Interview with Jolene Purdy from CBS and Stephen King’s Under the Dome

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Photo by Vince Trupsin

Under the Dome premieres on CBS June 24, 2013 at 10/9c. The show is based on Stephen King’s book of the same name and follows a small town as it gets trapped inside a mysterious dome. We had the opportunity to chat with one of the actors on the show, Jolene Purdy. Check out the interview and the preview below.

John “Spartan” Nguyen (Nerd Reactor): Hey Jolene, how’s it going?

Jolene Purdy: Pretty good, how are you doing?

NR: Doing great.

Jolene Purdy: I am. I’m very excited.

NR: When did you get into acting?

Jolene Purdy: When I was a kid, I pointed at the TV and I told my mom I wanted to do that. A couple years later, she enrolled me in a children’s theatre. So I grew up doing musical theatre, tap dancing, singing. Then my first ever audition for film and TV was Donnie Darko. I did that and then I started singing at Disney, still doing musical theatre. I don’t know at what point it happened, but I switched over to TV and it’s been kind of a roller coaster. It’s been fun and challenging. It’s a different play every week, you know?

NR: Yeah. I find it interesting how there are certain people that start off singing and they venture off into doing acting or vice versa. I was wondering, in your case, do you know why that is?

Jolene Purdy: For singing, I worked on my voice, but it was definitely a blessing that I was given. The thing that I loved the most about singing was bringing people into the story that the song was telling. So I think it was natural to switch over into acting. I still sing, but I really think I started focusing on the story more. That’s what led me down the acting path.

NR: You’ve done some different TV shows and movies, so there’s a pretty broad range. Donnie Darko is pretty dark. Breaking Bad is pretty dark, Glee is pretty happy. Is there a specific genre that you enjoy the most, compared to the others?

Jolene Purdy: I love comedy, because feeling the timing and riffing off of other people and improvising and multi-camera sitcoms where it seriously is a little play every week in front of an audience. I love that, but right now, working on Under the Dome, I’m out of my comfort zone, and I think when you’re out of your comfort zone is when you’re forced to grow. That experience is challenging, but it’s so much more rewarding. When you wrap a day and you know that you gave everything that you had that day.

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NR: It’s like, you give everything but then the thing with that is, it’s scary. You’re not sure how it’s going to end up.

Jolene Purdy: Yeah. It’s really cool – on Under the Dome, we trust each other. It’s kind of crazy. The cast – we just trust that the other person is so good at what they do – and we’re in the hands of some of the best writers and producers and directors – and so it’s really easy to focus on your work and know that you’re in good hands and being taken care of as well.

NR: Is this your biggest role on TV or movie to date?

Jolene Purdy: I think it’s one of the biggest projects I’ve ever done, yeah. Being a series regular on a Stephen King/Steven Spielberg/CBS summer series – which is new for CBS as well.

NR: Can you give us a little summary about your character and a little summary about the actual show?

Jolene Purdy: Okay, so the show’s name is literally Under the Dome. This dome appears over a small town, kind of Anytown, USA. It has trapped everybody that’s inside with the resources that are only inside. So my character is brilliantly smart, and she has these skills. There are these sets of skills that you have in the real world that don’t seem to be so necessary, but in a crisis situation like that it’s amazing the kinds of skill sets that come in handy. She’s a radio engineer and she creates a lot of devices and is doing a lot of problem solving to ensure that herself and her DJ best friend Phil can maintain their radio station and their life inside the dome. They’re quirky.

NR: So the radio station – you’re pretty much giving entertainment to the people in the dome?

Jolene Purdy: Yeah, music – it’s the only line of communication to the outside world. Or within the dome.

NR: This kind of reminds me of The Simpsons Movie, where there’s a giant dome and they’re trying to escape. So I was wondering if there are similarities between those two?

Jolene Purdy: Is that movie where they have that Spiderpig song?

NR: I think the Spiderpig song is in there.

Jolene Purdy: I think I saw it when it first came out. The only thing I really remember is that stupid Spider-Pig song.

NR: It’s pretty catchy. Now that you mention that, we have to do a duet with that song now.

Jolene Purdy: Yeah!

NR: The chorus is pretty easy. Are you ready? I’m going to go for it.

Jolene Purdy: Okay, go for it.

[Both of us sing at the same time] “Spider-Pig, Spider-Pig. Does whatever a Spider-Pig does.”

That’s awesome.

NR: So the whole dome thing is very mysterious. Can you reveal if it’s going to be something magical, or is it something technical?

Jolene Purdy: I can tell you that I get so excited when I see a script because I feel like it’s going to tell me what this dome is. So far it hasn’t. I’m in the dark as well. The book, I know it’s loosely based off the book – the characters and everything. It’s also kind of straying away from it. I chose not to read the book because I wanted to discover the dome as my character and not as myself. I didn’t want to get attached to things in the book that weren’t going to be in the show. So, no. I’m in the dark.

NR: I’m also in the dark too because I haven’t read the book. I’m not sure how things are like or what the aftermath is. I’m kind of like that when I watch TV shows – for example, Game of Thrones or The Walking Dead. I try not to read the books. I know my peers, they read the books and the comic books just because they’re excited. I want to watch the show because I’m more of a TV kind of a guy. So I want to discover it that way.

Jolene Purdy: Yeah. That’s kind of how I am. That’s why I didn’t read the book. They told me that the show was going to be so different, and I’m the type of person, I’ll fall in love with something, then be like, “No! It’s not the same!”

NR: Do you have any nerdy hobbies or anything like that?

Jolene Purdy: Nerdy hobbies… You know what? Brian K. Vaughan, who is writing Under the Dome, has a comic book series out called Saga. I’m starting to read that. I’m really kind of diving into my character because she’s such a tech nerd. I’m not, but I’m learning, because I have to Wikipedia everything I’m saying. I have to really figure out all this tech jargon.

NR: See, that’s pretty nerdy, doing your research on Wikipedia.

Jolene Purdy: Yeah, Wikipedia, and my husband is an audio engineer, so I asked him. I take pictures of the things that I have to work with on the set, and I ask him, “What does what, and what button do I push?”

NR: Was that a coincidence that your husband and your character are audio engineers?

Jolene Purdy: Total coincidence, but I love it because I have my own personal consultant. And then on my way over to shoot the show, on the plane, the guy sitting next to me was an audio engineer. So I feel like it’s meant to be, and I’m surrounded by them.

NR: Where do you see yourself in the future? Do you want to go more into TV shows, or do you want to branch into other things?

Jolene Purdy: I think before this project, I just wanted to keep doing multi-camera comedies because it’s in my comfort zone. It’s what I love; it makes me laugh. But after working on this and working with this cast and directors and writers, I’m stepping out of that comfort zone. I feel like the next thing I’d really like to do is another independent film. To really grow.

End of Interview

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