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Jamie Dornan: 'The Tourist' was 'opposite' of normal roles

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The Man (Jamie Dornan) gets into an automobile accident in Australia. Photo courtesy of Two Brothers Pictures
The Man (Jamie Dornan) gets into an automobile accident in Australia. Photo courtesy of Two Brothers Pictures

LOS ANGELES, March 2 (UPI) -- Jamie Dornan said his role as an amnesiac in The Tourist, premiering Thursday on HBO Max, required him to forgo his normal method of preparation for roles.

"It was the opposite of how you usually work," Dornan told UPI in a recent Zoom interview.

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Dornan, 39, said The Tourist required him to block out any information about his character, even scripts he'd read in advance. Dornan plays The Man, who wakes up with no memory after an automobile accident in the Australian Outback.

"I've never had to focus more on just staying totally present and naive to everything going on around you," Dornan said.

He said he normally prepares extensive backstory for roles, such as his recent role in the Oscar-nominated Belfast, or his role as a killer in the Irish drama, The Fall.

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In one regard, The Tourist relieved Dornan of the pressure he often faces when preparing for roles. He said he normally struggles to forget the backstory he prepared so that he doesn't telegraph it on screen.

"As people, we don't walk around going, 'I wonder if somebody's going to ask me about the time I was 5 years old,'" Dornan said. "So it was trying to live in the present without having any idea of your past."

The Man makes an impact on the local law enforcement that helps him. Before she meets The Man, officer Helen Chambers (Danielle Macdonald) is struggling at home.

Helen's fiance, Ethan (Greg Larsen), criticizes her for sneaking fast food -- in the guise of trying to help her. Macdonald, 30, said helping The Man empowers Helen to stand up for herself at home, too.

"Going along this journey with The Man is a big wakeup call for her," Macdonald said. "She is very affected by both of these people [The Man and Ethan] and it's about finding her own voice among that."

Though Australian, Macdonald said she rarely gets to play Australian characters. She starred in the Sundance hit Patti Cake$ as a New Jersey rapper, and a Southern beauty pageant contestant in Dumplin', for example.

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Macdonald said The Tourist reflected the Australian sense of humor with which she grew up. She said certain slang, like "carrying on like a pork chop," are uniquely Australian.

"I know what it means because I grew up with it, but I don't know how to explain it to someone else," Macdonald said.

Dornan filmed The Tourist six months after finishing Belfast, in which he played an Irish father working in England to support his wife and son in Belfast.

Dornan said he valued the time between the film and the series.

"I think you needed that break in-between because they were so different," Dornan said. "I think if I'd gone from one straight into the other, it would've been really crazy."

As HBO Max viewers binge The Tourist, Dornan will join his Belfast cast and crew at various awards shows. They attended the SAG Awards on Sunday, at which the Belfast ensemble was nominated and co-star Ciatriona Balfe was singled out for a nomination.

Critics Choice and the Oscars are upcoming. The Critics Choice Awards nominated Dornan for Best Supporting Actor, and he is included in Best Acting Ensemble, among 11 nominations.

Belfast is nominated for seven Oscars, and Dornan will attend to support nominees Kenneth Branagh, Ciaran Hinds and Judi Dench, as well as producers and sound designers.

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Dornan said he is grateful the 2022 season is able to hold awards in person by following vaccination and COVID-19 testing guidelines. Dornan said he worried he would have to attend awards shows by Zoom.

"You really want that release," Dornan said. "You finally get to just go and have fun and celebrate together."

All six episodes of The Tourist premiere Thursday on HBO Max.

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