Back to playing the bad boy

Prison Break star Dominic Purcell returns to TV as a super villain in DC's Legends Of Tomorrow

Dominic Purcell plays Heat Wave, an arsonist, in DC's Legends Of Tomorrow.
Dominic Purcell plays Heat Wave, an arsonist, in DC's Legends Of Tomorrow.PHOTO: WARNER TV

Ten years after they first set hearts aflutter playing two brothers behind bars in the hit TV show Prison Break (2005 to 2009), Dominic Purcell and Wentworth Miller have teamed up again to play another pair of lovable rogues - Heat Wave and Captain Cold in the superhero series DC's Legends Of Tomorrow.

Speaking to The Straits Times in Vancouver, where Legends Of Tomorrow is filmed, Purcell talks about the strange chemistry that keeps throwing him and Miller together as co-stars, including for the upcoming Prison Break revival that will hit screens later this year.

"You know, it's a very unique combination that Wentworth and I have as actors and as people. I don't think there's too much going on in TV or the film world where two actors get to work with each other as a pairing as we do.

"It's becoming quite comical, really," says the 46-year-old Australian performer, who in Prison Break played Lincoln Burrows, a man wrongfully convicted of murder and sentenced to death until brother Michael Scofield (Miller) concocts an elaborate plan to help him escape.

The Golden Globe-nominated show made stars and sex symbols out of Purcell and Miller, 43.

But the duo faded from view when it ended in 2009; Purcell failed to find traction as a leading man and Miller semi-retired from acting to pursue a career as a screenwriter, penning the 2013 horror thriller Stoker starring Nicole Kidman.

It was 2014 before the pair would have another high-profile role on screen, this time as guest stars on the superhero series The Flash, playing the villains Heat Wave and Captain Cold.

Heat Wave (Purcell) is arsonist Mick Rory, whose weapon of choice is a heat gun, while Captain Cold (Miller) is his partner- in-crime Leonard Snart, whose cryonic freezing gun earned him his name.

The stint went so well that they soon "got word from the powers- that-be that they were going to create a very large TV show and they wanted myself and Wentworth to be part of it as the team of Heat Wave and Captain Cold again", Purcell says.

That show was DC's Legends Of Tomorrow, which airs in Singapore on Fridays at 9pm (Warner TV, StarHub TV Channel 515, Singtel TV Channel 306) and shows the pair teaming up with a gang of time- travelling superheroes to save the world.

Purcell is not entirely sure why fans and casting directors seem to like seeing him and his American co-star together on screen, but believes it has something to do with their genuine friendship.

"I think people get a sense of the difference in us as humans, but also they understand the love and respect that we both have for each other.

"That's a very attractive quality and I think people are really drawn to that," says the actor, who is dating former 90210 star AnnaLynne McCord, 28, and has four children aged 12 to 16 with producer ex-wife Rebecca Williamson. Miller is single but previously dated Killjoys actor Luke Macfarlane.

Purcell adds: "Obviously Prison Break was the catalyst in that dynamic, and I think that's kind of continued on in this show. It's very hard to articulate exactly what it is that Wentworth and I have, but it's kind of an unexplained kind of chemistry, I think."

It was not lost on the pair that their biggest success had been with Prison Break, and it was while they were working together on The Flash that a plan to reboot the series was hatched.

"I think the studio always wanted to revisit Prison Break at some point, but when the show finished Wentworth kind of semi-retired, gave himself a break and focused on writing.

"He's jumped back into the fray now and when we were working on The Flash and talking about it, we decided: Why not revisit Prison Break? So we went to the studio and they were excited about the idea and here we are.

"Prison Break was such an iconic show and they have pulled out all the stops," says the actor of the upcoming 10-episode limited series, which is due to begin production soon.

Few details have been released about the reboot, although former The Walking Dead star Sarah Wayne Callies has confirmed she will once again play Dr Sara Tancredi, the wife of Miller's character Scofield, whom the writers will have to resurrect somehow given that she died at the end of the original series.

It is likely that the revival will also see Scofield and Burrows on the wrong side of the law again, much like the characters the two actors play on Legends Of Tomorrow.

Purcell admits that he rather enjoys playing the bad boy.

With Heat Wave, he "was very excited to play such a bad-ass and a hugely charismatic figure", and one whose straight-talking manner often gets a lot of laughs on the show.

"I had no intention of making it funny, but apparently he's very funny. I think that's because he's just unfiltered and so honest - he says how it is and it's much appreciated."

With Legends Of Tomorrow, the actor is also encountering a whole new kind of fans - those who have been obsessed with the characters since they read The Flash comic books.

"Comic fans are rabid; they're so intense. Prison Break fans are intense as well, but comic people take it to a different degree. The characters really become their idols, and they are very passionate about the genre."

But to this day, the most outrageous thing a fan has ever done to him happened because of the prison drama.

"When I was doing Prison Break, I was in a drugstore and got a tap the shoulder from a policeman, who was looking at me really strangely.

"Then he looked at this old lady who was standing by the till and said to her, 'He's an actor. He's not really an escapee.' And she said, 'No, he is, I've seen him on TV.'

"So this old lady had called the police thinking that I had escaped from prison. But the cop apologised and I quickly got out of there."

•DC's Legends Of Tomorrow airs on Warner TV (StarHub TV Channel 515, Singtel TV Channel 306) on Friday at 9pm.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on March 09, 2016, with the headline 'Back to playing the bad boy'. Print Edition | Subscribe