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Zach Gilford (The Purge: Anarchy)

Zach Gilford: The Interview (The Purge: Anarchy)

The Purge: Anarchy is a sequel to last year's The Purge and tells the story of how a group of strangers survive the annual night where for 12 hours all crime is legal. In anticipation of the film, Blumhouse and Universal teamed up to bring fans The Purge: Breakout, an immersive escape experience that has you try and escape from a killer's demented house before the annual Purge begins and you're killed. Shakefire had the opportunity to talk with lead Zach Gilford about the film as well as experience The Purge: Breakout for ourselves.

Shakefire (SF): Had you seen the original The Purge?
Zach Gilford (ZG): Yeah, I saw the first film. I liked it; I thought it was fun. I think this is a really cool way to build a franchise where it’s based on a concept as opposed to characters. It’s looking at the Purge through different people and in a different situation. I like that it’s not following a single person through Purge after Purge. I think it’s kinda a cool way. The next one, I know they haven’t written it yet, but I know they have ideas. I’m just kinda curious to see how it’ll be done.

SF: Can you talk about the production? The cast was announced in December, filming just ended in February, and now we’re already almost at the release date. What’s it like to have a production that quick?
ZG: It was a super quick turnaround. We shot the movie in five weeks. It would have been nice to have another week, but really the days weren’t too bad. We rarely went over 12 hours, which is a standard day. They really scheduled it in pretty well. It definitely was, “Let’s go, let’s do it!” We had to come to work ready. You couldn’t always take a few takes to figure it out. You just had to do it and make sure you got it right.

We had a really good time with the cast. The director James DeMonaco is so awesome to work with. You know, my wife played my wife in it so it was funny with her. But yeah, it was kinda like, “Let’s go shoot this crazy movie.” We’re running around, shooting guns and whatever and just knock it out. It was a fun, short experience.

SF: How did that come about with your wife being cast as well?
ZG: Just totally randomly.

SF: That’s how the chips fell?
ZG: Yeah, exactly. We both went and met with them separately. They didn’t know we were married until later in the process.

SF: In the film, you two are going through a separation. How did that change the dynamic of being stuck out during the Purge together?
ZG: Well it’s one of those things where in the beginning you learn very quickly that this couple is separating. We’re not on good terms and then we’re put into this extreme situation. It’s an interesting thing because you see how their minds work. I can’t imagine any couple would be like, “Well, we’re getting divorced anyway. I’ll see you later. Have fun!” It definitely forces them back together for a bit and you see if at the end they’re ready if their feelings have changed or they want to keep going their separate ways.

SF: Some of the most disturbing moments of the film weren’t actually the murders but the disparity between how the rich and the poor handle the Purging different. For the rich it’s more entertainment while for the poor it’s survival.
ZG: Exactly. Also the concept of the government doing this to purge and cleanse the lower class. It kinda makes sense a government would do that in a disgusting and disturbing way.

SF: Did you have a favorite scene to film?
ZG: There’s a scene with rats that was pretty memorable, because we were in an alley with a lot of real rats. We had a tamed rat that we used to crawl up the leg, but there were also plenty of wild rats that just wanted to be part of the movie as well. It was very memorable.

SF: How was the Purge: Breakout experience? Was it scary?
ZG: It was awesome. It’s weird, I don’t know if scared is the right word but it was definitely fun. This is really cool because you don’t know what’s going to happen, you don’t know what you’re supposed to do. You have to figure it out. It makes it feel much more real. Once you’re in there it’s shocking that you’re just in two trailers. It’s phenomenal.

SF: How do you think you’d do during a real life Purge?
ZG: I would get locked up in a bunker somewhere. I would survive it, but I would be hidden and locked away incomplete safety.

SF: Maybe try to find Frank Grillo.
ZG: I don’t need Frank. He’s a liability.

SF: How was it working with him?
ZG: He’s great. He’s fun. He made me laugh so much. He’s hilarious. He just cracks me up. And going in people were like, “Oh you’re working with Frank? He’s intense.” Well what’s that mean? He just cares about what he’s doing and stands up for what he believes but he’s really fun. He’s a great guy to work with.

SF: As an actor you’ve done both television and film. With TV you have a season or sometimes years to develop these characters while with film you only have a two hour movie usually. Do you have a different approach when doing characters from each?
ZG: Well it’s really just based on what’s on the page. There’s no getting into, for me. On TV, you really see them change and develop because it’s over years of that character’s life so people change. In a movie, it’s like seeing the arc they take. You know the arc from beginning to finish as soon as you start out on it. On TV, it’s being written as you go along and you have no idea how long the show is going to last. It’s gradually being figured out and developed and discovered. In a movie, you go in knowing that you have to get this person from A to B and what’s the best way to picture that.

The Purge: Anarchy opens in theaters nationwide on July 18, 2014. The Purge: Breakout is currently in Atlanta through June 1 and will then travel to cities across the country. You can purchase your tickets at www.thepurgebreakout.com. Be sure to also read about how we survived (or didn't surive) the experience!

Matt Rodriguez
Interview by Matt Rodriguez
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