He is one of the most sought-after leading men – and known for being a lovely guy off screen, too.
However friends say Happy Valley star James Norton is quietly nursing heartbreak after splitting from fiancée Imogen Poots.
I’m told the couple, who shared a home in East London, parted ways before Christmas after ‘growing apart’.
Both have been working almost constantly, with James, 38, filming the Bob Marley biopic One Love which premiered in Los Angeles and London this week.
He plays Island Records founder Chris Blackwell.
IHappy Valley star James Norton is quietly nursing heartbreak after splitting from fiancée Imogen Poots. Imogen was last seen with James in March 2023
Both have been working almost constantly, with James, 38, filming the Bob Marley biopic One Love which premiered in Los Angeles and London this week
Imogen, 34, spent time in New Mexico in 2022 making the drama Outer Range with James Brolin and is now on set in Northamptonshire making Hedda, a new adaptation of Ibsen’s Hedda Gabler.
In an interview last year to promote the Happy Valley finale, James said of his busy acting life: ‘It comes as a cost because you don’t see each other a lot, but we are willing to pay that for the benefit of having someone in your life close to you who gets it, who is forgiving, who will give up their Sunday to do an annoying self-tape (audition).’
They got together after meeting during a run of the play Belleville at the Donmar Warehouse in 2017 and got engaged in February 2022.
Imogen was last seen with James after the opening night of A Little Life, an adaptation of the Hanya Yanagihara novel, in March 2023.
However there has been no sign of her at any of the One Love premieres, in Jamaica, LA or London.
The pair also appear to have unfollowed each other on social media, and Imogen is not among those liking any of Norton’s recent Instagram posts about the film.
Spokesmen for Imogen and James did not return requests for comment this week.
James, who went to Ampleforth College before reading Theology at Cambridge, has recently completed Joy, a Netflix film about the first ‘test tube baby’ Louise Brown.
He is now making Playing Nice, a four part ITV drama about parents who discover that their children were accidentally switched at birth. James is an executive producer of that show via his own company, Rabbit Track Productions.
The pair also appear to have unfollowed each other on social media, and Imogen is not among those liking any of Norton’s recent Instagram posts about the film
In an interview last year to promote the Happy Valley finale he said of his busy acting life: ‘It comes as a cost because you don’t see each other a lot’ (James pictured)
Imogen and James met when they starred alongside each other in Belleville at the Donmar Warehouse during the summer of 2017
They got engaged in February 2022 (pictured together in January 2020)
Of the Happy Valley finale, which saw escaped prisoner Tommy Lee Royce in a final confrontation with Sgt Catherine Cawood, played by Sarah Lancashire, he said: ‘That scene with Sarah was one of the most special scenes I’ve ever shot. The whole set was quiet, like being in a church.
‘She was spectacular and I felt I was going good work. Usually I go off set and I’m like: ‘Oh no, I ****ed it up! It’s awful! I hate myself. Life’s rubbish!’
In the closing scenes of Happy Valley, Cawood rang her sister Clare and told her that she had had a final encounter with Tommy. ‘We’ve had another bit of a tussle. I won, obviously. I think I might have singed one of your crocheted blankets.’
The couple’s romance began in December 2017 a few months after James split from Irish singer and actress Jessie Buckley, 34 (pictured in April 2017)- he was with her for two years
The couple’s romance began in December 2017 a few months after James split from Irish singer and actress Jessie Buckley, 34 – who he was with for two years.
James and Jessie met after starring in the six-part dramatisation of Tolstoy’s War and Peace, which came out in 2016.
At the time, Jessie said the split was ‘acrimonious’, putting it down partly to the difficulty of dating a fellow actor.
James and Imogen initially had a long distance relationship (between New York and London), which she previously opened up on during an interview with The Evening Standard.
She said: ‘It’s all I’ve ever known. I’ve never known something to fall apart because of distance.’
‘Sharing a bathroom, however, is quite another matter,’ she added.
Imogen (left) starred in The Father alongside Olivia Colman and Anthony Hopkins in 2020
But in 2020, Imogen – who starred in The Father with Anthony Hopkins – moved into James’s London pad, before setting up home together.
Imogen is best known for playing Tammy in the post-apocalyptic horror film 28 Weeks Later, and portraying Jesse Crichton in A Long Way Down.
That year, Imogen spoke about their long distance romance as she split her time between London and New York.
‘It’s all I’ve ever known, I’ve never known something to fall apart because of distance,’ she told The Standard.
‘I find work to be my happy place, in a way. Because it’s all I’ve ever known: packing up a bag and moving on.
‘That restlessness that’s inherent in you is very addictive. And I suppose now I’m supposed to slow down and set up a farm or something.
‘But I’m not ready to do that. I want to keep exploring the world.’
James previously said his 2020 film, Nowhere Special, in which he played the dying father of a three-year-old boy, kicked off his ‘broody barometer’ and he was keen to become a dad.