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Joel Allen talks The Purge’s Ben Gardner, Intense Scenes (Interview)

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Joel Allen discussed Ben Gardner’s connection to The Purge’s memorable God Mask, its symbolism, and Season 2’s intense scenes at NYCC 2019.

There is no question late into season 2 of The Purge, that Ben Gardner and The God Mask have merged into one. No longer Jekyll and Hyde, Ben Gardner is still wearing the mask even when he isn’t. During a one-on-one exclusive interview back at New York Comic Con 2019, just a shade under two weeks prior to The Purge Season 2 Premiere… Joel Allen discussed what The God Mask meant to him as both a character and as an actor, the amped up intensity of Ben’s scenes, and what’s it like shooting them on-set.

Watch the full interview with Joel Allen above or read the transcript below:


Nir Regev: What does The God Mask mean to you as both an actor and as a character?

Joel Allen: I mean you can just dive right into that symbolism and just lean into that hard. The God Complex that comes with it. So, for the character it means a ton and for me as an actor, it’s like a gift from the writers.

During the The Purge Season 2 premiere, when the original owner of The God Mask gets on top of Ben… Was that supposed to be an attempted sexual assault? He did say ‘he wasn’t really going to do anything’ once Ben got the upper-hand with the knife. Yet, it definitely felt like more than just intimidation was happening there.

I mean, my fear in that moment was pretty genuine because it was very vague in the script. And it wasn’t till we showed up on the day to shoot it, that it was apparent, that oh… This is a sexual assault situation! So yeah, it was pretty intense for me and scary. But that’s what’s going on, yeah. Which is something that I haven’t really dove into much, in this series at all, or the franchise. So, it’s kind of a unique moment.

Is that the first time you’ve done something like that in your acting career? Having to be vulnerable to that kind of level?

Yeah, and I’m a big guy as you can see. So, it was difficult to find… But I have been on the other side of that as an actor in some projects. So, it was nice to be on the other side. Not that I would want that to happen ever to me but you know to get that flip of perspective for sure.

Joel Allen (Ben Gardner) holds The Purge's famous 'God Mask' at New York Comic Con 2019 to promote Season 2 of the USA Network TV Series - Photo Credit: Nir Regev / The Natural Aristocrat

Joel Allen holds The Purge’s famous ‘God Mask’ at New York Comic Con 2019 to promote Season 2 of the USA Network TV Series – Photo Credit: Nir Regev / The Natural Aristocrat

When somebody survives an attempted Purge… Do you feel there’s some kind of attraction to the Purger’s power that on display?

With my character definitely, you get a sense of that. It’s teased that perhaps there is a complete shift in behavior and personality. But I don’t know through Marcus’ character if there is that… Right? So, you get to see two different trajectories for different purposes but obviously within the first episode you see that, you know, it wasn’t just an attempt that it led to…

How much did Ben hate his friend Turner after he left him there after the suicide bridge scene?

Oh it was terrible! I mean, I pretty much hate him throughout the show because of that. As you can imagine… Being devastated like that. Swell guy, great actor [Matt Shively], really nice person… But yeah, you’ve really got to hate him! You have to… It’s the job! (laughs)

That stabbing scene in the premiere… That was brutal! Did you shoot that all in one take?

No, no. That’s very difficult because you know this is my first big franchise, big TV thing. So the machinery of it is not necessarily conducive to acting. But you have to really kind of stay in it because there’s like you know, you’d stab a few times and then spray me with blood. Then stab a few times, then spray again, and just like take after take after take.

You’re doing different angles and I had to be shirtless throughout the day, being doused in the blood. But then cleaned up to have less blood for when you reshoot the scene.

Joel Allen (Ben Gardner) holds The Purge's famous 'God Mask' at New York Comic Con 2019 to promote Season 2 of the USA Network TV Series - Photo Credit: Nir Regev / The Natural Aristocrat

Joel Allen holds The Purge’s famous ‘God Mask’ at New York Comic Con 2019 to promote Season 2 of the USA Network TV Series – Photo Credit: Nir Regev / The Natural Aristocrat

What is it like having to stay in that mode?

Miserable! Oh, It’s awful! But you learn a lot. But I’m not missing those days when I had my body covered in this cold blood. And it was really dirty, this shed we were in. So, not the most enjoyable thing to do.

The first season cast didn’t make it to The Purge Season 2. Would you like to be in a potential The Purge Season 3? Not in the sense that your character Ben lives or dies this season. Ben Gardner could always still make a cameo in a flashback, even should something happen to him this season. More, do you think they’re going to keep resetting the The Purge’s cast every season?

Right, I won’t tell you what happens to my character but… If it were possible to bring me back, yeah, I had the time of my life shooting this show! Everybody in the cast and crew is awesome and we tell a really compelling story. So if they were able to tell another compelling story in another season, yeah I’d be back! For sure!

Joel Allen (Ben Gardner) holds The Purge's famous 'God Mask' at New York Comic Con 2019 to promote Season 2 of the USA Network TV Series - Photo Credit: Nir Regev / The Natural Aristocrat

Joel Allen holds The Purge’s famous ‘God Mask’ at New York Comic Con 2019 to promote Season 2 of the USA Network TV Series – Photo Credit: Nir Regev / The Natural Aristocrat

I’m just curious, do you wear glasses on this season ever?

No, I don’t wear glasses on the show. I wear my contacts on the series.

A lot of actors say if they have some kind of makeup for an injury on their face and they look in the mirror it effects the way they act. Do you feel whether you have glasses on or not when you’re performing, that it affects your portrayal at all?

Yeah, yeah of course! Everything has to be really specific, physically, at least if you want to believe the world you’re living in. So, definitely yeah! I try to take into consideration all the things, the posture, and the way they talk, and hold themselves. The physical things you take on.

You’re like The Purge Clark Kent, you take off the glasses and go Purging!

Yeah, exactly! (laughs) You recognize me? (takes off glasses, looks straight into the camera).

Thanks Joel!

Thank you!

Joel Allen (Ben Gardner) holds The Purge's famous 'God Mask' at New York Comic Con 2019 to promote Season 2 of the USA Network TV Series - Photo Credit: Nir Regev / The Natural Aristocrat

Joel Allen holds The Purge’s famous ‘God Mask’ at New York Comic Con 2019 to promote Season 2 of the USA Network TV Series – Photo Credit: Nir Regev / The Natural Aristocrat

Missed last week’s episode of The Purge? Catch up with The Purge Recap of ‘Should I Stay or Should I Go’

Be sure to watch my interviews with The Purge’s Paola Nuñez, Rochelle Aytes, James Roland and Krystal Houghton Ziv!

Catch more of The Natural Aristocrat’s coverage of USA Network’s The Purge in The Purge category page.

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