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Under the Dome - Jolene Purdy Interview

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Under the Dome airs Mondays at 10/9 C on CBS.
Jolene Purdy can be found on Twitter @jojopurdy or on Facebook.

Jolene Purdy, who plays Dodee on the new CBS hit show Under the Dome, has been acting since she played an orphan in the musical Annie. Her big break came when she was chosen to play Cherita Chen in the cult classic Donnie Darko, a role that garnered her a lot of praise. She has also starred in such shows as Do Not Disturb, 10 Things I Hate about You, Gigantic, and Glee. Follow her on Twitter @jojopurdy to stay current on what is sure to be an exciting summer for her.

As Under the Dome scored a whopping 3.2 in demo with over 13 million viewers last night, Jolene is poised to break out in a big way. Her character Dodee is an audio engineer for the local radio station in Chester's Mill. When a mysterious dome descends on the town with no way to escape or get supplies, Dodee's natural skills in technology and engineering become vital. She figures out how to hear communication outside the dome in the premiere and that's just the start.

On the eve of Under the Dome's premiere, Jolene Purdy was kind enough to answer some burning questions from SpoilerTV viewers. Below are her e-mail answers to your queries. (I read in another interview that she had not read the book in order to stay true to the TV version, so that question was omitted.) Don't forget to check out Under the Dome on Mondays. The review of the premiere should be posted Wednesday and I strongly suggest you check this show out - fun, summer fare.


What would be your first reaction if you found yourself trapped under a dome? Would it be similar to Dodee or another character on the show?

I would freak out! No cell phone, no way out and no idea what is going on- it would be crazy. Dodee is not as scared of the dome, as much as she is determined to outsmart it. I am glad I get to experience the dome as Dodee, she's a smart, determined, methodical lady.

In interviews with BuddyTV and Red Hearts a few years ago, you talked about the issues of a fuller sized woman getting roles in Hollywood. Have you seen any changes in casting or the entertainment community as a whole? What advice would you give woman of all sizes both in the entertainment field and outside of it?

There are more plus sized women represented in entertainment today. Women like Melissa McCarthy who do fantastic work, and stay true to themselves. The opportunities are not equal in any means, but there are definitely more creative minds out there looking outside of the old Hollywood box. I would say it is more about loving and accepting yourself. Be happy being who you are! If you spend time worrying about what other people think about you, you are just cheating yourself of a life that is yours to live. Be true to you, and in that you can't go wrong.

Jake Gyllenhaal's comment on what a profound affect the character Cherita Chen would have on those who deal with bullying seems to have made an impression on you. How would you like the role of Dodee to influence others? What aspects of the character do you most admire?

I love that Dodee is so smart and not easily persuaded to give up when facing a challenge. I admire her passion and persistence. Some people might overlook Dodee, because she is not too intimidating and her skill set may be considered "nerd-like." As her time under the dome continues, people will realize that she is definitely not someone to be overlooked. I hope this makes people realize the importance of not dismissing people based on their appearance, and your initial response to them. You may really miss out on quite a gem!

You've done a lot of shows since Donnie Darko. Which one was the most enjoyable to work on and why?

I loved the multi-camera sitcom I worked on "Do Not Disturb." Coming from theatre, I think being in front of a live audience was a natural fit, but [Under the Dome] has by far been the most interesting in terms of style, story, and tone. It has also helped me check off some "bucket list" items on my actors dream list.

Your character in Gigantic embraced the paparazzi. Do you enjoy the attention that comes from being in a major TV event like Under the Dome or do you prefer to be more low-key?

I am pretty low key. I definitely appreciate the support and encouragement though!

Under the Dome Questions:

If you could sum up Under the Dome in three words, what would they be?

Beautiful, unexpected, intriguing

How did you get the part of Dodee?

I was sent the script and I fell in love with the concept coupled with the quiet tone focusing on the characters and their journey. I went in to audition, I really geek out over characters and what makes them tick. I found out I landed the role while I was at Disneyland with my mom and sisters! It was awesome to get to celebrate and cheer in a place where it's not considered out of the norm.

How are you like Dodee and how are you different? What was your process in developing the character?

Dodee and I are very persistent. We don't give up easily, especially when people think we can't accomplish something. I definitely plan ahead and play life like you play chess, and so does Dodee. I think the major difference between us though, is Dodee is relatively calm and collected, a little more calculated because she is smarter than I am- as much as that pains me to admit it! She is an electrical engineer, scientifically inclined and linear in thinking. I am an actress, and actresses tend to lead with our feelings and emotions. To prepare I really thought about what Dodee's strengths and weaknesses are. Also, what her passions are: technology, intellect, and problem solving. Being so deeply invested in her passions, she would have little time or desire to be extremely social. Someone who is smart, in this crisis situation, wouldn't necessarily trust just anyone or think she needs anyone. She does however have one person that she needs, loves and trusts, her buddy Phil (Nicholas Strong). When I was figuring out their relationship I drew from the people and relationships in my life. Also, my husband is an audio engineer and he helped me really understand the technological aspect of what Dodee does.

What was the most difficult scene to film so far and what is the most difficult part in playing Dodee?

Dodee is so smart! I like to think of myself as an intelligent woman, but I got nothing on the brains that Dodee's got. I think the most difficult stuff is coming up. I just read episode ten and I am eager to tackle these new challenges. I wish I could tell you, but tune into episode ten and you will see!

What has been the highlight of working on the show so far?

The cast! The relationships I have made with some of the cast I hope to carry with me for life. Nicholas Strong, Alex Koch and I spend so much time laughing together doing nothing at all. It's great!

You started your career in musical theatre and your character works in a radio station. Any chance we will hear you sing?

I would love it! Nicholas and I have had some late night music sessions. It would be pretty cool if we could incorporate our natural musical abilities within the characters under the dome.

What was it like working with Stephen King so far?

Stephen King is awesome! He's so smart, witty and sweet! I told him how the movie IT scared me so bad as a kid! He leaned in and said, "Well you better do a good table read or the clown's gonna getcha..." His work is so creepy but he is so sweet and funny, it makes you think- what's in that head of his?

We have a lot of Supernatural fans at SpoilerTV. What is it like working with Colin Ford? It seems like the two of have fun together from what you've posted on Twitter.

My nickname for Colin is "swag" - he is always so cool has his own chill, energetic style. We hang out on and off set and play pranks on each other. It's fun!

We also have a lot of Breaking Bad fans. What was it like working with Dean Norris again?

When I worked with Dean on Breaking Bad he was so giving as an actor. A real team player. So, when I found out he was going to be Big Jim I knew it was going to be a breeze. He is so charming and funny! A great actor and good time on set!

Who is the biggest joker on set?

We all have a good time! I would have to say that Nicholas is the best prankster ever!

Is there a lot of ad-libbing on set or do you mostly follow the script?

The story is so great and intricate that it is important that we keep to the written words. It's really cool how as we have gone on, the writers hear how we speak in life and have incorporated the text to roll out of our mouths more naturally.

General Questions:

What's the biggest difference between working on a movie, play, and a TV show?

When working on a play you rehearse until it's show time and then you go out there and have one shot to give it all you've got. There is a live audience and you get that instant gratification from your performance. In television, you have the opportunity to develop a character and tell a story that is on going. You have the chance to take multiple takes, but the pace is fast and the filming is not chronological so you have to know what the character is and is not aware of in the scene you a filming. When working in film, it is the same as television in regards to shooting out of order. The major difference from TV is that there is an end that the character is working towards and you as an actor are aware of it and create an arc that leads to it.

Who would you most like to work with in the future?

I would love to work with Julia Louis-Dreyfus. She is such an amazing comedic actress I bet she could teach me a lot!

Anything else you would like to say to your fans?

Thank you so much for your encouragement and support. We have worked so hard to bring Under the Dome to life and I really hope you enjoy the ride!

Watch Under the Dome on Mondays at 10/9 C on CBS 
and don't forget to follow Jolene on Twitter @jojopurdy.


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