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Sixty Seconds with Ioan Gruffudd

The actor, 44, talks Harvey Weinstein, being Mister Fantastic and his new crime show, Harrow

Harrow’s just started on Alibi. What’s it about?

It’s about a forensic pathologist called Daniel Harrow who is in love with his work more than anyone in his life, which causes conflict with his ex-wife, estranged daughter and co-workers. He’s a brilliant character in the same vein as Sherlock but this is more grounded in reality and set in Brisbane in Australia.

What’s his problem?

The audience suspects something is up because a dead body arrives on his table and he’s not very excited about it — by the end of the first episode we suspect he murdered this guy. That’s the twist and we go on to see him avoid being discovered.

What were the challenges of playing a psychotic rapist in Liar?

The challenge was not to play someone evil but to play a normal human being with a normal life who has part of his brain that is off. This is how it was described to me by a forensic psychologist who works with these guys in prison. She said you’d never know these guys commit these crimes — they are CEOs and pillars of the community but there is one element about them that’s off. So I tried to maintain a sense of normalcy during some horrific scenes.

Fantastic beast: Superhero Ioan

Do you know what you’ll be doing in the second series?

We’re doing it next year and I’m curious to see how they’ll go about that given what happens at the end of series one. Possibly they’ll show some past history to explain how I became this way.

Was it nice to be working in London again?

I lived in London for 11 years, I studied there, I lived in Kilburn and I had a wonderful time but since I’ve moved to LA I haven’t looked back. I don’t think I could live in London again. My friends who are actors have had to move out to Kent to afford a decent lifestyle.

What are your thoughts looking back at the Fantastic Four films?

I still get recognised from the first Fantastic Four film, which we did in 2004, because it’s on TV so often. It’s nice when kids come up to me at airports excited they’re meeting Mister Fantastic. It’s quite a thrill to be recognised for that — it’s a stroke to the ego.

The sequel was considered to be unsuccessful. Did it have an adverse effect on your career?

It’s interesting. It made an absolute killing. They didn’t do a third because I don’t think they were in love with it and wanted to make the franchise darker. But the comic books are more family-orientated and lighter, they’re not as dark or violent as X-Men. Maybe they should have been true to the comic book itself, as it had an audience, but they rebooted it and it wasn’t as successful as our movies.

Your Fantastic Four co-star Chris Evans is Captain America now. Would you want to play another superhero?

It would be amazing to dip into that world. Just as an audience member I can’t believe the legs that franchise has — it’s extraordinary. As an actor I can’t make a living just making movies because there doesn’t seem to be anything that isn’t either a massive franchise movie or a low-budget indie. The fare is either Black Panther or a small independent movie no else is going to see. So on an economic level, television is where you can get some consistency — and also there’s some phenomenal writing.

Brave: Ioan’s wife Alice Evans

Your wife, Alice Evans, wrote about Harvey Weinstein last year. Did he cause problems for both your career and hers?

What Alice was saying when she wrote that piece was that we will never know if that one brief encounter with him when she rejected his advances played any part in me and her not testing for another Weinstein movie. The reason she came out was that it was at the beginning of the wave of people coming out about him and people weren’t being believed. Some of the women who had been brave enough to speak out were being eviscerated by his PR machine, which is why Alice said, ‘No, this was my encounter and this is how he operates.’

Has anything changed or will people in power always abuse their positions?

It certainly isn’t all over — but it is all over for him. In our industry currently I’m not sure there’s someone with as much power as him that’s being as abusive with it. But this happens across all industries and all walks of life. It’s something we all need to address.

You played the oboe when you were younger. How often do you play now?

I haven’t played for years. I always imagine I’ll buy a new one but I haven’t so far. I did Grade 8 and went on concert tour around Europe when I was at school.

What lessons has your career in showbiz taught you?

Never take anything for granted. Don’t rely on the fact the show is getting a second season until you’re on the plane on the way to shoot it. Nothing is guaranteed until the cheque has cleared.

Harrow is on Tuesdays at 9pm on Alibi