TV - The Tourist

With all six episodes of The Tourist available to watch on iPlayer, and the drama series currently showing on BBC One, read an interview with The Man, Jamie Dornan...

Press Release

In the glowing red heart of the Australian outback, we’re outside a quiet and lonely-looking gas station. The Man refuels his car. As he pulls away, he realizes he’s being pursued. He can’t see who it is. All he can see is the vast tank truck bearing down at him. Trying to drive him off the road. The epic cat and mouse chase ends with the man tumbling off a ridge in his car. When he wakes from his accident, he’s in hospital. Somehow, he’s alive. Hurt, but alive.

Except he has no idea who he is.

Not long after is when we meet local beat cop Helen, an earnest and eager to please woman locked in a constant battle with her weight and her own self-confidence. She’s sent to check in on The Man and though there are no clues about his identity she promises to help figure out who he is. It’s not her job, but she can’t help herself but be intrigued by this lost soul. Much to the frustration of quietly controlling fiancée. A clue from the crash leads The Man to a run-down diner, where he meets Luci, a waitress working there.

But soon catastrophe hits again, and only blind dumb luck sees the two of them emerge unscathed. Meanwhile, we meet Lachlan Rogers, a matter-of-fact detective inspector who’s been called out to investigate, and inevitably his questions come to focus on The Man. But it’s not just Lachlan who is looking for The Man. What does the mysterious American, Billy, want with The Man?

In a journey that twists and turns from the dusty outback of Australia to the frantic noise and lights of Singapore, The Tourist is a character-driven mystery, a story of self-discovery with a unique tone, by turns shocking, surprising, funny and brutal.

As The Man starts to uncover the mystery of who he was, he’s also forced to ask who he is now. Is the loss of his memory a chance to forge a new identity or is he doomed to repeat the mistakes of the past?

Through the six hours, the characters of Luci and Helen and Lachlan also start to take centre stage, each with their own journey of discovery to make. Big existential questions sit alongside surprising, fast-paced storytelling. There will be high-octane twists and turns, and big action set pieces, but despite the bold themes and adrenalised narrative, this is ultimately the kind of very real and very human story that everyone can relate to, played out across the almost mythic landscape of the outback, a modern-day Wild West.

The six episode drama has been written by BAFTA®-nominated and Emmy®-winning producers and screenwriters Harry and Jack Williams (Baptiste, The Missing, Liar), who alongside Christopher Aird (Baptiste, Liar, Clique) serve as executive producers for Two Brothers Pictures and Tommy Bulfin (Normal People, Line of Duty, Peaky Blinders) for the BBC. Lisa Scott (A Sunburnt Christmas, The Hunting) produced and Chris Sweeney (Liar, Back to Life) executive produced and directed.

Interview with Jamie Dornan:

Can you describe The Man in five words?

Desperate, confused, alone, angry, and complicated.

Why did you want to be involved in this project?

I’m in a privileged position in my life career where I have an element of choice in what I do. As a result of that, I get to read a lot of stuff, and these scripts stood out for me. They were different to anything I’d read before, they were very complex, imaginative, bold and hugely ambitious.

I’m always looking for a challenge in my work, and it has been a mighty challenge! But I think what really swung it for me was I watched Back to Life, which was a series that Harry and Jack Williams had produced, and Chris Sweeney had directed back in the UK. I just loved it and tonally that show goes from extreme sadness and some very peculiar things happening that are quite jarring, to something very funny on the turn of a dime.

That tone is hard to navigate and sometimes can be hard to watch. The way Chris handled that was so beautiful, and there’s a lot of that in The Tourist –playing around with the audience. So, I had a lot of faith that Chris was the right guy to be handling that sort of content.

Can you tell us some of the main themes of the series?

At the heart, this is a cat and mouse thriller, and one man’s darkly comic journey of self-discovery. But there’s definitely love going on here, there’s fear, hate, revenge, remorse, it’s all in there! It is a real stew of themes and emotions and that’s why it’s been a testing, all encompassing, all hands on deck shoot. It’s been incredible, every department, what they’ve had to step up and do on this job.

What is it about this script that makes it so compelling?

It’s just mad! There are so many threads in this journey. With the premise of the script being this guy who’s lost his memory and is trying to piece everything together, everything’s being revealed to him at the same time that it’s being revealed to the audience. That keeps you intrigued, and I was drawn to that sense of someone who’s grappling with what the truth is and trying to find out answers. I think we’re all trying to do that as we stumble through life anyway, but this is on a much more heightened scale. The humour of it too, that’s something that was a big draw for me – finding something that marries dark humour and quite extreme drama too. It’s not often you get scripts that have all of that in one.

Where do we find The Man at the start of the series? What journey does he go on?

We find The Man driving through the dusty outback of South Australia and it’s very hard to gauge much about this guy. We find out that he’s been followed by a big, nasty, aggressive looking truck, and The Man gets hit off the road, having this terrible accident. He wakes up in a hospital, doesn’t remember anything, doesn’t know who he is, and then this mad, epic journey starts with him trying to piece together what’s happened.

Can you talk about The Man’s evolving relationship with Luci?

When The Man meets Luci, played by Shalom Brune-Franklin, they have a bit of an instant connection, but there are all kinds of things that happen and are revealed to us which are very unconventional. But through Luci we find out much more about The Man and where he’s come from, what his journey is and what’s taken him to that point.

How do Helen and The Man meet?

Helen is a traffic cop who has recently been given a promotion and finds herself now slightly out of her depth dealing with cases that are beyond what she’s used to – traffic ticketing! And its testament to Danielle Macdonald, who’s incredible, you just like her instantly, you’re just on side with her. The Man’s lost his memory and doesn’t know what kind of a person he is, but he likes her. There’s instantly an intrigue there as to who this girl is and why she never shuts up. She just talks all the time and is very funny with it. They go on an incredible journey together and a very unexpected one I think, and it will keep the audience guessing the whole time.

What has it been like working alongside such a great cast?

I’ve just got so lucky with this, I think everyone will say that the main cast have just clicked. I’d seen a bit of Danielle’s work before and always thought she was really cool. She’s just such an easy person to be around, she’s very professional, always ready, always wants to run lines. Some nights before big scenes I’ll call Danielle, and I like that. She’s just fun and gets it. She’s one of the easiest people I’ve ever worked with, she’s brilliant.

Shalom is cheekier, she gives it back a bit! I have a side of me that can be really silly and fun. Shalom definitely steps up to the plate with that and bats it right back at you in the best possible way. But it’s just makes coming to work fun – I mean I’m never fearful of it, and I know it’s going to be easy with Shalom. Our characters go through some heavy stuff together, so do Danielle and I.

Darri’s great, he’s just a force. I don’t have as much to do with Darri as some of the other characters, but I’m in awe of his presence and his physicality, his size. He grabs your attention when he walks into a room, and that voice, he just has a lot of natural charisma.

Damon is brilliant. He brings this very different energy to what I imagined with that character initially. Damon is like a puppy, he’s just got this energy that is very enthusiastic and it’s that energy of someone who doesn’t have kids and who hasn’t been beaten down and pummelled into the earth by early mornings and kids needing you and wanting you all the time! He’s got this very fresh, up for anything attitude that I used to have before I had three kids.

How does The Man compare to other characters you have played before?

I’ve played characters who have lost their memory before and are trying to piece things together, but not on this sort of scale and for this long. He’s constantly in a battle with himself and with all the information he’s getting, which is pretty much always bad news. That turmoil of having to deal with it, like so much of playing The Man, has been a challenge – he’s always on edge and confused and so angry all the time. There’s never an easy moment, even when he thinks something good is happening, that changes and he’s in a constant state of flux and mayhem. So as a result, there’s no easy days at the office for me! But that’s been both a challenge and a joy to play and discover this character.

Are there any specific characteristics or quirks you have used to bring this character to life?

What’s nice for me in this is that I’m doing my own accent, which is something I don’t always get to do, and that brings with it a certain sort of comfort. When I’m doing my own accent, I tend to allow more of myself into the acting, which I don’t think is a bad thing.

How has it been filming in South Australia? Does this environment contribute to your performance and in what way?

I think if you’re shooting anywhere, any location is difficult, anywhere in the world, usually for some kind of elemental reason, often weather. We didn’t get it too bad when we started out in the outback in the first 5 weeks of the shoot we shot there. It was March/April/end of May, it was not crazy hot, we had that on our side. Maybe 35 degrees was as hot as it got in the early days, it wasn’t that bad.

The dark humour is subtle but a key part of the show – how do you balance those lighter moments amongst such intense scenes?

The way Harry and Jack write is so heightened and extreme but it’s also very human, and as humans we do constantly walk that line between stuff being very serious and stuff making us laugh. That is life, we’ve all gone through awful stuff and amazed ourselves at how much we laugh and find humour in the darkest of moments. So, I think they’ve done that very cleverly – it catches you off guard in this, because sometimes you don’t want to use humour in a way that detracts or takes away from the drama of the situation, but it has to be used in a very smart way to enhance it and keep the audience on board.

Have you enjoyed the action sequences?

It has been physical! That is something I like to think that I have in my wheelhouse still in my 40th year on this earth, and I’d like to think I can keep doing that for as long as they’ll let me. I have to say, I still back myself as being able to achieve a lot of stuff physically and I want to do that while I still have that capability. But we’ve had an incredible stunt team on this and always felt really safe, but I’ve just probably wanted to do a little bit more than they let me...!

What do you hope audiences will take away from this series?

We’re trying to keep people intrigued and entertained and I want this audience to go on this journey with The Man and be as bamboozled and cut up and affected by it as he is, and as confused by it. There’s so much TV now, so, you have to do something that keeps its head above that other stuff and stands out for the right reasons – and this journey is like nothing else. Hopefully the audience are willing to come on this mad journey with us!

The Tourist is a Two Brothers Pictures (an All3Media company) production for the BBC, in association with Highview Productions, All3Media International, the South Australian Film Corporation, HBO Max, Stan and ZDF. It is available to watch in its entirety on BBC iPlayer and episode three is on BBC One next Sunday.

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