Jamie Dornan Didn't Think He'd Ever Be as Famous as Ex-Girlfriend Keira Knightley

The actor pair dated between 2003 and 2005.

TBT: Keira Knightley & Jamie Dornan
Photo: Dave M. Benett/Getty Images

Who: Actor, model, and occasional musician Jamie Dornan, 38, and Oscar-nominated actress Keira Knightley, 35.

How They Met: The genetically gifted duo met through a scenario typical of the genetically gifted: at a photoshoot. They both appeared in an Asprey campaign that shot in August 2003 and began dating soon after.

Why We Loved Them: Though both parties were incredibly young and new to the spotlight when they met, Dornan and Knightley knew their boundaries with the press. Knightley wouldn’t even confirm that she and Dornan were dating, though when asked she did reportedly tell photographers, “Well, it looks that way, doesn't it?"

When They Peaked: I think the answer is obvious. On a grocery run in 2004, Dornan wore the world’s lowest-slung pair of jeans. Knightley, walking beside him, looked similarly of the era in a black jacket, graphic tee, denim miniskirt, boots, and black tights.

keira knightley and jamie dornan
Antony Jones/UK Press via Getty Images

Are you ready for exhibit B? I don’t think you are.

keira knightley and jamie dornan
Dave Hogan/Getty Images

The Breakup: News of Dornan and Knightley’s split broke in August 2005.

“Keira and Jamie have decided to call a halt to their relationship in its current phase but they remain completely committed to each other as friends and will continue to see each other in this capacity,” the Fifty Shades of Grey star’s rep told People at the time.

Dornan reportedly exercised his post-breakup angst in song. According to Vanity Fair, the actor wrote a song for his band Sons of Jim that included lyrics like “I can see your fancy friends trying to steal your innocence … you’re so weak around them.” Nice.

keira knightley and jamie dornan
Dave Benett/Getty Images

Years later, Dornan opened up to the Mail on Sunday regarding the “pressure” that came with dating Knightley. “You can feel a bit second-rate and that's what started to happen. It's not like I was bringing the bread to the table — and that can start to affect everything.”

He went on to explain that “the man is meant to be the Alpha in the relationship on the money and power front and clearly I was not. You feel you have to be dominant in other areas and that leads to problems.”

The following year, Dornan refuted the above “alpha” quote, telling the Evening Standard, “That was taken totally out of context. I didn't mean that.”

While it’s rumored that Knightley helped Dornan breakthrough with his acting career, or at least lent him the spotlight by association, the Irish star doesn’t see it that way. “Certainly from a professional standpoint I don’t think it has affected anything to do with anything,” he told the Evening Standard in 2012. That said, he was cognizant of the tabloid frenzy that followed his ex at the time.

keira knightley and jamie dornan
Dave Hogan/Getty Images

“It was a strange environment to find yourself in, being hounded and followed,” he told the Evening Standard in 2014. “It’s really hideous. F***ing hell, [the paparazzi] are cretins. I couldn’t have less respect for those guys. There are so many ways to make a living that don’t involve hiding in bushes opposite houses of 18-year-old girls with a camera in your hand. That’s not making a living, that’s making a choice to be a perverted f***head.”

“That scrutiny when you’re older will be easier to take,” he continued, “And I don’t think I’m ever going to be as famous as her.”

Where They Are Now:

Dornan wed his musician wife Amelia Warner in 2013. They share three daughters: Dulcie, 6, Elva, 4, and Alberta, 18 months.

The Fall actor has several projects on the horizon, including Kenneth Branagh-directed drama Belfast and a series called Dr. Death.

Knightley also got married in 2013, wedding musician James Righton. They welcomed daughter Edie in 2015 and Delilah in 2019.

The two-time Oscar nominee’s latest film, Misbehaviour, will be released on Sept. 25.

#TBT: Check in every Thursday as we throw it back to some of our favorite celebrity couples of all time.

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