The Surprising Way Damson Idris Prepared For Outside The Wire - Exclusive

Netflix's latest chart-topping original movie Outside the Wire tells the sci-fi story of a disgraced drone pilot and an android teaming up to stop a doomsday device. Looper spoke with Damson Idris, who stars as Lt. Harp, the drone pilot thrown on the front lines for the first time in his career alongside Anthony Mackie's Capt. Leo. We asked Idris how he got ready for his role in this film that proved to be prescient in ways no one could have imagined.

"The biggest preparation for me was to under-prepare, because Harp is well in over his head," the actor explains. His aim was to appear proficient but unready, specifically saying that he didn't want to be "Keanu Reeves level," despite getting gun training. "I remember watching that Keanu Reeves video where he's going through and he's hitting every single target. I was like, 'Oh, I can't be that good.' I don't want to look cool running, I want to have a stitch when I'm running. This is a guy who sits in a chair all day, eating gummy bears. So for me the preparation was to under-prepare and that created the huge contrast between Harp's inexperience and Leo's experience."

Another part of his research was watching war movies, with Idris pointing to drone-centric films Good Kill and Eye in the Sky in particular. The actor was struck by "how so many soldiers have PTSD and trauma. And what that means for those soldiers going forward, when they're looking at a location from far, far away, with little kids playing and families. And just because a target is in that location, they need to press a button because someone told them to. With Harp being thrust on the front lines of Marines, having that reaction, the first time he killed someone up close or having a reaction to the aftermath of a drone strike, a button he's pressed so many times."

Distributing vaccines in a war torn area? Too unrealistic

A major sequence in Outside the Wire sees Harp and Leo travelling a war-torn landscape to deliver vaccines — and as a reminder, this was shot in 2019. When asked what it was like watching the finished product and seeing such a prescient scene, Idris can only laugh. "Movies do this magical thing, man! You make them, and then all of a sudden the exact same thing happens in life!"

He's quick to add, "With Outside the Wire, I think there's tons of stuff that correlates to modern day life. And despite the fact that [the movie is set] in 2036, I believe what it speaks to is the history of warfare and our relationship with casualties of war, our relationship with AI and technology and how that's rampant today, and are we ready for Gumps [the movie's robotic soldiers] in our reality? Are we ready for robots? Do we really need to assess and fix some of the problems we have today? This movie speaks to many times, the future and the past, and that's why it's so special."

Outside the Wire is streaming on Netflix now. Stay tuned to Looper for more exclusive coverage.