Los Angeles — Unknown to many, former “Fifty Shades of Grey” star Jamie Dornan has a comedic side as well.
He first displayed it in “Wild Mountain Thyme” as Anthony Reilly and is back at it again as the besotted henchman Edgar Paget in the Josh Greenbaum-helmed comedy film “Barb and Star Go to Vista Del Mar.”
The movie tells the story of two midwestern, middle-aged best friends Barb and Star who opt to leave their small town of Small Rock, Nebraska for the first time to go on vacation to Vista Del Mar, Florida. Kristen Wiig portrays Star/Sharon Gordon Fisherman while Annie Mumolo is Barb Quicksilver.
We talked to the talented cast — Jamie, Kristen and Annie — and below are excerpts of our conversations with them:
How cool was it to have that musical moment for you? Actors rarely get those opportunities especially in a light vein to do that. Did you have to shed any inhibitions?
Yeah, it was. It’s like one of those things. The movie, as you know, has a lot of silliness. We were very aware of that when we were shooting it.
We’re in Mexico, we’re having a laugh, we’re working with this material that we think is very funny but you have no idea whether the world’s going to find it funny. Thankfully it looks like for a large majority, it’s being very well-received.
But there’s so many insane moments that you’re just, there’s no ceiling, you just have to go for it. The song was definitely one of those moments where actually you couldn’t have inhibitions. I was just, this will only work and as sort of mindlessly mad as I let it be. So it felt like this big release.
Again, maybe a side of me that I haven’t put out there before but probably closer to me and I have a silliness in me. Kristen (Wiig) Annie (Mumolo), Josh Greenbaum and the whole team just made me feel that silliness that I have. That I was in the right place. That it was like…let it all out here, this is a safe space. So that’s what I did and yeah, I had a ball doing that.
The song on the beach — so many people connect readily to it because it reminds them of their own adolescence. Do you have a particular memory of a song like that for you, that you were going bonkers maybe in your bedroom?
I’m trying to think the first song I sort of let loose in an angst-y way. I remember the first song I ever knew all the lyrics to were “Under the Bridge” by Red Hot Chili Peppers. I remember singing that song and trying to decipher what the meaning of it was, and they’re quite obscure, the lyrics are weird. It was on the radio the other day and it doesn’t really add up. It’s cryptic. I was very into the Red Hot Chili Peppers when I was a kid; it was probably something like that.
There’s a band, an English band called Skunk Anansie. I don’t know if they made it across the pond but they had this beautiful black lead singer named Skin, who incidentally we went to the same university but at a different time. She’s so beautiful and cool and has this really strong voice. They sang very often politically driven angry songs, but sometimes love songs that also were very angry.
I remember going through a bad breakup when I was 16, playing Skunk Anansie and really letting it out so that’s probably who it was.
Are you calling us from Ireland?
I’m in the UK; we’re actually going to Australia tomorrow. I’ve got the whole family going to Australia for five and a half months. So there’s a lot of admin that we need. Can’t be done until the last minute so I’ve just been sent all these documents --- all these online declaration things, our COVID-19 test results, all this stuff that I literally in the background I’m printing off about 70 pages of stuff that I need to travel with tomorrow. So it’s all a bit hectic but we’re excited.
Is it more nerve-wracking for you than for your wife or your children? Do they look forward to it? What does it mean to you? Are you used to taking your family?
I think taking on a trip like this, we’re there for a while, we’re there for six months and that’s daunting anyway at any time. It’s a big upheaval for the family and I’m always really aware of that, that my job sometimes causes us to sometimes make these big moves.
But I’m all about putting my family first and I would never do a job like that if it meant my family couldn’t come and we couldn’t make arrangements for that. But this time, it feels extra heightened because of the year that everyone’s had, the restrictions in place and what we have to go through to get to Australia. It’s not just getting a flight.
It’s a big trip anyway to Australia but when you’ve got to take into account all the tests we have to do, all the protocols you have to go through, the quarantine in the hotel with three kids under the age of eight when we get there for two weeks, all that (Laughs) stuff that’s just so mad and crazy. A lot of it’s just going to be like, let’s see how we get on.
But we’re definitely excited. I love the scripts. I can’t wait to do the job. I’m working with HBO Max and BBC. BBC obviously I have a long history with, with “The Fall.”
I feel like I’m in great hands and I’m very excited about the actual job, and excited just to work. I got lucky I’m asked to do the Kenneth Branagh film in the summer but outside of that I haven’t shot anything since “Wild Mountain Thyme”, which was at the end of 2019 so I’m excited to work. The girls, our kids, haven’t been at school for ages. Once we get through quarantine there, it’s kind of normal life for the most part. They go to school with masks. For them, that’s huge; so for us, that’s huge. So we’re definitely excited. It’s literally tomorrow morning. That’s when we go, early tomorrow morning. So yeah, it’s a little bit manic in the Dornan household right now.
Everybody identified with that moment when the person you like, likes you back and they do silly things. You shared in the past that your wife didn’t notice you initially. Did you do silly things for her to notice you?
I'm bad about like, you know, confidence with people you're attracted to. Millie and I were kind of put together. We were like someone introduced us and if it's that I'm fine. If someone goes hey, meet thing, you know, I'm like great, I'm in, we can talk.
I can never make the initial thing. Millie and I we were in L.A. It was 11 years ago now and we were introduced and I instantly knew that I would marry her like really genuinely. I don't know. It was just mad. I really just knew it. I was like oh my god, I'm going to marry this girl and literally just meeting her tonight.
I was convinced like a lot of people who think this way was that like she wouldn't even remember and here's me thinking I'm going to marry her and she's probably not even going to remember me the next day. That's kind of how it felt. We didn't kiss that night or anything. But the next day, we discovered we were on the same flight back.
When you realized that she liked you back, was there a moment?
Yeah. I turned up to pick her up where she was staying in because I was worried that she'd never remember me or this could be it. I felt I should make myself memorable and I wore, you know, it's L.A. I wore a thick Christmas sweater. It was February in L.A. I wore it like a sort of Christmas themed sweater and I remember seeing her reaction at the door when she opened the door and I stood there wearing this stupid sweater and she got it. I don't know. I could tell there that she got me, liked me, probably thought I was a bit weird (laughs) but she knows that I am, after this amount of time and I remember that when that went down a certain way with her, I thought right, this is good. It's been great since.
Last year has been really weird for everyone. How was your experience of lockdown? What have you done to look after your mental health?
Yeah, it is a struggle. It's a combination of going outside, doing things to take care of yourself and your family, doing things for others. There are so many people who are struggling right now.
It can feel isolating because you are just in your house the whole time and there is a whole world out there that needs help. I am trying to tell myself we are going to get through it. It will be over soon.
It’s so much longer than we all expected. I think that’s the other thing. We weren’t really prepared to be in our homes for this long. It’s a hard question because it’s not easy, like you do have to find those little bits of joy in there otherwise you will just, it just can be really hard mentally. But go for walks. I spent time with my kids and my family and tried to sleep. (laughs) Sleep is good.
How are you feeling about motherhood? How much are you enjoying being a mother and having kids at this stage in your life?
It’s the best. I mean again, it’s like what everyone says, it’s the best thing in the world. I have felt lucky that I have gotten to spend extra time with them because of what’s going on, but at the same time, it’s hard because they can’t be with other kids.
That’s stressful because they are so young and you want them to get socialized. But I am loving it. It’s everything people say it is. It’s super hard. You are tired all the time, that’s also the best thing.
Are you a great napper now?
I am not a napper. I can’t nap. I’m so bad. If I lay down for a nap and fall asleep, I am just like a zombie for the rest of the day. So I just try to make it through. But I wish I could be one of those people who could just lay down for half-an-hour but I am not a good napper.
I always enjoy movies with female friendships. What is the significance of girlfriends in your life?
It plays a huge part in how I get through anything. I feel like, as you get older, your group of friends does start to become curated a little bit and for me, most of my really, really good friends are friends whom I’ve had for 10 years, 20 years, 30 plus.
It’s like when you go through things, you need that ear and sometimes you need extra support, and each friend gives a different, sort of plays a different role. It’s important for me to have that sounding board and to feel grounded and to have my friends.
There is a special language sometimes with friends, like especially with Annie (Mumolo) and I, like it’s just sometimes you don’t even have to say anything and you know what the other person is thinking.
We all have our relationships, our family and our kids, but there’s just something about having those close girlfriend relationships that have meant the world to me.
What is the most memorable vacation you have ever had and what makes a good vacation for you?
Who you go with is a really important thing. I’ve had some really good family vacations growing up. But I will say my husband and I went to Patagonia in Chile and that was like just one of the most special places I’ve ever been. I like being active on vacations and we did a lot of hiking and ate some really delicious food and tried to not have our phones with us, so that was really nice. We tried. Yeah, so I miss vacations right now.
How is it working with Annie Mumolo?
At the core of it is, we have the same sense of humor. We just have the same vision with things like whenever we're given like photos to approve or like a trailer or something like nine times out of 10, we will have the exact same notes separately and we just have the same creative mind that way.
When we're writing, because we have the same sense of humor, there's so much trust and we just improvise because we've had that history together like as we're writing we sort of like play all the characters and if there's something that if we get to like a stopping point and it's like oh, should it be this or this, we don't really spend that much time debating it.
It's just like well, let's try this or let's try that or okay, because I trust her. We have this mutual language and for the most part, it's just really easy and we're very close outside of work. But writing is just almost like an extension of my brain.
And working with Jamie Dornan?
Everyone fell in love with Jamie. He's so funny in a dry way because he is also really silly and because you don't expect that from him. It's just like it's such a delight. He's so full of joy, so positive.
Before we worked with him, so many people we knew or had worked with him just kept saying how funny he was. He's really funny. I watched interviews with him and I was like gosh, he's really funny. Annie and I have him as a prototype the whole time. I never thought he would do the movie but we sent him a script. We were like let's see and he even read the script. We had him do a lot of really crazy things and he was like let's do it. He said, I'm game. And that is what you want in someone who has to play a somewhat straight/silly role like he was just up for anything.
Talk a little bit about working with Kristen Wiig.
We call each other our work wives. I do feel like it’s a rare lucky thing to find someone whom you have this rapport and chemistry with.
Kristen and I have a long relationship together as friends and working and I think for things to, even like I suppose in a marriage, you need to have trust for the person and I really trust Kristen. I trust her so much, that when you have that, you are able to feel free to try things and play and have fun and laugh and knowing that the other person has your back.
That’s a huge component of it, is trust. Also Kristen is my fountain of laughter. When we’re together, she just makes me laugh so much. So we just laugh a lot. There’s so much joy for me in working with Kristen and in our friendship as well.
What does female relationships mean to you?
I think female friendships are so important for women. My female friendships have gotten me through the most difficult phases of my life, but difficult challenges and obstacles that you help each other through.
I really value those friendships and Kristen is definitely one of them for me. And there’s just such value in having these friends that you’ve had for such a long time that have known you for so long and you have known them for so long and you sort of have a shorthand in communication. You can finish each other’s sentences and know what each other will think about, would think or say in situations. To be able to laugh with through the hard times I think is so important.
Is Jamie Dornan as sweet as he is in the film?
I can’t say enough about Jamie Dornan. He’s such a wonderful person as a person. He’s so wonderful. And he is very kind and he’s incredibly funny. And in my group of female friends, we always find funny, a sexy quality. But it’s so exciting to see someone like him who’s known for doing more dramatic work and then meeting him and seeing what a funny person he is. Then getting to play with that and just explode onto the screen. He is such a kind hearted wonderful person and just really, he’s a dream. I can’t say enough about him. — LA, GMA News