Ioan Gruffudd first came to the attention of audiences when he was cast in the title role of TV’s Horatio Hornblower, and went on to appear in many features including Black Hawk Down, King Arthur and as Dr Reed Richards aka Mr Fantastic in Fantastic Four.
In his new ABC series Forever, Ioan portrays Dr Henry Morgan, New York City’s star medical examiner, who while solving criminal cases is also trying to solve the mystery of his own existence for over 200 years; he is inexplicably immortal.
Paired with his new partner, Detective Jo Martinez (Alana De La Garza), Morgan must keep his secret from her.
Ioan came to the TV Critics tour to talk about his new drama, which premiers the week of September 22nd, 2014.
You’ve played characters who, while not immortal, have had some unusual physical properties. Did playing Mr Fantastic give you any insight into playing the physical peculiarities of this character?
It certainly made me appreciate the fact that I had a muscle suit on as Mr. Fantastic. (he laughs) Matt (Miller, the series writer/creator) has me stark naked coming out of the East River in this one.
So that becomes a reality where I’m not getting any younger. So there’s a commitment to the cause that has to take place, dieting, working out and looking after oneself.
But the beauty of it is that I, for some reason, lend myself to playing these very bright, smart, intelligent characters, quick witted, and I don’t know where that has come from, because I don’t have those traits personally.
Are you attracted to this kind of genre?
The element of fantasy or the element of another world or the past has come into play often in my career, and maybe it’s the way I look, or the way I look in period costumes, has certainly lent itself to this project in particular.
And it’s an aspect of it that I absolutely love and adore, and it certainly was a big draw for me when I first read the script.
What kind of nightmare is it to do a back story for someone who’s lived for over 200 years?
I think I’ll leave that to the writers, because I don’t think I’ll have time to do all that research.
But some of it is already there, like your character being in World War II, did you research that period?
If there are historical facts that we’re [referring] to, then of course you want to make sure those are correct, but we have a historian with us in the writers’ room.
He’s been brought in specifically for that, to help take us on journeys that we may not necessarily have thought of going on.
Would you like to live forever?
Well, no. Because we’re touching on the subject, clearly, in the show. I mean, it just feels too painful. It’s too much.
I assume that just beyond the mythology, you’re still going to solve a crime every week, which is kind of the appeal of Elementary, that no matter how weird Sherlock gets, we enjoy that aspect. We still like to see some crime solved.
I think that’s one of the fun elements of the show and what attracted me to the show, how bright this character is and how you can approach it from a totally different angle.
He’s using his experience and his wealth of knowledge over time to unravel the case. With all the technical jargon and everything, we have a medical examiner by our side that can help us through the physicality of a certain moment, but we don’t want to rely too heavily on that because of the magical, fantastical element that we have.
For example, cutting open the body. We won’t necessarily be able to show all of the fine details of doing that, but I certainly want to look as if I’ve done it for centuries.