Jamie Dornan and Anthony Mackie would totally try the trippy killer drug in Synchronic
The duo star as New Orleans based paramedics Dennis (Dornan) and Steve (Mackie), who discover remains from those who have died under horrific and mysterious circumstances. In EW's exclusive clip from the film, the pair arrive on the scene of an amusement park where a body has spontaneously combusted. According to evidence, what ties these victims to one another is a new designer drug named Synchronic.
Dornan and Mackie sat down with EW to explain what it was like traveling down that rabbit hole, whether or not they'd be keen to try the drug themselves, and the experience of shooting in Mackie's hometown.
ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: Jamie, the characters of Dennis and Steve go on some wild adventures together. Set-up what fans can expect from them in this film?
JAMIE DORNAN: Dennis and Steve are these two young and attractive paramedics in New Orleans who come across this designer drug that's having a devastating effect on young folks. They end up being very directly related to the cause and effect of said drug and they go on this trippy journey to find out what they need to discover in order to clean up the city of this drug.
The drug transports users to various points in time. Anthony, tell us about Steve's adventures.
ANTHONY MACKIE: He goes back in time and visits an old conquistador and he also goes back to the ice age. There were so many interesting levels each time he took the pill and goes back into the past. I like that [directors] Justin [Benson] and Aaron [Moorhead] didn't allow that to influence his present. When he'd visit the past and return to the present, he'd realize just how valuable that moment was. Sitting in this interview with you and Jamie, with each of each being of different complexions and backgrounds, shows just how valuable the present is. That's something that I feel they hit perfectly with this movie.
Anthony, was shooting Synchronic extra special for you in your hometown?
MACKIE: It was a disaster to shoot there. [Laughs] New Orleans is a very family-oriented city for me, so if one of your cousins shows up you can't tell them to go home because you're shooting a movie. And you know he's going to pull-up and bring the barbecue grill, then he's going to tell everybody else where you're at. There were many times where I was on set shooting where I had a cousin, or a high school friend show up. It was hilarious!
Look, New Orleans is one of the best cities in the world when it comes to filming because you can literally get any kind of backdrop you'd want. Justin and Aaron did a great job of picking locations that show the duality of the city from the highs to the lows. I'm proud that we shot it there.
Jamie, were you invited to the barbecues? Did Anthony show you around?
MACKIE: No! When we'd get home and he'd be scared!
DORNAN: No, that's not true! There was quite a lot of casino action. Remember Anthony when you introduced me to craps? I remember playing the game and it was so easy, people kept handing me chips. I just kept winning and I didn't understand it.
I had been to New Orleans before for like two nights, but I had been desperate to shoot something there. It's one of those places people talk about with this fevered joy. I loved it so much, the people, the food, and the energy of it.
If a drug like Synchronic was available for real, would either of you try it?
DORNAN: 100% I would try it. If it was having all the harmful effects like in the movie maybe today I wouldn't but 20-year-old me still definitely would. If I knew it could safely take me back in time, I think we all would do it. I like the idea of hanging out on Laurel Canyon in the late 60s with Joni Mitchell, James Morrison, and David Crosby. Those guys seem like they were having a really good time. I'm into that American folk-rock sound, so that's where I'd like to go.
MACKIE: I would definitely try it, too; in a heartbeat. I would buy it all up! One of my greatest regrets is that I never met Muhammad Ali. I was in the same building with him twice but never in the same room. I'd love to go back in time and visit his heyday in the '50s and '60s and really take the opportunity to experience that level of greatness.
There are a lot of lessons within this movie. Did they affect either of you in any way?
DORNAN: Yes. There's a big speech the boys have at the end about living in the present and appreciating the things that you have around you that really resonated with me. Especially now in 2020, it's been a time for reflection about staying in the present but also looking back at the past wondering what we could've changed. There's also been a lot of time to think about the future and how we want that to play out even if a lot of it seems to be out of our control. Synchronic really brings up the conversation about time, your appreciation, understanding, and respect for it.
MACKIE: Yeah, for me too. I think one of the biggest lessons from this movie is happening now. If we don't learn from our past mistakes, we will commit them again in the future. With everything going on now, it really put things in perspective for me. Nobody is promised tomorrow, so enjoy it every day to its fullest.
DORNAN: It's been a crazy thing with The Fall because it was a hit on the BBC when it first came out seven years ago and now they've recently released them all here on Netflix. It made me realize how many more people watch Netflix than BBC TWO because it's taken on this whole other life! With Dr. Death, it was just one of those scheduling things annoyingly. When the pandemic hit we were three days off from starting to shoot and I was with my whole family in New York. We still have a lot of our belongings in our apartment there that we're still paying for. They were insistent on sticking to some dates that didn't work for me at all, so I had to slide out of that. I'm a fan of Joshua Jackson, I really like the work he does so that was great casting. I have nothing but love and respect for that team of people, so it's a shame I won't be able to take that journey with them but I wish them all the luck in the world.
MACKIE: There are a lot of legendary actors in that film and Chad had put himself in a position at that time to give that performance because Levee is a hell of a role. To have Viola Davis as Ma, you just couldn't ask for a better group of people to put that together. It'll be something special. This past two weeks I've lost two amazing theatre gurus in Anthony Chisholm and Thomas Byrd who I had the opportunity to do that play with for August Wilson. It's a story that should not be taken lightly and a character that will change your opinion on what theatre can be if you watch it.
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