The sequel to summer 2013’s sleeper hit, sees the return of writer/director James DeMonaco to craft the next terrifying chapter of dutiful citizens preparing for their country’s yearly 12 hours of anarchy in “The Purge: Anarchy.”
Read what the film’s stars Carmen Ejogo and Michael K. Williams had to say about their new film during roundtable interviews at Coney Island.
Q: What did you guys think of the concept of “The Purge” before the first movie even came out?
Carmen: I think what the ingenuity of it is that it’s somewhat based in a kind of real concept; if you sort of dig deep into like sociopolitical constructs in America. In some ways violence as a given violence has inevitability in this country is kind of what we’ve come to in some ways. So the idea that you have that as an option for one day of the year is not such a crazy place to imagine some day in the future. We’re almost there; among some demographics and some pockets of society there is already gun violence among people that is self-destructive to the point of this kind of level.
Q: How many years away do you think we are to actually having a purge?
Michael: I think we’re sort of in a purge right now. With the economic structure, the have and the have not’s, the rich and the poor, with the middle class being wiped out; I feel like we’re living a slow motion purge right now. People are not surviving, people can’t support their families, people can’t put food on the table; you got people eating cat food. That within itself is a kind of purge.
Q: What is your position on Dark Themes?
Carmen: I grew up on this sort of stuff and I am anti-gun so I don’t think they necessarily go hand in hand in terms of if you’re watching dark material that your inevitably going to have a disastrous consequence from that experience, I would not have made this film if I thought that was a given. Yeah you might have some crazy people that watch this kind of film but I don’t think that if your of that kind of mentality going into this film that this is going to make any difference one way or the other. I think that if you’re that way inclined, you’re that way inclined. I actually think what’s more likely coming out of a movie like this encourages dialogue and conversation as to what really the nature of vengeance is and the futility of violence, is what rings most true in this film. It’s a cautionary tale ultimately I think my greatest hope would be that it sparks dialogue about gun control and I think that’s much needed and my personal opinion if that’s what you’re asking is that we need more gun control. I come from the UK where this situation is absurd from the outside looking in
Q: What did you enjoy the most from your roles? How is this difference from everything else you guys have done?
Michael: I enjoyed aside from working with this amazing cast, I enjoyed Carmelo’s voice. I love what he stood for; he in my opinion was a mixture between Malcolm X and Huey Newton. He was like a homage to Tupac that drew me to him. The writing I felt like he was speaking to me in my real life; what I felt and saw growing up as a child in Brooklyn. I was very proud to play him.
Carmen: It’s nothing like anything I’ve played before which is what excited me about it. I don’t think as actors we’re interested in playing the same things over and over. What personally interested in me in Eva as a character was the fact that she really represents the working poor in this construct and I think that’s a voice that needs to be heard more of. I think to explore her character in a film that is going to be seen by a lot of people again will hopefully just open people’s eyes to the fact that there are various realities occurring simultaneously depending on how much money you have, and on a night like the purge is when it becomes most manifest and most obvious and most palpable as to how much money really talks; how much you can protect yourself or not and how much you are literally hunted in this society if you don’t have money.
Q: What do you think your character would be doing one week after the purge was over?
Carmen: Getting a better security system for the next year! If she’s really smart she’ll move to Europe.
Michael: My character would probably still be doing the same thing; I don’t see him ever letting his guard down. I see him as probably looking for the next loop hole in society to take his cause to.
Q: Do you think that night sparked the revolution or it has to go again next year the same way?
Michael: I think that night sparked the revolution but I think he saw it for a while coming but it reached a point where he thought it was time to act. After the purge was over I would probably move to the Bahamas!
Q: How would the cast of “The Wire” handle “The Purge”?
Michael: Depends who you’re talking about; Omar would probably be along the same lines as Carmelo more than likely. They probably would be buddies.
Q: Did you see a kinship between those two characters? Your character in this movie represents a lot of the things Omar was representing
Michael: Omar was strictly in his hood. He had his eyes on what was going on in the world but his actions were limited to his community; whereas Carmelo is galvanizing the people of the world. This purge is pretty much attacking America as a whole and the world possibly and I believe Carmelo is talking to everybody whereas Omar just dealt with Baltimore.
Q: One crime you can commit that night…what would it be?
Michael: Walk in to Harry Winston’s.
Carmen: I know I was wondering where to steal from. Give me the keys to Barney’s man! There would be thievery going on in my house.
Q: You’re also working on a new film “Selma” can you elaborate on your role and what we can expect?
Carmen: It’s dealing with the Montgomery Civil Rights March that was to get voting rights in this country. I play Coretta Scott King who is Martin Luther King’s wife and it’s going amazingly. We’re filming in Atlanta and I feel like we’re part of something that’s going to be an incredibly timely film to be making because I think voting rights as every election comes up remains to be an issue; how do we hold on to our vote and not have it sabotaged or disregarded or not counted. The fiftieth anniversary of the Voting Rights Act being put in to place is coming up. So very timely, I feel very responsible playing an African-American first lady of this country really for so many years that’s who she was. I’ve played her before, so I’ve kind of revisited her at a different point in her life which has been a really interesting journey to be on. That’s kind of the point in her life which has been a really interesting journey to be on. That’s kind of a curious thing to place somebody at different parts in their lives and at a different time in my own life, where I bring whole different kind of information to the character than I could have done ten years ago and great cast, David, Laurel was playing Martin, Tom Wilkinson is playing LBJ, Oprah Winfrey has finally just come out and admitted she’s in it as an actress, as well as a producer – she’s amazing. Tim Roth, Martin Sheen, it’s like a crazy range of people and the producers of “Twelve Years A Slave” and others. You know when you’re a part of something that’s really worthy and it’s also going to be creatively, really viable – I feel like that’s what this is turning out to be.
Q: Has there been any discussion of more “Purge” movies?
Michael: It could be a lot. It could be Purge Part 7, 8, with the way the world is going, right now, with war and going abroad – this thing could go all kinds of ways.
Carmen: Who knows? It’s all possible. I think as a construct, it’s open-ended, and, I think, as a writer and director, James is full of very brilliant ideas and creative ideas – so he can tell – in the same way [as] in the second one is so different from the first, although, thematically, were in the same territory, I think it would stay fresh if it kept going and wouldn’t necessarily be a repeat of the same thing. You know, going, ‘Now we’re in Chicago Street, so now we’re in the streets of New York – it could really evolve into something that remains pressy and relevant.
What makes a classic?
Carmen: What turns into a classic, I think it’s rooted in something that has social relevance, ‘cause I think both of those films I just mentioned somehow has a connection to reality enough that it doesn’t feel so far-fetched that you’re in something that is just genre for the sake of genre. And I think, if you’re dealing with thematic and socio-political issues that never go away like these issues of poverty, the voiceless, have and have-nots, these are ideas that are forever. So, I think, if you know how to handle those well and if you’ve got people that are really trying to make art, so, you have a director with real vision and you’ve got actors that aren’t just trying to slot into formula, then I think you have the potential of a classic.
Are you worries about type casting?
Michael: No, I’m not worried about typecasting. I enjoy staying consistently working. I believe that I’ve shown my diversity as an actor from various roles that I have already played and with what I have coming out. The goal from here- right now- is to stay working, stay doing good projects, good work, and keep myself surrounded by good people. That’s my goal right now. I have “Kill the Messenger” with Jeremy Renner coming out in October. I have “The Gambler”, opposite Mark Wahlberg and John Goodman, Jessica Lange. I’m presently filming our fifth and final season of “Boardwalk” and I’m also in Atlanta filming “The Blue Goose Hollow” the Bettie Smith story. I play Jack G, opposite Queen Latifah I play her husband.
Q: Can you elaborate on your role in “The Gambler” opposite Mark Wahlberg?
Michael: His name is Nevil, but he’s at first glance a bookie, a loan shark. But his relationship with Mark’s character there’s a bromance going on, they respect each other. Mark’s character is this guy that he knows he’s in the hole and has the balls to come back and ask for more money and the stuff that he spews out in his defense for more money you can’t help but to scratch your head and laugh and give him the money. You want him to actually win but my character knows that this is coming to a head it’s going to have to enforce his power but he’s intrigued with Marks characters take on life and the gambling world and it’s just a really interesting story.
What do you love about horror?
Carmen: I’m not so much in to the gore aspect. I don’t really know a lot of gore movies that’s definitely not really my thin g but I don’t mind it in like a Tarantino cross genre situation. Like “From Dusk Till Dawn” has gore elements in it but I like the fact that its lots of playing a genre. That I find appealing and for true scares, I think some of the scariest things in this movie like the choreography with those guys with the mask like there’s unpredictability about the way they operate. That for me is fresh and that scare me cause that you don’t see coming.
Q: What scene stuck out in your head?
Carmen: well for me just in terms of really responding to something on screen, was the scene with the guy that comes in to the apartment when I’m trying to protect my daughter. The whole thing just felt very authentic.
The film hits theaters Friday, July 18.