June 7, 2007 by  

Ioan Gruffadd – Amazing Grace


Ioan Gruffadd – Amazing Grace

Ioan Gruffadd stars as William Wilberforce in "Amazing Grace."

Move on over Hugh Grant. There is a new fresh face in town and just like you he’s sophisticated, charming…and from the U.K. His name is Ioan Gruffadd. And although his moniker might be difficult to pronounce at first (YO-an GRIFF-ith), it will be much easier to remember once you get to know him.

Generally known for his role as stretchable superhero Mr. Fantastic in 2005’s “Fantastic Four,” Gruffadd’s career started when he starred in one episode of a Welsh soap opera at the age of 21. From there, the actor went through the British TV airwaves before landing his first big break in the U.S. with a part in Ridley Scott’s 2001 war drama “Black Hawk Down.” He followed this with an iconic role as Sir Lancelot in 2004’s “King Arthur” alongside Clive Owen (“Children of Men”) and Keira Knightley (“Pirates of the Caribbean”).

Before the much-anticipated sequel “Fantastic Four: Rise of the Silver Surfer” reaches theaters this summer, Gruffadd, 33, stars as real-life 18th century slave trade abolitionist William Wilberforce in the dramatic biography “Amazing Grace.”

The story of William Wilberforce is one that I wasn’t familiar with and I think most Americans will probably say the same thing. Why do you think this story isn’t in our U.S. history books?

That’s a very good point and to be honest I was sort of ignorant to the story myself. I hadn’t learned it in school. More people know about the abolition of slavery in the states in the 1860’s. I’m really not quite sure. You would think with a name like Wilberforce people would remember it throughout history.

When you’re presented a script where you will have to portray a real person, what steps do you have to take to get the character right? Do you have to immerse yourself into his life?

As far as research and whatnot I had to read as much as I could about William Wilberforce and get inside his head and try and see what he thought. He was just an incredible man. From a very early age he was very bright. He knew that he could make a difference in Parliament. That’s why I think the abolitionist movement brought this cause to him.

Some people might say William Wilberforce had too perfect of a soul. Did you find any flaws in this man as you studied him?

I don’t think there were any flaws. When you read about him it’s a very humbling experience. He read everyday. He was always educating himself. He wrote in a journal everyday. He always tried to do  something positive. He was an all-around good soul. His morale fiber was incredibly strong.

The first “Fantastic Four” earned over $154 million at the box office in 2005. What was the  experience like working on the sequel, which could very well earn more than the original?

Well, the experience of making a movie of that nature can be a bit tedious. There are a lot of setups. There is a lot of waiting around. A bulk of the work is done afterwards with computer-generated images. The process itself isn’t necessarily a satisfying one from an acting point of view. Certainly, you must be committed to every moment of the movie. When they add the extra bit of me stretching my arm or doing my superpowers we have to believe that we are going through it. That way, when people see it for the first time, they can be amazed.





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