Ioan Gruffudd blows his horn about 'Ringer,' Sarah Michelle Gellar, and his hope for more Hornblowing


Image Credit: JoJo Whilden/The CW

Sarah Michelle Gellar isn’t the only geek icon returning to television this fall in Ringer. Ioan Gruffudd — maybe best known to the masses for playing super-elastic egghead Reed Richards in two Fantastic Four movies — boasts a large following himself for playing author C.S. Forester’s fictional 18th/19th century British naval hero Horatio Hornblower in a series of eight impressively-produced Emmy-winning TV movies that aired on A&E from 1998 to 2003. Gruffudd, 37, loves being identified with the role — and would love to be playing it for years to come. The Welsh actor — whose other film credits include Titanic, Black Hawk Down, and King Arthur — tells EW that if Ringer is a smash, he’d like to leverage his career heat to rally interest and funding for more Hornblower films, which he says are quite expensive to make. 

“We have only scratched the surface of what we could do,” says Gruffudd, noting that the eight movies only cover three of Forester’s 11 Hornblower books, which chronicle the sailor’s rise from midshipman to admiral. “I began doing those films when I was 23, and I think it would be amazing for one actor to visit the same part over the course of his career, playing the character’s whole span of life. If Ringer is a success, and my star continues to rise, I might be in a position to put this together. I would really love to do it.”

Whether Ringer — which airs its second episode tonight — will become the hit Gruffudd wants it to be remains to be seen. Last week’s premiere did respectable business for The CW — an estimated 2.84 million viewers. Gruffudd plays Andrew Martin, a wealthy, maybe shady Manhattan businessman unhappily married to Siobhan, one of Gellar’s twin characters. Andrew has no clue that Siobhan has faked her death or that her sister Bridget has assumed her identity.

“Of course, being a leading man, I wanted to play Sarah’s parts! They’re fantastic!” Gruffudd says with a laugh. “On the page in the pilot, there wasn’t much to Andrew. He’s kind of an ambiguous character. So I spoke to the creators and they pitched an amazing arc for the series and my character. I was blown away, and I was overwhelmed by their interest in me to play this part.” What caused the Andrew/Siobhan marriage to sour? And how legit is Andrew’s wealth? Gruffudd declined to tease — but he does hope that his husband is hiding a mistress somewhere. Referring to Siobhan’s affair with her best friend’s husband (Kristoffer Polaha), Gruffudd quips: “Seeing that my wife is sleeping with someone else, I feel I should get some action somewhere else, as well.”

Gruffudd has nothing but praise for the actress who not only plays his cheating wife, but also serves as his boss, as Gellar is also one of Ringer’s exec producers: “I was kind of tongue tied when I first met her, the way you can be when you sit down with a superstar. Oh my god. It’s Buffy! Now we’re best buds. It’s a lovely, lovely feeling.” He says they have a lot in common. Both are married (Gellar, since 2002 to actor Freddie Prinze Jr.; Gruffudd, since 2007 to actress Alice Evans), both became parents in 2009. “It’s wonderful. We’re real work partners, who are in love with our family life,” he says. “We’re in this for the long haul. It’s all about the work; there’s not time to be wasted playing or mucking about.”

Read more:
‘Ringer’ premiere gets solid CW rating
Sarah Michelle Gellar dishes about going from ‘Buffy’ to ‘Ringer’ — EXCLUSIVE VIDEO
Want to see Sarah Michelle Gellar’s Comic-Con panel? — VIDEO

Comments (34 total) Add your comment
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  • sam

    Loved those Hornblower films, hope he does more. He is a really good actor and brings a lot to the parts he plays.

    • BJG

      I agree, Sam. The Hornblower movies can hold up against a Hollywood movie like Master and Commander. Goes to show that money and star power do not equal quality.

    • Hudson

      I would love to see more Hornblower movies. The first 8 were fantastic, and Gruffudd is now the right age to take on the next phases in Hornblower’s life. But which cable channel would make these?

  • Terri

    In spite of his small role in the pilot, I thought he had a strong presence and his ambiguous reactions to his wife/SMG left me intrigued. (Especially after learning sh e was having an affair and then … she’s pregnant? He wasn’t overjoyed. He wasn’t … emotional at all. What is going on in that … oh gosh, really handsome head ? ) So … along with the intriguing aspects of SMG, he’ a great reason to watch the show.

  • B

    So glad he’s not putting on an American accent in Ringer. His own is so nice. I loved the Hornblower films, and agree that it would be great for him to revisit the character at different life stages.

    • Brenda

      I’m also happy he’s being allowed to use his own accent instead of having to adopt some generic American one. I’m an American girl who’s a sucker for a man with a foreign accent. I love Ioan, and I initially watched the Ringer because of him. But, now I’m hooked on the show. I hope his Andrew and Bridget as Siobhan end up falling in love with each other.

      • mmm

        I didn’t catch the episode. Is he doing and English or Welsh accent. I’d be a bit surprised if he did a Welsh one which would be his ‘own’ accent. (just watched a promo video for him and he’s doing and English accent in that one and says he’s playing an Englishman so I suspect that’s the accent he uses in the show.)

        The first movie I saw him in was in Welsh with subtitles. Google for videos of him to find his natural accent.

      • Welsh FTW

        He’s playing a Brit, not a Welshman, which is upsetting to me, because I personally love Welsh accents but… I suppose if he’s to be a posh Englishman with lots of money… Welsh wouldn’t cut it :(

      • Craig

        There was a bit of discussion of , which seems to have been a cotibnamion of various adventurous seafaring men, but is one hell of a character. I suspect given Hornblower a more humble family origin is a nod to Nelson and Cook, although there’s not that much else particularly similar except the intellect.

  • jenjen

    The Hornblower films were very good and I loved him in the role. Would love to see more of those come out.

  • aleksa

    Can they find some excuse for him to speak Welsh on the show? Please?

    • mmm

      haha… sounds good to me. But he says he’s playing and Englishman so I doubt it. :-)

  • Sarah B

    More Hornblower?? Squee! Can Jamie Bamber come too??? Even if it was only in flashbacks, more Horatio and Archie would be so cool…

    • Gigi

      Archie was my favorite!! I was absolutely in love with him haha

  • Lily

    I’m watching Ringer specifically for him (and Nestor Carbonell).

    More Hornblower, please!!! I’ve watched my collector’s edition dozens of times already–the story needs to be continued!!

  • dee

    Hornblower was made by ITV & considering they’re raking in money from all over the world due to Downton Abbey “we cant afford it” shouldn’t be an excuse at the moment.

    • Summer

      Is money the only excuse?

      • My son is also named Bort

        Probably true. That’s the reason they say why they have cut right back on Marple & Poirot.

  • Suemarie

    I am a huge fan of his,after seeing King Arthur. Bought the Horatio H. series and absolutely loved it. He is gorgeous and talented.

  • Marie

    He was great in Hornblower – I’d love to see that series brought back to life. Bring Jamie Bamber back, too. From Archie to Apollo and back again.

    And I second those who’ve said it was nice to hear him speak in his own voice, with his own accent. Ringer is set in the US, we’re a multi-cultural society, it just isn’t very unusual to hear a variety of accents.

  • Mindy

    I loved him in the Hornblower movies. I loved the movies themselves. They were great. I own them on DVD. I would so love to see more. And I would love to see him back in that role.

  • df

    he`s hot!

  • Lucy

    I decided to give this show a try, and I’m so glad I did! I’m hooked!!! Ioan Gruffudd and his portrayal of Andrew is a big part of why I am watching now. I am completely intrigued by the Andrew/ Bridget relationship and the mystery surrounding all of the characters. (Henry, not so much!) I too hope they grow to love each other. I also want to see more of Nestor Carbonell; he’s also a very talented actor! Can’t wait for next week’s episode!

  • Michelle

    I loves me some SMG, but Ioan is the reason I’m sticking with Ringer. He’s awesome. I really need to watch the Hornblower movies now. *hangs head in shame for not watching sooner*

  • Normalman

    I’d much rather see more Hornblower movies or a full blown HBO Hornblower series than Ringer. Hornblower is one of fiction’s great heroes and Gruffudd was excellent in the role.

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