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A Fantastic Role

Ioan Gruffudd, best known for his role as the leader of The Fantastic Four, reprises a bit of history with his latest part, as the Christian abolitionist William Wilberforce in the new film, Amazing Grace.

Every actor appreciates the occasional role that will, ahem, stretch him a bit, but Ioan Gruffudd really knows what that's like.

In 2005, he played the comic book hero Reed Richards—aka Mr. Fantastic, whose superpower is amazing elasticity—in Fantastic Four. He reprises the role in June in Fantastic Four: Rise of the Silver Surfer.

But while that role may have made the 33-year-old Welshman famous, his resume is dotted with numerous roles of a more historical nature—some real, some fictional. Gruffudd has played Lancelot (King Arthur), an officer on a doomed ship (Titanic), a famous writer (Wilde), and a British naval officer in the Napoleonic Wars (A&E's Hornblower miniseries). He's even been Jesus; Gruffudd provided the Lord's voice in the Welsh version of the animated film The Miracle Maker.

For his latest historical part, Gruffudd takes on the character of one of the greatest Christian activists you may have never heard of—William Wilberforce, the 18th century British abolitionist … and the subject of Amazing Grace, which opens in theaters this Friday, exactly 200 years to the day since his bill was passed, abolishing the British slave trade.

The film depicts not only Wilberforce's passion for social justice, but the motivation behind it—his devout faith. Gruffudd plays the part with zeal and believability—and a personal enthusiasm for the character himself. We recently spoke with Gruffudd about the movie, and about the man he plays.

Great movie! And you were terrific as Wilberforce?

Ioan Gruffudd: Thank you very much indeed! I'm delighted with it, and the response has been fantastic.

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