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Jamie Dornan should have gone to a fake resort in Florida a long time ago.
The former “Fifty Shades of Grey” star shows off impressively zany comedic chops in “Barb & Star Go to Vista Del Mar” (available now on video-on-demand platforms), Kristen Wiig and Annie Mumolo’s absurd new comedy about two middle-aged Midwesterners who break out of their comfort zone and head south for a wild vacation full of trippy cocktails and wise-talking crabs.
Once firmly ensconced in the shell-bedecked, Mai Tai-soaked resort life, the chatty duo bed a handsome stranger (Dornan) who is actually a spy involved in a malicious plan to attack a local festival “where the clams are hot and the crowd is on the older side." If you’ve read this far, you can probably tell “Barb & Star” is a love-it-or-hate-it kind of film. But lo and behold, it’s become kind of a thing.
Dornan, 38, gives it his all as a tormented soul who dips into self-help books to reconcile his torment over his evil mistress (also Wiig) driving the plot. The actor and dad of three explains embracing the Tommy Bahama life while calling from the U.K.
Question: How are you feeling about all the positive feedback for "Barb & Star"? A movie like this probably feels like a huge gamble.
Jamie Dornan: Any comedy is a risk, isn’t it? This is not some linear, normal, expected form of comedy. It’s pretty out there. If you wanted to dislike it, it would be easy to in a way because you could dismiss it as being too silly. But luckily, the world seemed to be up for a bit of silliness right now.
Q: Is there a specific moment where you were on set in Cancun going, is this going to work?
Dornan: Maybe every single moment?
Q: I’d forgotten you sang in "Fifty Shades Freed." So when you went all out singing the pining ballad "Edgar's Prayer," I was totally surprised.
Dornan: Yeah, I kind of forgot that I’d sang in "Fifty Shades Freed"! But that in itself was a terrifying experience because we shot that entire thing in Whistler at Sarah McLachlan's house and that was her (expletive) piano and she’d just played for the entire crew, she’d sang a couple of her monster, giant songs that everybody knows and everyone was crying. And they were like, 'All right Jamie, next up!' And I was like ... I'm not following that!
This was very different, obviously, But it was hard to sing! It’s like a big '80s bar ballad, essentially. I was exhausted after recording that song.
Q: It also required you to sell lyrics like “Seagulls in the sand, can you hear my prayer?”
Dornan: I can’t even tell you, weirdly, how comfortably those words sat within me.
Q: It’s all the funnier that over Christmas you posted your children shouting “Daddy, shush!” as you tried to sing carols.
Dornan: Oh, they hated it. My wife wasn’t in the room at that point. Had my wife been in the room, she would have been joining the chorus of boos.
Q: So have your kids seen any of “Barb & Star”?
Dornan: They want to watch my song all the time and the song when (Wiig and Mumolo) arrive at the hotel. But the older two are 5 and 7, they watched almost the whole movie the other day and I was sort of tactically coming in – I think there’s only two times anybody swears and it’s me both times – and I came in at that moment and I was talking over (it). And some stuff is just over their head.
Q: I understand when you were climbing the palm tree (singing lyrics like "I’m going up a palm tree / like a cat up a palm tree / who’s decided to go up a palm tree") you were actually on wires.
Dornan: That was tough, man. I’m trying to make it look like it's a really easy thing, that I’m climbing this palm tree like a cat. Josh (Greenbaum), our director, was like, "Can you do it so it’s like you’re barely making contact with the trunk?" It was also 1,000 degrees in Cancun in July in a harness trying to sing that absurd song at the same time. It’s one of those days you’re like, what is happening with my life?
Q: Which brings us to Edgar's dramatic shirt-ripping scene. I hear you tore through many a polo.
Dornan: I definitely ripped a couple. They wouldn’t rip that easy and I guess I’m not as strong as I’d like to think I am. But even in the movie you can see that I rip it to the point that I’m not ripping it – and I end up just slipping it over my head to disguise the fact that I’m weak.
Q: What is it like to finally show off a sillier side on camera? Projects like "Fifty Shades" or TV series "The Fall" have displayed broodier chops.
Dornan: People who know me, my friends, know I’m really silly most of the time. It’s not a shock to a lot of my mates. It’s probably a shock to plenty of people in the world.
Q: Would your kids describe you as pretty silly?
Dornan: I’ll tell you something really nice. Our 5-year-old, who turned 5 just yesterday, she said the other day, ‘When I grow up, I want to be silly like Daddy.’ It made me really proud.
Q: Fans are already imagining Barb, Star and Edgar on their next trip. Where in the world would you want to send them on a sequel? Have Wiig and Mumolo (who jointly wrote the comedy) spoken to you about it?
Dornan: That would be amazing to happen but it’s been a decade of requests for a "Bridesmaids" sequel that hasn’t happened yet. They’re busy girls. But we’ve definitely all talked about it, there have been destinations thrown around, ranging from the absurd to the unimaginable.
It’s a strange thing thinking about that because usually if you’ve done anything where there’s potential for a sequel, you’re very aware of box office and all that stuff – but (with a streaming release) we have none of that to go on. So it will be strange making those decisions.
This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: 'Barb & Star Go to Vista Del Mar': Jamie Dornan ripped so many shirts