moposh (moposh) wrote in _prisonbreak,

Dom and Went in January Issue of Men's Edge Magazine


By A.D. Amorosi • Photos by John Russo
DOMINIC PURCELL UNDERSTANDS THE POWER OF LOVE. Not only is the 35-year-old Australian actor adored by four kids and his wife, Rebecca. Not only is the shaved-headed wonder worshipped by the Fox Television network so much that they’ve given him a development deal that gives Purcell a stake in his future. In the smash Monday night series, Prison Break – one whose most bizarre plot twists are swallowed whole by a devoted audience – Purcell’s strong, silent character, Lincoln Burrows, is loved by his brother, Michael (Wentworth Miller).
A lot.

So much that Michael has gone into prison to help the wrongly accused Lincoln escape.

Fans love it. They love the labyrinth of oddball interaction and character complications that fly (sometimes literally) in the face of plot constriction: the kindly warden (Stacy Keach), the non- Italian mob boss (Peter Stormare), the trustworthy cellmate (Amaury Nolasco). Everyone wants in on Michael’s plan to free his Death Row-bound brother. And they’ll get out. They’ll have at least 44 episodes to do so, as planned precisely by Prison Break creator Paul Scheuring.

But how? And through what level of absurdity – seeing through walls? Flying? It doesn’t matter. Fans love Purcell.

They loved him when he was the mysterious John Doe from the series of the same name; one that found the newly imported Purcell in every scene of the 22-episode Fox series, playing a cross between MacGyver and Einstein, but with a bad memory as to who he was. They’ve loved him in his parts in bigger- screen fare like Blade: Trinity (opposite Wesley Snipes), Equilibrium (opposite Christian Bale) and Mission: Impossible II (opposite Tom Cruise). And Purcell – an Australian surfer dude with a decidedly unpretentious flare for acting and being a family man – loves being recognized for his work.

The only thing he doesn’t love? Being lumped with the Oz Pack of actors; pretentious types that include Russell Crowe. And he shouldn’t love that. Purcell is as unpretentious and intuitive an actor as he sounds, walking it like he talks it all the way.


MEN’S EDGE: I’ve only been to Australia once. And I was drunk. What’s so different about Sydney – where you were born – and the suburbs you were raised in?
DOMINIC PURCELL: The western suburbs between the Blue Mountains and Sydney, yeah, Penn Riff and Glenbrook. Very different between those spaces. Bonzai Beach was where I grew up – perfect for a surfer. That’s been my whole life. Very free-spirited. But when my mom and dad split, I went to the inner suburbs. [It was] a little stiffer. So surfing became a commute. Either way, both places were family oriented. Always found myself with that situation.

ME: I know you film Prison Break in Chicago. When you’re home in Los Angeles with your family – you surfing?
DP: Oh, yeah. If I’m not with the kids, I’m in the surf. If I was as good as Kelly Slater, I’d be a professional. It’s the lifestyle I’ve always dreamed about. Unfortunately, I’m just not that good to make it my living.

ME: I lived in the Wimbledon area of London – very Aussie-oriented. You drank, or you died. When did you pick up your first drink and who gave it to you?
DP: Ah. My first was with my old man at age 6. It was a VB: Victorian Bitter. And I remember drinking it and wanting to puke. Didn’t turn me on at all. That changed by the time I hit 15. Suddenly, I was a man possessed. (laughs)

ME: It’s gotta bug you how puritanical – or, even how easily, wussily drunk – most Americans are when it comes to booze.
DP: People are way into moderation – to the point where there’s a stigma attached to it. Even though, myself included, there are plenty of actors who booze it up. I’ll give you a story: I went to this baseball game with my agent. My first game. I had 10 beers – no problem. He had two – way drunk. I wanted to keep going. He pretty much passed out. (laughs). It’s just an Australian way of life. No second thoughts. It’s all just very social. I guess AA would have a field day in Oz. (laughs) Mind you, it’s slowed down a bit. Had to wise up.

ME: Athletic all the way, more than just surfing?
DP: I was rugby league all the way. I don’t understand how or why you guys bother with pads, though – could never get into it.

ME: I broke a shoulder on the rugby tip. We’re soft.
DP: Consider yourself lucky. You got away with your life. Aussie Rugby League – the guys are as big and as hard as your footballers. There’s just no pads. We wouldn’t know what to do with ‘em.

ME: So how, after all this surfing and football, do you get to theater?
DP: I was going out with this girl in high school. A real cutie. But I remember us having some relationship trouble. At the same time, we went to see Grease, as done by our fellow students.

ME: Grease always solves romantic problems.
DP: The guys were all geeks in that play. The school nerds. Yet, as soon as they hit the stage, the chicks went wild. My girl included. As I’m in the bathroom during intermission, I couldn’t help thinking that if these geeks got the girls that excited, perhaps I should give it a shot. Between that moment and loving the Mad Max movies as a kid …

ME: … a thespian was born.
DP: Yeah. Plus, I sorta passed over college. I never was studious. A bunch of buddies and me started this landscape gardening business, which was actually a joke. It was an excuse to hang outside and drink. But at age 20 – wanting to be rich, famous, have a house, be adored – that was an even bigger motivation toward the acting thing.

ME: So, acting school was you, nerds … and Hugh Jackman?
DP: That’s right. The intellects. The poets. And Hugh. I was the youngest there. The art scene freaked me out. In my movement class, the teacher wanted me to wear tights. I was in my surfer shorts – no fucking way was I wearing tights. That nearly got me thrown out of school.

ME: Were you and Jackman close? Any weird stories about you guys getting drunk and doing Meet Me in St. Louis or anything?
DP: Hughie’s one of these cats who’s close to everyone. We’re even closer now. Totally charming cat. Tons of stories between us I am sworn to not reveal. Chicks-and-alcohol stuff.

ME: Would you say acting for you – since you talk about being an unscholarly type, since you talk about not wanting to do a buck-and-a wing – is purely intuitive?
DP: Yeah, actually. I never read an acting book in my life, despite the attempt. Tried the Stanislavsky thing. Boring. Never understood why you’d even bother adopting someone else’s way. My stick is to make it real. Listen to the other actor. Coming to the arts this way may seem like laziness (laughs). But I operate from the gut. I’m not – like a lot of guys – just concerned with looking pretty.

ME: How did you prepare to play a guy – John Doe – who knew everything? And how the hell could you stand being pretty much in every scene, in every episode?
DP: The answer to both is pure ignorance. Real naïveté. I kinda just rocked off, got the gig without knowing how much I had to learn – all those facts. All those lines of Einstein-like garbage crammed into an hour session at Starbucks. Eighteen-hour days that I had no choice but to do. So you make it entertaining, because if you play that shit stoically, it gets boring real fast. All those scenes – it was grueling. You’re working a physical muscle – day in, day out – doing that incredibly ridiculous, fucking out-there dialogue. By the time I had done 22 episodes, I was burnt. It really played with my head.

ME: Between Doe, Prison Break, shots on House and a supposed pilot for a detective show called Strut, you’ve done tons on the Fox Network. Do you have something on one of the producers over there? Who owes you money?
DP: (Laughs) It’s funny. They like what I do. They like me as a human being. I want to be a part of their organization. It’s a big show of support in a town that shows very little.

ME: Prison Break must’ve been a pretty intense script for you to put down your own thing – Strut.
DP: The first time I read “Lincoln” six months before the show started filming, I knew I loved this guy. The producers were looking at some movie stars. Me? I was busy in Hawaii doing this wonderful drama, North Shore. Show sucked. Ah, don’t write that. OK, write it. It really sucked. Anyway, they called me back, I read it and got it.

ME: Are you a claustrophobic man? Is it tough filming in the gray of Joliette State?
DP: Very much so on both counts. If I spend too much time in any indoors, I go fucking nuts. I mean, I flew from Hawaii surrounded by beautiful women and surf to a place filled with rain, snow and ugly guys. So, at first, Joliette was pretty depressing (laughs). Then, I had to deal with this Death Row guy talking nothing but death. John Wayne Gacy hung out there. Fuck. The place has its energy, its denseness … but it’s a workplace now.

ME: So you spent your share with real-life lifers, then.
DP: Rapists, murderers. After a while, they become a chat like you and I are having. Except I had to figure out what was in the head of a guy who had a 270-plus term in front of him. Twenty-three hours a day those guys are on Death Row. A 15-minute walk is all they get.

ME: Where the hell can a show about two guys either getting or not busting out of the joint be going?
DP: The show becomes so much more intense with each episode. Gripping, really. I just shot No. 13. Brutal to film. Hardcore to watch. Michael and Lincoln do break out. But it’s a question of who gets to come with us, and what happens when we do. And maybe Fox will say let’s have them break out next season. Who knows?

ME: That’s a tease.
DP: Forty-four episodes are written. After that, we have no fucking idea. My guess is that we do get out within the 22 [episodes]. But you also want to know what happens to T Bag and C Note and Percy – follow their journey. That’s what’s really great about Prison Break: You don’t just follow Lincoln.

ME: I think you – as an actor, as a face – are an anomaly when it comes to the Aussie actor phenomena. You totally seem like your own man with an inner dude to show for it. You gotta hate being lumped into that.
DP: Thanks for saying that. I do hate that list – being part of the Ozzie pack. I’ve always been an individual – a man’s man who wanted, did and does his own thing. I more than dislike it – really pisses me off. And you can repeat that.





THE FUNNY THING ABOUT WENTWORTH MILLER is that for television’s most-famous new face – known best for co-starring as the guy who makes jail denim look great in Prison Break – all reports have him planning zilch for 2006. That can’t stay true for long. His high cheekbones and suspicious eye line has made him dramatically prominent, whether in small, pertinent parts in big Hollywood fare (Underworld), art house cinema (The Human Stain with Anthony Hopkins) and smaller-screen dreams, like the underrated ABC’s mini-series Dinotopia, Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Joan of Arcadia.
Did You Know?: Miller was featured in two recent Mariah Carey videos: “It’s Like That” and “We Belong Together.”
Tags: dominic purcell, men's edge magazine, wentworth miller
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