We survived The Purge TV series set visit!
As this world inches closer and closer to the Purge becoming a reality, it makes sense that we are getting more The Purge properties. With four feature films, the next step is, of course, television.
The Purge TV series is set over the course of a single Purge night. In a dystopian near-future, all crime is legal for a continuous 12-hour period of time, one night per year. The idea behind this is that if people can “purge” themselves of violence and hatred, they are peaceful the rest of the year, and crime stats decrease substantially.
The TV series follows a handful of characters as they experience different parts of Purge night. Lili Simmons plays Lila Stanton in the series, the daughter of Albert and Ellie.
“They are huge supporters of The Purge – they also participate,” Simmons said of her television parents. “Lila is charming and sexy and mischievous and mysterious. This Purge night, she is challenged a bit. You see her vulnerability come out, and what her true motives are. She has some unfinished business she has to take care of before the night is over.”
Gabe Chavarria plays Miguel, an ex-Marine. “He’s got a bit of a hard edge to him, but he’s on a noble mission. He gets this cryptic letter from his sister, and that’s what brings him out on Purge night. He’s about to embark on this journey to find his sister because his family is the most important thing to him. Miguel is totally against the Purge. He doesn’t agree with it. But Purge or no Purge, he is going to get to Penelope, his sister.”
Amanda Warren plays Jane, who is “incredibly driven, determined, successful, and most importantly, self-made.”
Warren adds, “She’s a woman who is in pursuit of opportunity every day. This is Jane’s first night out on Purge night. She is looking to close a very important overseas deal, which is what brings her out on Purge night. The way I look at it, if you are outside of a safe haven on Purge night, you are a participant, whether you are the prey or the predator. So she is participating, and that thought is not lost on her.”
Hannah Anderson and Colin Woodell play married couple Jenna and Rick Bettencourt, who own a real estate design firm together. They are also experiencing their first Purge night as they try to get a deal signed.
“Albert Stanton does his biggest business deals on Purge night,” explains Woodell. “It’s his way of luring people into his home and also the NFFA. We have a friend, Billy Sabian, who went the year before, and he wasn’t forced to join the NFFA. He got out safe, so he is kind of like our template that this is possible.”
“They are both in survival mode,” Anderson says. “Our marriage and our morals hang in the balance.” They both sign paperwork that says they can neither Purge nor be Purged… but is paperwork signed on Purge night legally binding?
“We do get pulled into the violence – against our will,” Anderson continues. “Once you get in [to the party] you can’t leave. So we get in, we sign this deal, we find a corner, and we hide. Literally, that’s what Jenna says. But then things happen that are out of our control and we get pulled into a situation and that’s where the real divide seems to happen between the two of us.”
“What we are also not expecting is that there are particular people at this party that we were not planning on seeing,” Woodell adds. “That is creating a whole new dimension of tension between us – and also distance. Being distant from your spouse in a hostile environment is not the best case scenario. This thing we sought out to do together all of a sudden becomes this individual journey for both of us, and we don’t know how to navigate it.”
A small cadre of journalists visited The Purge set in New Orleans. Showrunner Tom Kelly told us that the show is not actually set in New Orleans. “It is set in small town America. We don’t specify a town, so that everyone can identify with it.” He also tells us that, while this season of the show is set in 2027, it doesn’t feel “futuristic,” so don’t expect to see any flying cars or robot companions.
We got to see two sets during our time in New Orleans. One of them, the centerpiece of the show, we are under strict instructions not to describe until the episode airs, but let me tell you… it is fabulous, and it kills me that I can’t talk about it. Look for it to appear on-screen in an episode airing towards the end of September. Trust me, you will know it when you see it.
The other set we spent some time in was Pete’s Cantina, a speakeasy run by a cop. Though run-down and decrepit on the outside, the inside has been totally renovated, offering an updated art deco look. Pete’s Cantina is a neutral zone. Purgers can come in, relax, and get a drink in between Purging activities. There are no laws that designate Pete’s as a neutral zone; it is just an understood and accepted rule.
Waiting for us in the Cantina was a selection of masks, representative of what we will see in the show. Costume designer Lauren Bott took us on a tour through some of the masks. “We kept the designs simple, and kept a human element to keep things scary,” she told us. It was important for the masks to have a “DIY factor,” and to “keep them different.” Bott told us that they made an average of 10-15 different masks per episode. One was a pig mask, cut in half, then squished and pinned together. Another is a nun mask, with dentures that are popped out and rearranged. Fiber optic lights edge the nun’s habit to give her an unearthly glow. Another mask features pearls and diamonds with gold-dipped straw on fishnets. Bott insists that this one is not scary – that the Purger with this mask also has a machine gun to up the scares. I disagree with Bott; I think that this one is particularly grotesque.
A selection of serial killer masks was made for the wealthier Purgers. They are “chic, not gross,” and are worn by the attendees of the Stanton family’s ball. Jeffrey Dahmer, Lizzie Borden, the Zodiac Killer, Susan Atkins, and Ted Bundy are among the “chic” masks. “We took their natural face, pulled out features, and added shadows,” Bott explains of the process, which gives 6-10 variations on each mask, with seven killers to choose from.
The show also stars Lee Tergesen as Joe, “an armored, masked, and seemingly ordinary man who drives through town intervening acts of Purge violence while listening to the taped lectures of a motivational life coach;” Fiona Dourif as “the much-adored, charismatic cult leader Good Leader Tavis. Cool, but offbeat, she dispenses blessings to her fawning followers;” William Baldwin as Don Ryker, Jane’s boss at her investment firm, he is “handsome, confident, powerful, and he appears to be a big Jane supporter, but he may in fact be standing in the way of her career advancement;” and Jessica Garza as Penelope, Miguel’s sister, a member of a Purge-worshipping cult, where she has “pledged herself to be sacrificed at the behest of their charismatic leader.”
The Purge premieres September 4th at 10pm on USA Network.