With Universal’s Blumhouse Productions horror/thriller The Purge opening wide in theatres this Friday, June 7th, we chatted with cast member Max Burkholder regarding his experiences while working on the film. Read on!
Fifteen-year-old Burkholder, who portrays son Charlie to parents James (Ethan Hawke) and Mary (Lena Headey), has had a rather prolific career as a voice actor for several animated television series and films, and in addition he currently appears on the dramatic-comedy television series “Parenthood.” In filmmaker James DeMonaco’s The Purge his wholesome and comedic acting talents are dampened, however, as in the narrative he finds himself a member of a suburban family terrorized by home invaders during a twelve-hour period in which any and all criminal activity has been made legal.
Dread Central: What drew you to a project so much heavier in tone than your previous work?
Burkholder: Yeah, this is a little heavier. I guess I just thought that it was a really cool idea, and I’ve always liked things that are sort of based off a singular idea and then build from there. Also, I thought it might be good to go a little past my comfort zone because I’ve never really done anything like a thriller or a horror film before, so I thought that could be interesting.
Dread Central: Were you a fan of horror films prior to joining this production?
Burkholder: I don’t watch them much, but after how fun it was to shoot this one, I might actually start watching more.
Dread Central: How was your working relationship with Ethan Hawke?
Burkholder: He’s very, very serious about his job, but he’s such a nice guy. He was great to work with, and he taught me a lot. And I love “Game of Thrones,” so working with Lena (Headey), oh my god, I was star-struck. It was surreal, but after a while for me she sort of stopped being [her character on that series] Cersei and was just Lena, just my friend Lena.
Dread Central: As an actor, what did you find more challenging: the physicality of the role or maintaining the intensity inherent to it?
Burkholder: I think it was definitely keeping up the intensity. The physicality wasn’t very hard. For most of the movie I’m in a continuously deteriorating emotional state, so that was hard to keep up for five hours a day.
Dread Central: What place within yourself did you go to in order to fuel that intensity?
Burkholder: I don’t suppose that I really go to a place, and I don’t know what other people do, but what I do is sort of try and not to get to a fearful, terrified or scared state. I sort of clear any emotion and then sort of let it manifest.
Dread Central: How was your working relationship with writer and director DeMonaco?
Burkholder: He’s so amazing. He really trusted us with the characters and the script a lot, and the only time he gave direction was when it was necessary. He didn’t over-direct us, which was really nice. We also had a common interest. We both like video games, so that was fun when we were not working, something that we could talk about.
Dread Central: What are your thoughts on the film?
Burkholder: I saw it a couple of nights ago, and I hate watching myself [on screen] personally because I always look and see something and think, ‘I could have done that better, and I can see now that there was a way that I could have done that better,’ but the fan screening was really fun because I got to see their actual reactions to the movie in real time. That was interesting. There was a lot of cheering going on with all of the killing, and that was fun.
Read our The Purge review here!
Directed by James DeMonaco (writer of Assault on Precinct 13 and The Negotiator), The Purge is produced by Jason Blum of Blumhouse (Paranormal Activity, Insidious, Sinister) and Platinum Dunes partners Michael Bay, Brad Fuller, and Andrew Form (The Amityville Horror, The Texas Chainsaw Massacre) as well as Sébastien Kurt Lemercier (Assault on Precinct 13). It stars Ethan Hawke, Lena Headey, Max Burkholder, and Adelaide Kane.
Look for it in theatres on June 7th.
In an America wracked by crime, the government has sanctioned an annual 12-hour period in which any and all criminal activity—including murder—is legal. The police can’t be called. Hospitals suspend help. It is one night when the citizenry regulates itself without thought of punishment. On this night plagued by violence and an epidemic of crime, one family wrestles with the decision of who they will become when a stranger comes knocking.
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