Crave talks to Prison Break's Dominic Purcell
Posted: Thursday, February 1st 2007 07:02 PM PST
By Ramone, Junior Member
Things keep heating up on Prison Break. Just when Lincoln Burrows (Dominic Purcell) and Michael Scofield (Wentworth Miller) thought they'd turned the tables on their pursuers, they're on the run again. They even found the president's brother, who Lincoln was framed for killing, but he took himself out of the equation by killing himself. Lincoln continues to be on edge, repeatedly threatening to kill their new ally Kellerman (Paul Adelstein) because he remembers when he was a bad guy. Dominic Purcell seems cool and smooth though, hanging out at TV network parties just ready to talk about the show.
Crave Online: What do you think of Prison Break continuing to change the dynamic?
Dominic Purcell: I think the dynamic of the show is continuing to rise. People are just loving the show and I don’t think Prison Break has a problem with dynamics. It’s just getting more and more intense. I suppose there’s an unusual dynamic between Kellerman and Lincoln and Michael. Lincoln’s having to justify his reasons to why he shouldn’t kill Kellerman so yeah.
Crave Online: Will you get to do any more stunts as you guys run?
Dominic Purcell: The other day I was on a moving train on the roof and that was kind of terrifying. The stunt man was insisting that I was going to be all right but I felt very precarious up there.
Crave Online: Do they let you do a lot yourself?
Dominic Purcell: Yeah, I’m a physical kind of guy. I’ve always liked being physical. It takes a stuntman to really say, "Look, we don’t want you to do this. No, no, I’m serious, you’re not going to do this" to get me not to do my stuff.
Crave Online: Did you expect Prison Break to become such a hit?
Dominic Purcell: Well, you never expect a show to be a massive hit around the world. You just don’t expect that. The best you can hope for when you sign up for a TV show or a pilot is that it gets picked up. That’s your first step. The second step is ratings. So no, I didn’t expect it to do what it’s doing.
Crave Online: Did you always know you'd make it to season two?
Dominic Purcell: I didn’t think that far ahead. I was much more just driven to making sure that the potential was utilized and I believe it was. Prison Break’s become this phenom around the world now. It’s the number one show, well it’s in the top five of every country in the world. It’s like number 2 in Oz, number one in South Africa, number three in London, it’s huge in France. It’s the fastest selling DVD in Japan. Again, it’s massive in Australia. We have a great story here and people dig it. So now I’m kind of expecting it to last for a long time because there’s a lot of money involved. This is going to be a big moneymaker for Fox.
Crave Online: Why do you think it’s a worldwide phenomenon?
Dominic Purcell: I think primarily the rest of the world for some reason is quite kind of interested in American drama. There’s something there that they love about it. We’re talking about a show that’s unique, it’s refreshing, it’s different. It’s not your procedural drama kind of thing. There’s a lot of elements there. You’ve obviously got hunky guys and great stories. We’re dealing with prison, convicts. You’ve got a great guy in Wentworth in the first season, fresh new face. It had all the elements of doing really, really well.
Crave Online: Women like the big sweaty guys, right?
Dominic Purcell: The good thing about the show is that the audience is both, and it’s mainly a younger demographic. I think that’s one of the reasons why we don’t do the 18, 20, 25 share. We do the 12 share because the audience that sees the show are young. When you look at, say, an example, CSI, you’ve got 12 million young people watching CSI and you’ve got 12 million people watching Prison Break, I’m just using it as an example. But with CSI you’ve got another 10 million people who are above the demographic. So we just bring in a core kind of group.
Crave Online: What has it changed for you so far?
Dominic Purcell: Lincoln’s looking after the Purcell family, let’s put it that way. I don't know. I don't think there’s been a great change in me. I think I’m getting older, obviously. I’m just happy to be working.
Crave Online: How do you see the brothers relationship evolving?
Dominic Purcell: I think the relationship hasn’t had time to really grow. It hasn’t had time to really gestate because they’re much more concerned about trying to evade the law. But there have been glimpses. There have been moments of insight into the way the guys are ticking but we haven’t had an opportunity to really explore that yet because the brothers are so caught up in that frenetic world of escaping. As an actor, you’d love to. Michael and Lincoln have to service the plot at present and the other characters are the guys that are getting all the fun stuff to do. Michael and Lincoln are just having to deal with the A story.
Crave Online: What's your real relationship like?
Dominic Purcell: I just have the utmost respect for Wentworth just as a person. He’s very polite, genteel private guy. He’s a good friend.
Crave Online: What do you relate to about Lincoln?
Dominic Purcell: Michael’s sensitive and Lincoln’s sensitive even though he disguises it through his brutality and his armor that he has. The two characters have a similar kind of sense of humor which we’ll be seeing this year. Lincoln tends to call Michael on sh*t a lot and vice versa. So there are a lot of similarities.
Crave Online: Do you ever wish you had switched parts?
Dominic Purcell: No. I never wanted that role. I was always fascinated with Lincoln.
Crave Online: Even when he was stuck in the cell most of last year?
Dominic Purcell: Yeah, I mean, as an actor, I was getting bored towards the end of the show because I thought we had kind of exhausted the hole. And it was hard, but that’s my job to come up with imagination for the role and I always knew that we were breaking out and then so this year is wonderful in that we’re getting to see Lincoln and Michael and all the characters in a different light. But the story was what it was and I said before, then it became my responsibility and my job to use my imagination to create new things for Lincoln to worry about. I’m just thankful that we’re out now because now I feel Lincoln is like reborn. I’m taking this guy in a completely different direction. Well, not a completely different direction but certainly you see a lot more shade and color to Lincoln this year.
Crave Online: Do you have brothers?
Dominic Purcell: Yeah, I have five brothers.
Crave Online: Did you and Wentworth bond to give yourselves that kind of bond?
Dominic Purcell: Not really. We just good friends. Wentworth and I are pretty easygoing guys. Went’s obviously very, very private but we have a great relationship in that we come to work and we can easily discuss certain things and it’s not a problem. There’s no censorship between us. So Went’s always offering things and likewise. Wentworth and I have to work out, and are working out, the history between the brothers and the way they interact, the way they did before they were incarcerated. That’s been one of the funs and joys of doing this season.
Crave Online: How much is on the page vs. you and Wentworth filling in backstory?
Dominic Purcell: The majority of it is on the page but as actors, we get onto the set and we flesh out stuff. The good thing about this show is that the writers are not married to the words. They trust the actors and that these are the guys, we live within the character. We know these guys more now than the writers. The writers obviously are all about objectives and the structure of the story, but if I read a scene or a line and I’m like, "No, no, no, the wording’s wrong. Lincoln wouldn’t say it like this." I have the liberty to go to the writers and say, or even on the day change it without them knowing just as long as I don’t change the intent of what the writer wants me to say.
Crave Online: What shows do you follow every week?
Dominic Purcell: I don’t watch TV dramas. I watch ESPN, HBO boxing, National Geographic Channel and I kind of like to get some DVDs, movies that I haven’t seen and I just pop them in. That’s usually what I do. Oh, Entourage is one of my favorite shows. I love Entourage.
Crave Online: Would you be good in prison?
Dominic Purcell: No. I don't think anyone’s good in prison. Prison is a terrible, terrible place. Obviously, I’ve done a lot of research on it and it can destroy anyone. I know the etiquette, what to do because from my research, part was talking to inmates and what have you but no, I wouldn’t be good.
Crave Online: What’s the worst crime you ever committed?
Dominic Purcell: I got into a fight when I was 18, I was drunk and I got put into a holding cell for the evening.
Crave Online: What was the fight about?
Dominic Purcell: I can’t remember. I just woke up. They didn’t charge me though.
Crave Online: Shooting in Dallas this year, what do you do there on your days off?
Dominic Purcell: Well, man, I’m a big reader and I kind of, on my days off, I like to read in the mornings. I hang by the pool because it’s so hot. I swim a lot. There’s a boxing gym where I live and I work out there. It’s been an experience in patience for me. I’m a surfer and it’s hard for me to not be near the water, and I have my family. But I’ve really been very happy with the way people of Dallas have treated all of us. They’ve been very hospitable. At the end of the day, man, I’m usually really tired. It’s pretty exhausting but I love Dallas. I love how there seems to be a great infrastructure there somehow. Everything’s clean and well put together and people are very, very friendly. I’m enjoying my time there.
Crave Online: Is moving around part of the life of an actor?
Dominic Purcell: Well, it seems to be for me. Some actors get lucky. They do shows and it’s always at home. For me, I haven’t done one yet. I did a movie in Africa, I’m doing in Dallas, I was in Chicago, I was in Canada. I’m just everywhere.
Crave Online: Where do you consider home?
Dominic Purcell: America.
Crave Online: Is your family in Dallas with you?
Dominic Purcell: It’s hard, man. We’ve got four kids. I’ve got to do that commute thing. My kids are in school and what have you, so we’ll just see. Obviously next year, if and when the show moves to a different location, they’re going to have to come with me. But we’ll just see what happens. They’re getting fed up with it. My daughter actually said this morning, "I don’t want to get on another plane."
Crave Online: Do you think you'll stay in Dallas next year?
Dominic Purcell: I think third season, I think there are whispers of it maybe being in Florida or Louisiana at this point. That’s what I’ve heard. Whether or not that eventuates, who knows? It also depends on where they want to take the show, where the writers want to set the show.
Crave Online: Are you worried you might go back to prison?
Dominic Purcell: If anyone’s going to be behind bars, I could imagine Michael being behind bars and Lincoln trying to break him out maybe.
Crave Online: How does your family deal with your new fame?
Dominic Purcell: They’re very happy for me. My mother lives in Ireland and Europe and I visited them at Christmas. They were fascinated with the amount of times I was recognized and people freaking out that Lincoln Burrows was walking down a little Irish street. I’m very appreciative and humbled by the success of Prison Break. I’m in a unique position.
Crave Online: Are you a cool dad?
Dominic Purcell: Yeah, man, I’m a hands on dad. I love my kids more than anything. It’s very important to me. I’d give myself a 10 out of 10 for being a dad.
Crave Online: Why do you think Australians are rising to the top of entertainment right now?
Dominic Purcell: I think one of the reasons is the industry back in Australia is very, very small. So the people that make it in Australia, I’m just talking about in Oz, have to have a lot of talent because it’s so competitive. And they bring that kind of thing to the states. I’m not putting down any actors, I’m just saying the majority of them are theater trained, classically trained kind of thing. It’s hard to pinpoint.
Crave Online: Is there any backlash from home for leaving for Hollywood?
Dominic Purcell: No, they get it down there. The industry in Australia has a lot of problems. The government, John Howard hasn’t really supported the arts in any way. The last prime minister that did was Paul Keating and he was amazing to the arts. We’ve lost a lot of funding. I think the stories that are coming out of Australia are just; the people of Oz, the audience in Australia are just not interested. So I think something has to happen there to get the audience back into the movie theaters and support Australian films.
Crave Online: Is it true you used to cut grass to make money?
Dominic Purcell: Yeah, I was a landscape gardener. I left school and didn’t really know what I wanted to do, and I got into landscape gardening. Thankfully, I’m not digging holes anymore.
Crave Online: And you were having a wild time back then?
Dominic Purcell: Yeah, I was pretty wild, silly and stupid. I haven’t had a drink now in 15 months, been sober for a while. I’ve managed to clean up my way. It’s the best thing I ever did. It was time and it’s time to grow up