Escape to victory
Prison Break star Dominic Purcell can’t believe how highly the show is rated, writes Erin McWhirter
NOTHING grates more on Dominic Purcell than Hollywood’s obsession with celebrity. Six years after moving from Australia to Los Angeles, Purcell says his best mates aren’t actors but construction workers.
‘‘One owns a concrete business, another is a plumber and the other is a painter,’’ says the 38-year-old who plays Lincoln Burrows in Prison Break.
‘‘We all surf together. That’s the crowd. That’s the crew I hang out with.’’
With a fiery assertiveness, not much fazes this English-born, Australian-raised actor who this year is making the US his official adopted home by becoming a citizen.
Purcell moved to Australia at the age of two and says he lived a carefree existence before eventually getting bored with his job as a landscaper. He headed to drama school.
‘‘There is a beautiful, uncensored way of life in Australia,’’ he says.
‘‘Australians don’t censor themselves so much. It was a huge culture shock for me (when he moved to LA). I’m becoming a bit more politically correct.
‘‘I’m getting some good guidance (from my agent). I need that because I have a healthy ego and I’m a proud guy.’’
Purcell’s new career path has paid off remarkably well. Prison Break was considered a groundbreaking drama when it started in 2005 and his portrayal of death-row inmate Burrows has been equally well received.
The premise of a group of jailbirds, led by Burrows’ brother Michael Scofield (Wentworth Miller), breaking free of Fox River Penitentiary was labelled cutting-edge.
Though ratings have waned in the US and locally, Purcell says the fanfare in countries such as France and Spain is so extreme that on trips there he’s confined to his hotel suite.
In Japan, Prison Break is the highest-selling DVD of all time, he says.
‘‘Internationally, I can’t go out anywhere. I got to this big fancy hotel in Paris about six months ago and there was all this commotion outside. There were literally 500 people outside the hotel and what seemed like 1000 photographers. I innocently said, ‘What’s going on out there?’ I thought Bono was in the building and they were like, ‘This is for you’. That kind of thing happens all the time. In Spain I couldn’t leave my hotel room. That’s just part of the deal being in one of the biggest shows in the world,’’ he says.
Channel 7 is screening season four in Australia, a season that has revealed a darker side of Purcell’s character.
‘‘Playing a more explosive, volatile character is fun for me. Lincoln just gets angrier and angrier. He is kind of tired and fed up with what is going on in his life. I’m good at it. There are certainly bits and pieces of me in Lincoln.’’