Jamie Dornan Makes '50 Shades' Joke with Handcuffs in Award Show Speech: 'Going to Need a Participant'

The actor was honored Thursday at the 16th Annual U.S.-Ireland Alliance Oscar Wilde Awards for his role in the 2021 Academy Award-nominated film Belfast

StarTracks Jamie Dornan
Jamie Dornan. Photo: Alberto E. Rodriguez/Getty

Jamie Dornan got a little cheeky at the 16th Annual U.S.-Ireland Alliance Oscar Wilde Awards.

The 39-year-old actor was honored Thursday night at The Ebell Club in Los Angeles for his role in Belfast, a 2021 semi-autobiographical film from Kenneth Branagh about an Irish working-class family during the 1960s.

In his speech, Dornan noted that honorees previously received a highlight reel featuring key moments from their acting career. With none in store, he opted to improvise.

"In the absence of a reel, I'm just going to act out my entire career. Only the things you know best," he said before whipping out a pair of handcuffs, in a nod to his role in the Fifty Shades of Grey films.

"I'm going to need a participant from the audience," he quipped while holding the cuffs.

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Jamie Dornan and Amelia Warner
Jamie Dornan and wife Amelia Warner. Gregg DeGuire/FilmMagic

Dornan appeared in films of all kinds in the years between his starring roles in Belfast and the Fifty Shades of Grey franchise, from his work in the 2018 biographical film A Private War to voicing a troll named Chaz in the 2020 animated movie Trolls World Tour.

Speaking with PEOPLE Thursday on the green carpet ahead of the Oscar Wilde Awards, Dornan said he was initially "slightly non-committal in a good way" by not rushing to move to the U.S. as he found his footing in Hollywood.

"It was always just come out, spend a lot of time here, take on a load of meetings," he said. "So the longest I ever did was probably four or five months or something, maybe even three or four months, to be honest, in the early days."

"And then it felt like slightly non-committal in a good way: If you failed, you didn't fail as hard because you hadn't properly moved out there," Dornan explained.

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The actor said it took some "self-belief" to reach this point in his career, but now, he's pleased with his progress.

"My whole ethos in life is, 'Back yourself,' so I guess I backed myself to be able to make something happen," he said Thursday. "And I always felt I had something to offer ... things needed to fall into place, and you need a bit of luck in this time. So luckily it worked out in the end."

Dornan is also proud of the "important message" he helped to convey in his latest film Belfast — which is up for seven awards at this Sunday's Oscars, including Best Director for Branagh, 61, and Best Picture — telling PEOPLE that it was "a very cool thing to be a part of it."

"I am just beyond proud to be from that part of the world and to tell a story that resonated with so many people across the world, and maybe change some people's opinion of that part of the world, in the north of Ireland and Belfast, and the people and the hard-working families," the actor said.

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