What do Richard Burton, Anthony Hopkins and Ioan Gruffudd have in common? They are all brilliant Welsh actors. The youngest, Ioan is quickly garnering a solid fan-base after a consistent run of hits over the past few years. His dashing good looks make Ioan great eye candy. Soulful eyes and a strong jaw-line are oh so macho and his multifaceted acting skills make him one guy to watch (and that so very easily).
He may be an upcoming Hollywood star, but his humble beginnings hark back to Aberdare, Wales. The eldest son of teachers, he has since relocated from the small village to his present Los Angeles abode. His remarkable journey however, from little known Welsh wannabe to the bonafide actor he is today is all the more notable. In showbiz where it is common practice to change one’s name in order to become more ‘user-friendly’, Ioan flatly refused. A patriotic Welshman proud of his heritage, his reasoning was that people learned to pronounce other difficult surnames such as Schwarzenegger, Ioan’s name was no more difficult. His grounded perspective makes him one of the most likable celebrities in England and why he is loved by co-stars and fans alike.
From playing small parts in BBC Cymru Wales TV to his most famous role as Horatio Hornblower in ITV’s blockbuster adaptation of the CS Forester’s novels, his commendable versatility guarantees him fantastic screen presence. Whether it be playing the poignant Pip in the BBC’s dramatization of Great Expectations, or providing the voice-over of God in a Welsh animation, there is nothing Ioan can’t do. His steady climb up the Hollywood ladder was galvanized with his delicately nuanced performance as Kevin Shepherd in Disney’s 102 Dalmatians (where coincidentally, he met his future wife Alice Evans, of Lost fame). Critically acclaimed performances in Black Hawk Down, Amazing Grace, The Fantastic Four: Rise of the Silver Surfer and ‘W’ have firmly put him on the map and on the radar of Hollywood directors. With more high profile projects due for imminent release, I look forward to seeing more of the wonderful Welshman.