing up in the small, close-knit environs of Belfast (his dad is an eminent gynecologist; his mother died when he was in his teens), he started off, as most British male models do, striking cheesy poses for the preteen magazine market. Jamie quickly caught the eye of legendary photographer Bruce Weber. Jamie is quick to acknowledge the role that gay men, from photographers such as Carter Smith to designers like Hedi Slimane, have played in accelerating his career. And with almost half a decade of modeling experience under his belt, he has naturally had plenty of time to adjust to the heightened interest'from both females and males'that such a job inevitably brings his way. 'I just love the attention!' he says. 'I don't really mind where it comes from.'

Next up, Jamie is appearing in Sofia Coppola's much-anticipated Marie Antoinette alongside Kirsten Dunst, Jason Schwartzman, and Judy Davis. Jamie plays Axel von Fersen, Antoinette's sometime boy-bangle. 'I pretty much ride in on a horse, shag her, go to a couple of parties, have some breakfast, and ride out,' he says. But Jamie is not just another model-turned-actor wannabe. 'I did a lot of stage stuff growing up. My auntie runs an amateur dramatic society back in Belfast, so I was doing Chekhov at 12 years old,' he says. Plus, acting is in the blood: His great-grandmother was 1940s movie star Greer Garson (Mrs. Miniver; Goodbye, Mr. Chips). If the film career doesn't pan out, he can always fall back on his musical talents. Since his late teens, Jamie has been playing in a 'Dylanesque' folk-pop band called Sons of Jim with his best friend, David. Having recently signed with management in Los Angeles, they work together at every opportunity.

With so many projects currently in the works, life seems close to perfect for Jamie right now, except in one significant area. 'I really need a girlfriend,' he says earnestly. 'I can appreciate going out and having fun with'whoever, but there's a real side of me that needs the relationship part.' After meeting actress Keira Knightley on a shoot, the pair dated for two years. (They still remain good friends.) Girlfriend or not, he's happy to go wherever life takes him. 'I've already been dealt a lot of great hands and I just hope that will continue,' he says. 'As long as I don't do anything to fuck it up''

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