Jamie Dornan Discusses His Story Arc And Dealing With Grief In The Tourist - Exclusive Interview

Jamie Dornan is currently experiencing a career renaissance of sorts. The Northern Irish actor has recently starred in the films "Barb and Star Go to Vista Del Mar," as well as the critically acclaimed "Belfast," where he stars opposite Caitríona Balfe. The latter film, which was written and directed by Kenneth Branagh, has drummed up Oscars buzz over the last few weeks after it was nominated for several awards, according to Focus Features. In addition to these exciting projects, Dornan is tackling one of his best roles to date in HBO Max's upcoming series, "The Tourist."

In "The Tourist," Dornan stars as a mysterious character known only as "The Man." Suffering from amnesia, The Man is thrust into the uncertainty of the Australian landscape as he scrambles to uncover the truth of his past before it's too late. Dornan's performance in the series is mesmerizing — it's equal parts thrilling and emotional, and the filming experience was unlike any other for the 39-year-old actor. Speaking exclusively to The List about his interesting story arc on "The Tourist," Dornan revealed that getting into the mind of someone with amnesia was a strange process.

During the conversation, Jamie Dornan poignantly shared what it was like to film the series in the immediate aftermath of his father's death. He spoke openly and honestly about his grief, and how filming "The Tourist" felt like both a blessing and a curse in the wake of his terrible loss.

Jamie Dornan discussed how he got into character

I think one of the things that's most compelling about "The Tourist" is the fact that your character, The Man, is obviously figuring out who he is along with the viewers. Going into the project, you had read the script, so you knew what was going to happen. How do you disconnect from that existing knowledge to get into the head space needed to play your character?

Crazy. It's the total opposite of how you work, usually. It was a headf***, to be quite honest with you. You're doing all that work, usually, to form all of that information and to come up with that backstory and to understand how they react and why they react the way they do to certain scenarios. Suddenly, even though you know what's coming, you're like, "Don't let that in. Don't let that in." You have to make sure it is as sincere as possible that you're hearing this information for the first time. Really weird way to work.

I loved it. It had a purity to it that I managed to find with it, that I'd never really experienced before. [It was] definitely a different way of working because it felt sincere. I've played a character with amnesia before, where you're questioning whether he is telling the truth or not, or he's manipulating the situation. This was very pure. I know that he [The Man] doesn't know who he is. I know that he is f***ing terrified as a result of that. Getting to play that was amazing for me.

Dornan talked about the most rewarding aspect of shooting The Tourist

It definitely feels genuine when you're watching it as well, that confusion and nightmare quality of it. It seems like it was very challenging. What was the most rewarding aspect of filming this project for you?

Finishing it. [Laughs]. Honestly, I had the best time, but it was so hard. I had a personal loss at the very beginning of it. I lost my dad ten days before we started shooting, so I was going through this crazy state of grief, and then having to jump into the most challenging role of my life, and the longest job of my life, in the furthest away place from home that I've ever shot. I had my family out there with me, but there's a lot of disconnection to what was going on. It was a huge uphill challenge.

I think the biggest thing for me was managing to get over the line and finally being able to breathe and take in everything that happened to me in the last five months up to that point. And for me, the biggest part, having it been such a challenging experience, for it to have been received so well where its been shown so far, is massive. Because if everyone thought it was s*** after all this, it would be tough. [Both laugh]. I'm not saying there won't be people who don't like it, but the reception in the U.K. and Ireland, Australia, everywhere it's been shown so far, has been so great that it makes it all feel worthwhile.

He spoke candidly about a personal loss he experienced prior to filming

I wanted to say, I'm so sorry to hear about your dad. That's just awful. I hope that the process was cathartic for you, to be able to work through these complicated emotions on screen as you were sort of mirroring that in your personal life.

Thank you, I appreciate it. I think it's a blessing and a curse to get busy straight after something like that. In a way, it gets your mind off it. In a way, you're kicking the can down the road and not dealing with it and lengthening the denial, I will say. It's a very strange process, it's something I'm still battling with every day, if I'm really truthful. This interview's going somewhere different. [Laughs].

I've been through big grief before. It's a very strange process, and it's been a different process ever for me because of having to shoot "The Tourist" in the immediacy after it. Thank you for expressing your concern. I appreciate it.

The Tourist is now streaming on HBO Max.