Best known to worldwide audiences as Lincoln Burrows, the wrongly convicted death row inmate in the hit TV series 'Prison Break,' Dominic Purcell now escapes to the big screen with Hollywood Pictures' Primeval, a nail-biting horror-thriller inspired by the true story of the most prolific serial killer in history.
In one of the most remote places on earth, a bloodthirsty serial killer has claimed over 300 victims, and is still at large to this day. Primeval follows an American news crew determined to capture this terrifying murderer alive. The danger begins as the rag-tag team sets out on a journey up-river in search of their subject. But the deeper they probe into the mystery of this elusive assassin, the deadlier their trip becomes.
Purcell talks about Primeval and 'Prison Break' in the following interview:
Question: We assume you shot this movie on your last break from 'Prison Break'?
Dominic Purcell: Yeah, I just finished 'Prison Break' and went straight into Primeval. I was very excited to do this role, primarily because it was a studio movie. I know that sounds kind of shallow, but it was for me to get on some kind of list there. Just the fact that this thing was based on a true story, and the opportunity to work with Orlando Jones, they were all appealing things to me.
Question: It's kind of a rigorous way to spend your break. Did you actually shoot it in South Africa?
Purcell: Yeah, we did. The first month we shot in Capetown, the second month we shot in Durban, then we went to a place called Ladysmith, just outside of Durban. Three months. Initially, it was very very hot, then it got really cold. I had a lot of artificial rain thrown on me and at 3:00 in the morning, between takes, my shirt would freeze up, so it was a very demanding role. I dislocated my AC joint at one point. It was challenging on all fronts.
Question: Was there something about the genre or the script specifically that made you want to do Primeval?
Purcell: The fact that it was loosely based on a true story drew me in. It also touched on themes that resonated with me, talking about the Rwandan genocide. The analogy of the movie primarily is that we make our own monsters. Gustave, this crocodile, is the result of a war, this thing got a taste of human flesh from bodies that were thrown into the Rowese River, and as soon as it started getting a taste of that, it started preying on humans.
Question: Were there any real crocodiles involved in the shoot?
Purcell: No, the crocodile itself is CGI, and thankfully, the croc doesn't look like Godzilla or King Kong. It actually does look like a real crocodile. It just allows the actors to act in a spontaneous way rather than having to be in a cage or running from a real crocodile. I don't think we would have enjoyed that so much.
Question: Can you talk about your character in the movie?
Purcell: I play Tim Freeman, who's an arrogant self-assured [television] producer who believes that going to Africa to investigate this monster, this crocodile, is beneath him, but once he gets there, he becomes involved in the story and the whole civil war has an impact on him. He begins to empathize with these people.
Question: In a movie like this, which is pretty serious, were you able to have some fun on the set?
Purcell: As actors, we understood what we were doing. This is a genre movie. It's not supposed to be seen as a work of art, as they say, but certainly, we got into some conversations about Gustave and the impact that it's had on these people. These people fear for their lives, and obviously, the croc has been built into mythology with all these people. It's kind of terrifying for them.
Question: You have a bit of experience with the horror genre. You did this movie "Grave Dancers" which just played at the After Dark Horror Fest, and "Blade 3." Did you consider this a horror movie?
Purcell: When I signed up for it, it wasn't a horror movie as such. It just became that with feedback from the studio, from [director] Michael Katelman, myself and Orlando, it just became this thing. I don't have a preference towards horror movies. It's funny, man. I've thought about this myself. It's not likely I actively seek out these movies. They just come my way. At this point in my career, I'm just kind of going with the flow, as they say. One day hopefully I'll be able to make a kitchen sink drama.
Question: You've been jumping back and forth between movies and TV shows. Does it require wearing different heads while doing one or the other?
Purcell: Not really, man. The only different thing is that with films, I have a bit more time to research what I'm doing. TV is a very fast medium. I don't have a preference with either one, just as long as I'm doing stories that are challenging to me, that say something to me. I'm a tradesman as an actor. I kind of just do what I gotta do, and make enough money to feed my wife and to feed my four kids. Again, I'm just appreciative and thankful and got my fingers crossed that things are going in the right direction.
Question: Is it similar shooting "Prison Break" to some of the movies you've made?
Purcell: "Prison Break" is very filmic. You don't get the feeling that you're doing a TV show. You feel like you're doing this massive action thriller.
Question: Are you happy that Fox has been getting behind "Prison Break"?
Purcell: Yeah, I'm very thankful and appreciative. It's one of Fox's successful shows. "Prison Break" is massive around the world. I don't think people, certainly in America, are aware of that. It's the #1 show in all the European markets. In Japan, it was the fastest selling DVD apparently of all time.
Question: How far along right now are you into shooting the second season?
Purcell: We're up to Episode 17. We finish up in March, and we got about six more episodes to do, so we're in the home stretch.