Ioan Gruffudd has built up an impressive acting career over the last 20 years and is now one of Wales’ most popular actors.
He has been in the headlines this year due to the breakdown of his marriage, however his acting career should overshadow his personal life.
Gruffudd was born on 6th October 1973 in Llwydcoed, Aberdare. He is the eldest of three siblings.
Gruffudd’s parents, Peter and Gillian Gruffudd, were both teachers. His father was headmaster at two Welsh comprehensive schools in South Wales, first at Ysgol Gyfun Llanhari (in Llanharry, Rhondda Cynon Taf) then later at Ysgol Gyfun Rhydfelen (in Rhydfelin).
He has a brother, Alun, two years younger, and a sister, Siwan, who is seven years younger than him.
The Gruffudd siblings were raised in a Protestant non-conformist household. During his childhood, his family moved to Cardiff. Gruffudd attended Ysgol Gynradd Gymraeg Aberdar, Ysgol Gymraeg Melin Gruffydd, and Ysgol Gyfun Gymraeg Glantaf.
He was an accomplished oboist in his teens, achieving a Grade 8 level in the ABRSM music examinations and playing in the South Glamorgan Youth Orchestra for several years, but gave it up once acting took up most of his time.
He 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 London Church of Christ, but 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”.
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 his being offered the role of Jeremy Poldark in the 1996 TV remake of Poldark.
After playing Oscar Wilde’s lover John Gray in 1997’s Wilde he took a role as Fifth Officer Harold Lowe in James Cameron’s 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.
He 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 US President George W Bush, in which Gruffudd played Tony Blair.
In 2011, he played the financier of a cave dive in Sanctum. Gruffudd débuted his new male lead of Dr Andrew Earlham, a respected surgeon and widowed father of a teenage son, on 11 September 2017, in ITV’s new 6-part thriller miniseries, Liar.
Apart from television and film work, he starred in the music video of Westlife’s version of “Uptown Girl” (2001) alongside Claudia Schiffer.
On 7 July 2007 he was a presenter at the UK leg of Live Earth at Wembley Stadium, London.
Ioan married actress Alice Evans in September 2007.
The couple met during the production of 102 Dalmatians, while she was engaged and living with Olivier Picasso (a grandson of Pablo Picasso).
The couple have two daughters, Ella Betsi and Elsie Marigold. But on January 26, 2021 Alice claimed Ioan had “walked out” on the marriage.
She claimed that Ioan had given very few details about his decision – other than that he “no longer loves” her.
Alice tweeted: “Sad news. My beloved husband/soulmate of 20 years, Ioan Gruffudd, has announced he is to leave his family, starting next week.
“Me and our young daughters girls are very confused and sad. We haven’t been given a reason except that he ‘no longer loves me.’ I’m so sorry.”
Ioan Gruffudd has now taken legal action to end their marriage.
Personal issues aside, Gruffudd’s popularity in the acting world has never been stronger, and his career shows no sign of slowing down.