This week, actress Jolene Purdy took the spotlight in the Stephen King adaptation “Under the Dome” as the tech savvy Dodee Weaver. The actress, who got her start in 2001’s “Donnie Darko,” has since made an impression with regular parts in television shows like “Breaking Bad,” “Glee,” and “Raising Hope” (she’s been busy).
But will she survive her time trapped under the dome with the other residents of the small Maine town of Chester’s Mill? And what does she think of the experience of bringing a character from Stephen King’s writing to the screen?
MTV Geek: How familiar were you with “Under the Dome” before taking the part of Dodee?
Jolene Purdy: I am not a scary movie/book kind of gal. I got the chance to thank Mr. King for freaking me out as a kid with “IT.” So, I had never heard of “Under the Dome” before auditioning. After joining the show I began to read the book. Dodee in the book dies pretty early on and that’s when I decided to stop reading the book and let the writers of the show lead me on Dodee’s journey in “Under the Dome.”
Geek:Her namesake in the novel is a very different character from the one in the show–tell us about your Dodee?
Purdy: My Dodee is a technical genius. She has gadgets overflowing out of every nook in the radio station. The pieces that don’t work aren’t broken in need of being thrown out, they just need to be fixed. She confides wholly in one person, Phil Bushey, her best friend. Dodee was raised by her deaf mother and wasn’t truly exposed to music until Phil opened her eyes to rock and roll at WYBS. She is sarcastic and witty. Dodee has the very best intentions but doesn’t quite understand how to relate to people.
Geek: So what kind of conversation did you have with the series creators about Dodee? Was there any kind of prep they wanted you to go through for the role?
Purdy: Jack Bender, Niels Oplev, Neal Baer and Brian K. Vaughn were the most integral in helping us build our characters. We really wanted Dodee to be real, grounded, humorous in a dry sort of throw away kind of way. We discussed her tech genius and lack of understanding when it came to interpersonal relationships. The most specific prep I did for Dodee was learning sign language. It is a beautiful language that I would love to continue studying.
Geek: Would you say she’s more on Barbie’s side or Big Jim’s side in the grand scheme of things? Why?
Purdy: Dodee puts her faith in Big Jim, hoping he is going to save the day. I told you she is a bad judge of interpersonal relationships!
Geek: Your first big screen part was in “Donnie Darko”–how did playing Cherita change things for you? Given the way fandom for that movie kind of exploded, do you find yourself getting recognized?
Purdy: “Donnie Darko” was my first audition ever! It opened my eyes to the possibilities within camera work. I come from live musical theatre, but after “Donnie Darko,” my career took a different turn.
I remember the first time I got recognized: I was at a diner with a friend and this couple in the booth next to us kept looking at me. It made me feel a little self-conscious and then I became perturbed. I decided to hold eye contact with these people and say “hi” it was going to go down! After doing so, the woman was so sweet and simply said, “I love ’Donnie Darko’ and you are my favorite character.” I was so embarrassed! I thanked her and I’m sure I turned red! How was I supposed to know?
Geek: What else do you have coming up?
Purdy: Comedy! I’m looking forward to jumping into this next season with laughter.
Geek: Finally, if you were sealed off under a mysterious dome in your own hometown, what would be the first thing you’d do?
Purdy: My family and I had this discussion the other day. I think I would go to one of those huge warehouses and stock up on supplies, fill up all cars with gasoline and make sure everyone I love is safe and close.
New episodes of “Under the Dome” airs Monday nights at 10 on CBS.