Jamie Dornan on His Show-Stopping ‘Barb and Star’ Musical Number, Oscar Buzz and Tearing Up Shirts

Jamie Dornan is happy to get silly, even showing up for an interview sporting a bikini t-shirt, swag from his new film. The film in question is “Barb and Star Go to Vista Del Mar,” Kristen Wiig and Annie Mumolo’s follow-up to their 2011’s Oscar-nominated screenplay for “Bridesmaids.” A bright, joyous ode to female friendships, the proudly silly film combines elements of a spy thriller, musical and rom-com wrapped in a candy-colored fever dream that will leave audiences smiling — and humming a few tunes.

Perhaps the biggest surprise is Dornan — an actor known for his work in dramas in “Fifty Shades of Gray” or TV’s “The Fall” — who plays Edgar, a man who journeys to Vista Del Mar and becomes entwined with the pair. He’s there at the behest of his boss/girlfriend Sharon Gordon Fisherman, an evil mastermind who wants to kill the inhabitants of her former town. The lovesick Edgar, who doesn’t get that Fisherman is just not that into him, even sings a power ballad while dancing, twirling and leaping across the beach. It’s a moment that is earning raves and buzz for the actor, who holds nothing back in a comedy that also features a mermaid, killer mosquitoes and a talking crab.

I know you’re not on Twitter but has anyone made you aware that there’s a lot of people talking about wanting you to get a best supporting actor nomination?

For this?

Of course!

Yeah, are all of their last names Dornan?

I know comedies don’t always get the appreciation they deserve, but I would love to see it happen. I wish the song could have been nominated so you could perform it live on the Oscars.

I couldn’t sing it live. It’s too hard! And I feel like the one time I sort of got it vaguely in tune in the studio was like the one time only that was ever gonna happen. I’m just terrified of the idea of doing it live!

I feel like I’ve been telling you for years that you need to do a big, fun comedy. And you’ve wanted to, haven’t you?

You have, you’ve been vocal about that. And I’ve wanted to, but I just wouldn’t have been considered for comedies for lots of different reasons; mostly because I’ve played characters that aren’t remotely funny. All my slate is very dramatic and very dark. And I love doing that, but there’s this other side of me that has always wanted to release a version of myself and let something go out of myself that is probably closer to me. And I’m a grown up, I’ve got responsibilities, but often I’m not serious at all. So this just suited me very well. If you’re gonna do your first comedy, like, just make sure you do it with you know, Kristen Wiig and Annie Mumolo. That’s just the dream team to find myself with, I feel like a very lucky, lucky boy and I’d love to do more of it.

So who first thought of you and brought the script to you?

Kristen never told me this but we were doing press the other day and she was asked about that and she said, “When we were sort of pitching around ideas, we said Edgar is like a Jamie Dornan type. But like, that wouldn’t be feasible.” They were just using my name. But it turns out we have a few people in common and I guess people I’d worked with had told her I was funny, so they got in her ear. So someone suggested they send it to me and she didn’t think I would like it. But just off the title, I was sold. I was like, “When do they start? I’ll do it for free.” I got on FaceTime with the director, Josh Greenbaum, and we were on there for two hours just making each other laugh so much. And he said, “Let’s do this.”

You referenced earlier that you played a lot of dark characters. Do you think Edgar is closest to who you really are minus, you know, the killing?

It’s funny, when we were doing my big song and dance number, I had my family with me. I was doing that song, I was on a jetski and it was really windy and I was just being so stupid but having the time of my life. I got off and went up my wife and she said, “Do they know that you’re just like, being yourself?”

Speaking of your show-stopping number, called “Edgar’s Prayer,” people are obsessed with this song. How long did you take to shoot it? It looked hard!

I think we shot it over two days. Originally, it was in the schedule as day two and three. I was like, “Guys, I sort of need to find my feet a wee bit like, I’m not sure I’m gonna be totally ready to put the energy I want to put into that.” So we kicked it down the road a bit, just into the following week. We’re in Cancun in July, it’s super, super hot, and when I think of it, I just think of being really uncomfortable, really sweaty, and having to change my shirt after every single take. There was like a sort of a conveyor belt production line; I’d take off my shirt and someone would be drying it with a hair dryer or the wind while someone put a new shirt on me. And the whole time I was going, “God, I hope this is funny.”

I’ve watched that scene multiple times. And after the first 10 times, when I finished laughing and wiping the tears from my eyes, I kept thinking it was probably really difficult. Like when you’re flicking your toes in the sand, you must have a really strong core.

I was okay with that, though the sand was really hot. I think the hardest thing was climbing that tree. Obviously I’m on a harness, but it’s it’s trying to try to get the harness to react in a way where it’s meant to look like I’m sort of effortlessly doing it. Like, if that’s a tree, I’m only just putting my fingertips on. But I was swinging and stuff so I had to sort of grab the tree, which didn’t look great. It was this thing of trying to look like I’m really light and I’m just able to just clamber up this tree for the hills. But actually, I was like, swinging around knocking into the tree. It was kind of chaotic. And also just trying to keep a straight face. When you’re climbing up a tree at nearly 40 years old, while singing: “I’m going up a palm tree, like a cat up a palm tree, who’s decided to go up a palm tree.” It’s just, you know, I’m like, “How did I get myself here?”

How many shirts do you think you ripped?

We did that just two, maybe three times. And the first time it didn’t rip it all. I’m sure that footage will find its way onto some sort of blooper reel. So we had to like, cut it so I could rip it.  Listen, even Hulk Hogan apparently cuts it at the top. So if Hulk Hogan needs help with ripping a shirt off, I definitely need help. I don’t even think I get ever got it off of the bottom.

Did you ever ruin takes just by laughing? Even outside the dance scene?

All the time. The hardest scene is when I’ve been told that they’re spies and I tie them up with their own rope. I just love all that stupid stuff, like that what they pack in their thing ends up being used against them, like a big thing of rope. Like, it’s so stupid. I tied them up and I’m telling my life story and I’m standing at the window and I turn around and they’re in various stages of release while I’m trying to keep a straight face. I was dying for like 30 seconds laughing.

So the question everyone’s asking now that people are seeing it and loving it and watching it over and over again: Any talk of a sequel?

I’m the wrong person to ask, you know, I mean, that’s a Mumolo/Wiig question. I was hopeful that they weren’t gonna just turn and kill Edgar at some point towards the end. Because I was like, if this hits and people like it, there’s an appetite… I think they’ve definitely knocked around a few titles, let’s put it that way. We all had a bit of fun one day, coming up with destinations for for them to go on after. So listen, if they want to go again, and they want me to be involved, it would be the easiest yes of my life.

Again, congratulations on the movie. And if we can’t get you an Oscar nomination, let’s work on the Grammy.

You know what I’d like? I want, like, remixes. I want a trance remix. Or a massive techno version. I want to be like a nightclub in Ibiza, and then be like, “Jesus is that me?”

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