When the Harvey Weinstein scandal broke in the US in Oct. 2017, one of the many women who came forward with stories of sexual abuse and harassment was The Originals star Alice Evans, 46.
But as the English actress accused the Hollywood mogul of once inviting her into a bathroom so he could “touch” and “kiss her,” Evans’s husband, Ioan Gruffudd, 44, was on the other side of the world filming drama Harrow in Brisbane. “I just wanted to hold her and hug her and say how proud I was of her and help her through it,” he says of the moment Evans revealed the 2002 incident, which she says saw both herself and Gruffudd banned from future Weinstein productions. “But she is a force of nature, my wife. In my opinion, she is the real star of our relationship.”
It was with her blessing, along with their daughters, Ella, 8, and Elsie, 4, that the Liar star ended up in Australia to play the bristly titular character in Harrow (starting Fri., March 9 at 8.30 PM on ABC). Before its premiere, Gruffudd talks marriage, acting, raising girls and staying sane with WHO’s Tiffany Dunk.
How did a Welsh-born, Los Angeles-based actor come to star in an Australian TV series?
I’d just got back to LA at the end of March after filming Liar in the UK and, literally, Harrow was the first script I read. I was reluctant because I knew he was a forensic pathologist and I’d played a forensic pathologist on a show called Forever. But I thought it was fantastic, so it was a no-brainer. Even though I had to leave my family here in LA and go all that distance to Brisbane, I’m so pleased I did. I was surrounded by the crème de la crème of Australian and New Zealand actors and we’re thrilled with how it turned out. Or I certainly am, anyway.
In Harrow, your character struggles to balance fatherhood and his career. Do you relate to that?
There was a little bit of art-imitating-life there. It was tough because my eldest daughter, Ella, was really struggling with me being away and the family dynamic being fractured—and there didn’t seem to be any end in sight. One of the things that kept us going, well, kept me going anyway, was realising how lucky I was to be working, doing something that I love and comparing it to other people’s circumstances. I have a photo of a female army officer coming home from a tour in Afghanistan, hugging her child at the airport in her fatigues. That’s something, which even at my lowest ebb, snaps you out of it quite quickly.
Does having an actress as a wife make the negotiation easier?
Yes, that’s a huge help. When we first got engaged [in 2007] there were a lot of people who were like, “Oh actors who are married can get quite difficult because there’s too many egos involved.” But we’ve just had a fantastic relationship.
You’ve both been very open about turning to IVF to have your girls.
This is a real struggle for many couples. Just because it’s the nature of the beast where people are marrying and starting families later on in life [Evans was 38, Gruffudd 36 when their eldest child arrived]. We wanted to share our struggle and also, in a positive light, show the possibility this can actually work.
Alice also shared her experiences with Harvey Weinstein. Was that tough?
She wanted to support the women who had come out and had physical things happen to them because some of them weren’t being believed or were being silenced in a way. Alice wanted to share her experience, just to prove this was his modus operandi. I was incredibly proud of her speaking about it.
At 13, you started your acting career first on a telemovie and then on Welsh-language soap People of the Valley.
Yes, it’s still ongoing on the BBC in Wales; it’s on every day. I was there on and off for about eight years.
What gave you the acting bug?
My mum reminds me, I came home from school one day and said, “They came to audition for a part on a soap opera, I put my hand up for it and I’ve got a recall at the BBC in a couple of days. Can you take me?” I don’t know what possessed me. Obviously I was a confident young man and I just went for it.