'The Purge’ breakout star Jessica Garza talks about this 'role of a lifetime' and wonders if we are all susceptible to purging

While some of ‘The Purge’ movies felt a bit rushed, Garza spoke about how adapting the franchise to TV really helped flesh out those stories.


                            'The Purge’ breakout star Jessica Garza talks about this 'role of a lifetime' and wonders if we are all susceptible to purging

A television adaptation of ‘The Purge’ franchise is set to hit our small screens on September 4th, and fans couldn’t be more thrilled. Just like the films, the series will follow seemingly unrelated characters in a small city during a 12-hour period of time when all crime is legal. The series will follow four storylines, one of which tells the devastating story of a US Marine named Miguel (played by Gabriel Chavarria) and his little sister Penelope (played by newcomer Jessica Garza).  After returning home from overseas, Miguel finds out his little sister has joined a cult that believes it’s their calling to sacrifice themselves during the purge to reach the afterlife. Meaww got to speak with Garza to get her take on the challenging role, and how being a part of this huge franchise has changed her life.

While some of ‘The Purge’ movies felt a bit rushed, with audiences wishing they had more time with the characters, Garza spoke about how adapting the franchise to TV really helped flesh out those stories.

(L-R) Tom Kelly, Fiona Dourif, Jason Blum, Anthony Hemingway, James DeMonaco, Brad Fuller, Amanda Warren, Gabriel Chavarria and Lex Scott Davis attend the 'The Purge' Press Line during Comic-Con International 2018 at Hilton Bayfront on July 21, 2018 in San Diego, California. (Photo by Dia Dipasupil/Getty Images)
(L-R) Tom Kelly, Fiona Dourif, Jason Blum, Anthony Hemingway, James DeMonaco, Brad Fuller, Amanda Warren, Gabriel Chavarria and Lex Scott Davis attend the 'The Purge' Press Line during Comic-Con International 2018 at Hilton Bayfront on July 21, 2018 in San Diego, California. (Photo by Dia Dipasupil/Getty Images)


“I think the really special thing about our show is that we have a lot more time, we have ten hours to tell this story as opposed to the movies. We have several flashbacks throughout the season illustrating how Penelope got to this point in her life on ‘Th Purge’ night.” Penelope’s storyline mainly focuses on the cult and her relationship to her brother Miguel.  Interestingly, Garza and Chavarria formed a great bond both on and off camera, in a fortuitous circumstance in which life did imitate art.


“Me and Gabe, we get along very well, I think we might have been siblings in another life.  But I think I was his older sister and he was my little brother.  It’s actually very similar to Miguel and Penelope’s relationship, she’s almost the adult of the two even though she is significantly younger.  And at work that's the same kind of relationship me and Gabe had.  He is honestly one of my best friends, it’s so weird how I met him 3 months ago and now he is a forever friend.” 

A newcomer to Hollywood, it took Garza longer than she thought to land her dream role, receiving rejection after rejection.  However ‘The Purge’ was worth the wait, as she couldn’t imagine any other role being as satisfying as this one. “I had been auditioning for so long and I had come so close to so many things.  I was always the second choice for a year or two.  So when this came around, you kind of get to a point where you become number two so often that you try to shut all of your feelings down, you don’t want to get too excited but you don’t want to get too cynical.  It’s a weird balance of just trying to stay clam and collected but it’s really hard when you look at this kind of show and this kind of role…it's the role of a lifetime, it truly is.”

Jessica Garza as Penelope in The Purge (USA Network)
Jessica Garza as Penelope in The Purge (USA Network)

One of the reasons ‘The Purge’ franchise is so successful is because of the tangible horror that something like this could potentially happen in our society.  Of course, chances are our world will never come to this, but the idea of giving up your humanity for twelve hours and seeing what you and others are truly capable of is a terrifying thought. 

Garza expanded on that, telling us about what truly haunts her about this story. “I think for me what makes it scarier is the idea of who would be out to get me, and would I be capable of doing the things that people do on this night?  With that being said, I don’t think anyone thought we would be living in the politics that we do today, and we are, so it's hard to definitively say that this could never happen.  However, I think what haunts me about our show in particular, is I think that we can all find ourselves with a reason to purge, but are we all capable of doing so?  Are we all susceptible of purging?”

One would assume that being on the set of ‘The Purge’ would be pretty terrifying, but oddly enough, Garza described the set as one of the most “chill sets” she has ever been on. “Despite the high stress, high anxiety and fear that ‘The Purge’ produces in people, I think this has been a very calm, very chill set. We try to have fun because the story is so dark and the material is so heavy.   But we definitely did have a lot of creepy crawlers roaming around on set sometimes, but you get used to it like, ‘yea, that’s a bloody nun.  He’s here, it's Tuesday, this is his day.”

Make sure to catch Garza in her breakout role in ‘The Purge’, premiering on September 4 on USA and SYFY.