My double delight! Ioan Gruffudd on his wife's success with IVF and his latest role opposite sexy twin sisters.
22:49 GMT, 23 March 2012
You’d be hard pushed to find a more genuinely charming actor than Ioan Gruffudd. Courteous and with impeccable manners, he’s a flurry of door-opening and ‘after yous’ when we meet.
Of course the lilting Welsh accent and dark, magnetic looks that catapulted him to fame in the ITV series Hornblower don’t do him any harm either. One interviewer was so taken with him, they swooned that Ioan was ‘perfect’.
His charm is all the more impressive today given Ioan had spent the previous night in hospital. While his wife, actress Alice Evans, was away in Atlanta shooting the TV series The Vampire Diaries, their two-year-old daughter Ella Betsi was suddenly beset with breathing difficulties – the local hospital eventually diagnosing her with the respiratory condition, croup.
Sarah Michelle Gellar in Ringer
‘It’s quite a traumatic thing for Alice to have to leave Ella to go to work,’ he says, ‘so you can imagine how awful the phone call was when I had to tell her what had happened. I was terrified. But Ella’s fine now and she’ll be thrilled because her mum’s coming home tonight.’
Ella is Ioan and Alice’s only child. The couple underwent IVF treatment three years ago in order to conceive. ‘We’d wanted a baby for a while and after it didn’t happen for us naturally we said, “Let’s take what science has to offer.” Luckily for us, it worked the first time so it wasn’t a long, hard struggle,’ he says.
On discovering Alice was pregnant, there
was elation, ‘but that’s just the beginning of the journey,’ admits
Ioan. ‘Then there’s the whole other worry of, “Are we going to get to 12
weeks”. It was a long, anxious process and then Alice was on bed rest
for the last eight weeks because of high blood pressure, which is quite
She was with somebody else at the time so we didn’t get together
till about a year afterwards, though the sparks were there when we
'She then went through a 48-hour labour. We went in on the Friday morning for an induction because of the high blood pressure and it got to the point where they were saying, “We’ve got to move this along.” We tried to do it naturally but by the end, Alice was begging, “Oh, give me the b****y drugs!”. Ella finally arrived on Sunday morning at 3am and it was an incredible experience.’
Ioan dotes on Ella and when he shows me some footage of his daughter playing the drums with gusto it’s easy to see why, as she’s the image of her mother, the beautiful blonde star of hit US series Lost and Brothers & Sisters. Ella’s arrival, Ioan admits, did cause a shift in his priorities, ‘because my ambitions have kind of taken on a different form. Now, everything I do is for Ella’s sake instead of my own’.
He was keen to find TV work that kept
him close to his home in LA and as luck would have it his new series,
Ringer, does just that. Ioan plays a wealthy businessman with a
glamorous wife whose twin sister, a stripper and recovering alcoholic,
assumes her life after her sibling goes missing.
With wife Alice and daughter Ella; the couple met while filming 102 Dalmatians
The show is terrifically addictive
fun, not least for Ioan who gets to sleep with twins (albeit
unknowingly) – and what’s more, twins who are played by Buffy The
Vampire Slayer’s Sarah Michelle Gellar. ‘Also, his sister-in-law’s a lot
nicer to him than his wife was,’ he says. ‘So if a part of him does
suspect something’s up, he’s probably going to keep it to himself!
Ioan, 38, has come a long way since his days acting in Welsh language soap Pobol y Cwm (People Of The Valley). After playing the ship’s Fifth Officer in blockbuster movie Titanic, it was the 1998 series Hornblower – about a Royal Naval officer in the Napoleonic Wars – that catapulted him to worldwide fame. Films such as King Arthur followed, with Ioan playing Lancelot to Keira Knightley’s Guinevere, which in turn led to his lead role in the 2005 blockbuster Fantastic Four opposite Jessica Alba. He moved to Hollywood eight years ago with Alice, whom he met while filming the 2000 hit 102 Dalmatians.
‘She was with somebody else at the time [painter Pablo Picasso’s grandson, Olivier] so we didn’t get together till about a year afterwards, though the sparks were there when we worked together. She’d only acted in French and Italian films at the time [Alice studied languages at UCL and drama in Paris] and this was her first foray into English language films. She was a breath of fresh air and I kept thinking, “Who is this girl She’s amazing.”’
He and Alice would love Ella to have siblings, ‘though it’s not something we want to talk about openly because it’s such a drawn-out process. Often, once you do an IVF cycle, the body knows what to do and you get pregnant instantly, but it hasn’t been a success yet, so we’ll be considering our options.’
Interestingly, Ioan has another project due for release later this year – the film Foster about a married couple (Ioan and Little Miss Sunshine’s Toni Collette) seeking to adopt a child. ‘There are scenes in the movie that I don’t think I could have done as much justice to if I wasn’t a dad. Alice and I hadn’t gone down the foster or adoption route ourselves because we had success with IVF. But once you’ve had a child and want another, it doesn’t matter how that comes about. So every option is on the table.
‘For the moment though, I live for Ella and want to give her the best opportunities I possibly can,’ he says. ‘That’s my primary responsibility – to be like an archer’s bow to her arrow and shoot her out into the world.’
Ringer, Thursdays, 8pm, Sky Living.