Happy Happy Birthday to “Forever” star Ioan Gruffudd!

Written by Cecelia Lawshe   // October 6, 2014

Ioan Gruffudd, Forever

Happy 41st Happy Birthday to the adorably sexy Ioan Gruffudd, star of ABC’s “Forever”!

While Dr. Henry Morgan may be 200 some years old, Ioan Gruffudd, the star of ABC’s “Forever,” is only 41! He was born October 6th, 1973, in South Wales, in Llwydcoed, near Aberdare, Cynon Valley, in the county borough of Rhondda Cynon Taf to be exact. His parents were teachers, and he’s the eldest of three, having a brother two years younger (Alun) and a sister seven years younger (Siwan).

Although the name Ioan is a popular Welsh name, equivalent to “John,” and his last name of Gruffudd is pronounced more like “Griffiths,” there was no way he was going to change it to make it easier for people to pronounce.

Ioan on his Welsh name and heritage

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’!

You can listen to the pronunciation of Ioan Gruffudd by clicking here.

In addition to being an accomplished actor, Ioan was an accomplished oboist as a teenager, where he achieved Grade 8 in the ABRSM music examinations and played for several years in the South Glamorgan Youth Orchestra. He has also won prizes for his high baritone singing such as the one he received at the National Eisteddfod. Check out the audio of his beautiful voice in the YouTube audio of him on “Glee” singing “You Are Woman, I Am Man” with Lea Michele, and a clip of him singing “Amazing Grace” from the movie of the same name!

Ioan on music and acting

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.

He started acting when he was 13 in a Welsh TV film in 1986. From 1987-1994 he was in a Welsh soap opera. In 1992, at 18, he started attending the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art (RADA) in London. In his last year there he was cast as George Tesman, Hedda Gabler’s husband in Ibsen’s “Hedda Gabler,” which led to the lead role in the TV remake of “Poldark” in 1996.

Ioan then played the role of John Gray, Oscar Wilde’s lover, in 1997, and then was cast as Fifth Officer Harold Lowe in the James Cameron blockbuster “Titanic.” Between 1998 and 2003 he played the title role of Horatio Hornblower in the “Hornblower” TV movies, working his way up from Midshipman Horatio Hornblower in 1998 to Commander Horatio Hornblower in 2003.

Ioan on Horatio Hornblower

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 film and TV accomplishments are too numerous to mention, but include Lancelot in “King Arthur,” Reed Richards “Mr. Fantastic” in “Fantastic Four” and “Fantastic Four: Rise of the Silver Surfer,” abolitionist William Wilberforce in “Amazing Grace,” Tony Blair in “W.” about President George W. Bush, Pip in Charles Dickens’ “Great Expectations” for BBC TV, Charles Mundi in “The Adventurer: The Curse of the Midas Box,” Andrew Martin in “Ringer” in 2011, and now immortal Dr. Henry Morgan in “Forever” on ABC. He has also starred in a music video of “Uptown Girl” with Claudia Schiffer.

But the film that changed his life was the 2000 film “102 Dalmations” because this is where he met his wife, Alice Evans who plays the Mother of all vampires Esther Mikaelson on The Originals! After going together for 7 years, she gave him an ultimatum, “If you don’t marry me by the end of the year you’re out.” So he got a ring the next day, and on New Years he dropped the ring in a Mojito while they were vacationing in Havana, Cuba. Check out Ioan’s story on Craig Ferguson below! They were married on September 14, 2007, in Mexico, and now have two beautiful daughters! Fellow Welsh actor and BFF Matthew Rhys, who plays Philip Jennings in “The Americans” on FX, was one of his best men. Ioan and Matthew were also flatmates for eight years.

Ioan’s first language is Welsh, and on August 4th, 2003, he was inducted into the Bardic Order of Great Brittain (“Gorsedd Beirdd Ynys Prydain”) at the highest rank of “druid” in the National Eisteddfod at Meifod, mid-Wales. His bardic name is “Ioan”! His BFF Matthew Rhys was also accepted as a member at the Welsh National Eisteddfod in 2008 for his contributions to Wales and the Welsh language.

What would his life have been like if he decided to stay with the oboe, or decided to be a singer? Although he would probably have been just as successful, if he hadn’t decided to concentrate on acting he probably would have never met Alice, and we wouldn’t have the joy and delight of seeing him every Tuesday on ABC’s “Forever” at 10/9c!

YouTube audio of “You Are Woman, I Am Man” from Glee

YouTube of Ioan singing “Amazing Grace”

Ioan Gruffudd Interview with Craig Ferguson

Ioan and the Mojito

Ioan Gruffudd – Dwedwch Ie dros Gymru – Speaking Welsh

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