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Charles Dance says 34-year marriage ended after he ‘succumbed to temptations’

Charles Dance says 34-year marriage ended after he ‘succumbed to temptations’

Charles Dance has said his marriage of 34 years ended after he “succumbed to some temptations”.

The British actor, who is known for playing authoritative, often villainous, characters, has opened up about his marriage breakdown in a candid podcast interview.

Dance, whose credits include Gosford Park, Game of Thrones and The Crown, took accountability for the dissolution of his marriage to Joanna Haythorn, telling Gyles Brandreth on the Rosebud podcast: “For the most part it was a wonderful marriage.

“But then, unfortunately, I succumbed to some temptations along the way and the marriage ended because of my behaviour really.”

The couple, who have one son and a daughter, married in 1970. Dance, 77, remained married to Haythorn until he was forced to “come clean” about his indiscretion, which led to their separation in 2004.

He said they had grown apart before breaking up, stating: “We were living in Somerset, in this enormous place, and Jo had her study at one end and I had mine at the other end, and we became a bit like George and Martha [in] Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf? really after a while.

“Eventually I came back and I thought, ‘Really, we have to have [a] very serious conversation’. And I had to come clean and it came as a shock to Jo, bless her,” Dance said.

Dance said there was “no justification” for his behaviour, but said he did not realise he was attractive to the opposite sex until the mid-1980s when he starred as Sgt Guy Perron in British series The Jewel in the Crown.

“I don’t want to be seen to be scrabbling around for excuses,” he said, adding: “I never thought of myself as attractive. I really didn’t. [It] wasn’t until I did The Jewel In The Crown years later and people talked about me as being ‘the thinking woman’s crumpet’.

“I always felt very grateful if girls behaved as if they were attracted to me. But there is no justification for it, you know.

Charles Dance said marriage ended after ‘succumbing to some temptations’ (Getty Images)
Charles Dance said marriage ended after ‘succumbing to some temptations’ (Getty Images)

Addressing the temptations he “succumbed” to, Dance continued: “In our business, Gyles, temptation is often presented and you have to be pretty together and balanced, and have not a particularly powerful libido to not succumb to that.

“So, the marriage came to an end – huge regret. But after about 18 months, Jo and I, thankfully, became the best of friends, and we remain so, thank God.”

He said that, given the chance, he would do things differently, telling Brandreth: “Of course. Oh my goodness, the benefit of hindsight. It took me a long time to learn the law of cause and effect.”

Dance, who also has a daughter with Eleanor Boorman, is in a relationship with Italian star Alessandra Masi.