Date of Birth : Oct 6th 1973
Educated at the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art, he came to international attention as Fifth Officer Harold Lowe in the film Titanic (1997). However, he is probably best known for playing the role of Horatio Hornblower in Hornblower, the made-for-TV films (1998–2003) based on C.S. Forester’s novels.
Gruffudd’s recent notable film roles include Lancelot in King Arthur (2004), Reed Richards aka Mister Fantastic in Fantastic Four (2005) and the sequel Rise of the Silver Surfer (2007), and British slavery abolitionist William Wilberforce in Amazing Grace (2006).
Gruffudd was born on 6 October 1973 in the village of Llwydcoed near the town of Aberdare, in the county borough of Rhondda Cynon Taff, Mid Glamorgan, south Wales. His family later moved to Cardiff. The popular Welsh name “Ioan” is an equivalent of “John”, and “Gruffudd” corresponds to the Anglicized “Griffith”. He has been quoted as saying, “I’m determined not to lose my name. It’s who I am. It has neither aided my progress nor hampered it. It’s just who I am. My character… my make-up. My culture and heritage is a very rich one. So what if it’s difficult for people to pronounce? We all learned how to say Schwarzenegger.”
Gruffudd started his acting career at the age of 12 in a Welsh television film called Austin (1986) and then later moved on to the Welsh soap opera Pobol y Cwm (People of the Valley) from 1987 to 1994. At the age of 18, he attended the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art (RADA) in London. He won his first major English language role a few years later in the 1996 TV remake of Poldark.
After playing Oscar Wilde’s lover John Gray in 1997’s Wilde he took his first international role as Fifth Officer Harold Lowe in the blockbuster film Titanic. He later landed his best-known role as Horatio Hornblower in Hornblower, the Meridian production of the C.S. Forester novels (1998–2003), shown on ITV1 and A&E. Gruffudd 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.” Since February 20, 2007, Gruffudd has been making plans to obtain rights to the Horatio Hornblower novels in order to produce a film for the big screen.
Gruffudd’s TV work includes playing the character Pip in the BBC TV production of Charles Dickens’ Great Expectations (1999) and architect Philip Bosinney in ITV’s adaptation of The Forsyte Saga (2002). As regards films, he has starred in 102 Dalmatians (2000), Black Hawk Down (2001), King Arthur (2004), and Fantastic Four (2005). In 2007 he starred in the historical drama Amazing Grace as William Wilberforce, the British slavery abolitionist, receiving critical acclaim for the role. Gruffudd also reprised his role as Mister Fantastic for the sequel to Fantastic Four titled Fantastic Four: Rise of the Silver Surfer (2007).