UNDER THE DOME: Jolene Purdy Interview (2013)

Jolene Purdy (photo credit: Vince Truspin)
Jolene Purdy (photo credit: Vince Truspin)

What does the world do when the dome comes down?  It’s the question everyone will be asking with the premiere of the new CBS drama UNDER THE DOME, based on the Stephen King book.  Depending on whether one is trapped under the dome or inside of it, everyone has a different reaction; some will freak out, some will stare with wonder, some will contemplate their mortal existence.  But for one extraordinary woman, she will see it as a puzzle and it will lead her to a fascinating discovery.  In an exclusive interview, star Jolene Purdy talked about how her character Dodee Weaver becomes the most valuable person under the dome.

So what drew you to UNDER THE DOME and the role of Dodee?
JOLENE:  I get really scared about sci-fi/horror stuff. My imagination goes crazy. So this was something completely out of my comfort zone. But at the same time it wasn’t something so fantastically crazy in a sci-fi kind of sense.  It was really still pretty grounded.  So I was really excited about that aspect. And Dodee, she’s got so many different layers.  She’s brilliant, but at the same time she relates to these gadgets that she’s creating and they make sense, where people don’t.  So as brilliant as she might be, people are a different story.  So she was just really interesting to me.

with that. But there’s another twist that the writers gave her that was so much fun.

Jolene Purdy (photo credit: Vince Truspin)
Jolene Purdy (photo credit: Vince Truspin)

And you just thought, “She’s a technical genius, that’s me.  I have to do that role!”
JOLENE:  (Laughs) Yeah, and now Wikipedia is my best friend ‘cause I’m trying to figure out everything she’s doing.

When you’re talking gadgets and gizmos, when we first meet Dodee, she’s at a radio station.  But we also find out that she is the one that kind of connects everyone with the outside world. What can you share about that?
JOLENE:  It’s not in the traditional sense.  She connects with the outside world in two different ways.  So it’s kind of surprising.  Her being an electrician and things, that it would definitely deal

Are we talking about something supernatural?

JOLENE:  It’s different.  It’s something that you’d never think of.  I got the call from the writers and they were like, “Okay, so how do you feel about this?”  I was amazed and so excited to enter that world of figuring that out.

When the dome comes down in the first episode, we didn’t get to see Dodee’s reaction.  What was her initial reaction once she realizes that they are cutoff from the rest of the world?
JOLENE:  When I first thought about it, when the power first goes out, you look out the window and think, “Is everyone’s power out? Or is my power out? What’s going on?”  She’s a fix-it kind of person, so her first reaction was, “Okay, it’s broken, I need to go fix it,” and then when she realizes there isn’t anything that needs to be fixed, she still has that fix-it mentality and she has to figure it out.  I don’t think she was scared.  It’s almost like she was intrigued.  As strange as that would be.

That’s actually a fantastic reaction ‘cause people do kind of freak out in those situations.
JOLENE:  I would totally freak out, but Dodee not so much.

Jolene Purdy (photo credit: Vince Truspin)
Jolene Purdy (photo credit: Vince Truspin)

She is resilient! What did you come to admire most about her?
JOLENE:  Her intelligence.  Like I lead more with my heart and she leads more with her head.  So just being in that different set of shoes was really interesting.  I think that’s great, but being in that different world and leading with your head is just so smart and has everything has a solution. It’s really interesting.

As time passes, we start to find out that each one of the people in Chester’s Mill has a deep, dark secret, or a different side of them that they keep hidden.  Is that true with Dodee as well?
JOLENE:  I think she’s pretty guarded with everyone, except for her DJ pal Phil Bushey (Nicholas Strong).  She’s kind of got a wall and I think she is kind of one of those people who works in the shadows.  She kind of goes unnoticed a little bit and looked over.  So I don’t think she has to hide, but she does have a wall up.

With Dodee finding the way to communicate with the outside world, does she become the most valuable person around?
JOLENE:  I think she’s the most valuable person around, personally.  But I also think she’s the type of person that likes being in the background, observing and taking everything in.  She’s so smart that she thinks ten steps ahead.  It’s like checkers versus chess, and she’s definitely a chess player.

Does she want to have a sense of power over the situation, or is she kind of more altruistic?
JOLENE:   I’m not sure.  It’s so strange.  Like everything I feel, “Oh yeah, this is Dodee.  I’ve got her,” the writers give me something that really just throws everything up in the air.  So it’s really cool ‘cause you’re on your toes. The character is developing as the story is developing, which is just like in life.  You develop who you are as you go through things in life.  So it’s a really cool thing so see all the colors and changes in what she’s going through.  I always hope for rainbows and butterflies and happiness, and I always hope that she will do good – but you never know!

So if you were caught in a similar situation (and you’re probably going to get this question a lot), what would be the one thing that you’d freak out over that you didn’t have access to?
JOLENE: My phone!  I live in L.A. and everything is so spread out, so chances are if a dome were to come down, I’d probably be cut off from everyone I know.

It’s the isolation then.  It immediately makes you feel alone in the world because we don’t have the ability to communicate.
JOLENE:  Exactly!

"Under the Dome"
“Under the Dome”

Thinking back when you first read the pilot, would you have guessed who would be the first person to not make it out alive? Or were you completely surprised who wasn’t going to make it?
JOLENE:  I was completely surprised.  It’s kind of frustrating ‘cause we reading all these scripts and we really want to know.  Like last night, we finished reading Episode 10 and we were like, “No!  I just want read Episode 11 now.”  But they couldn’t give it to us.  Every episode, I’m like, “No way!”  It’s just so good.  The people that are coming in and not leaving just blows your mind. There’s people that have left, but I’m really glad that they were a part of the chess game for a little bit.

It kind of feels like an Agatha Christie mystery where you’re constantly wondering who is going to go next.
JOLENE:  We were just shooting Episode 10 yesterday and we were thinking just that:  “Who do you think is next?”  It’s creepy to think of it like that, and we’re all speculating. So it’s definitely like that.

They are obviously employing a lot of cool special effects to demonstrate that there’s this massive dome that you can’t see.  Which has been your favorite one?
JOLENE:  The cow was disgusting.  I remember reading the pilot and reading about the plane, and that was crazy.  There’s been some other things that they have done recently and I can’t wait to see how they enhance it with the new technologies that are out there now.  Like the truck, the way that it imploded into the dome was crazy.  I remember people showing me footage from it and that gave me chills, seeing it live on camera without the effects. And there’s one coming up that I get to dabble in and I’m a little bit excited and a little bit nervous.

"Under the Dome"
“Under the Dome”

What we have seen of the dome initially is pretty cool.  It’s not just invisible and no one can see it, it’s interactive.  It does different things at different times.
JOLENE:  (Laughs) The dome is definitely a character.

What would you like viewers to watch for and look forward to?
JOLENE:  I think the fans are really going to like the story because it’s not just a sci-fi story.  There is the sci-fi element there because it’s present and you can’t forget about it.  But it’s not the focal point.  The focal point is the characters and their interaction and reaction to this crisis situation that they have been put into, and just everything that transpires and the human spirit through all of it. I think that is a really cool aspect.

It is cool ‘cause we’ll be watching trying to figure out who were rooting for and why we’re rooting for them.  It is a fascinating way to look at this microcosm.
JOLENE:  And I think who you’re rooting for is going to change.  For me, personally, it has changed – and for my character, it’s changed.  It’s like this ever-evolving thing.

How has this filming experience working on UNDER THE DOME been for you?
JOLENE:  I’m in love with the cast.  I always say, “I really love the cast,” but this time I’m in-love with this cast.  It’s been a blast.  It feels like summer camp, but more cool because we get to do some really cool stuff, not just archery and whatnot.  We get to do what we love.  Everyone is just so down to earth and so good in reaching out.  Being in Wilmington so far from home, it’s really nice to have this family that you can rely on, and we really do have like family dinners on Sundays.  Like we had a luau last weekend.  We even wore grass skirts and drank out of coconut cups and stuff like that.  It was so much fun!

To see all the chaos and mysteries that ensue when the dome comes down, and just how Dodee figures out how to communicate with the outside world, be sure to tune in for the premiere of UNDER THE DOME on Monday, June 24th at 10:00 p.m. on CBS.

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"Under the Dome"
“Under the Dome”
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