Prison Break star Dominic Purcell on Saturday night made his first public appearance since he was seriously hurt in an accident on the set of the new event-series installment of the Fox drama in Morocco on May 30. Deadline spoke with the Aussie actor at the party for the US launch of Bausele — the Australia’s first luxury watch company — for which he’s the Global Ambassador. Purcell, who was joined tonight by his girlfriend, actress AnnaLynne McCord, suffered a broken nose and head injury when a set piece was dislodged and an iron bar fell on his head. Twelve days later, Purcell sported two deep gashes on the top of his head, the larger of which required 150 stitches.
He also received 20 stitches on his left elbow, stitches for his broken nose and near his left eyebrow and had minor cuts on his arms that are healing. But less than two weeks after the accident, Purcell is back in fighting form, telling Deadline that he will resume filming Prison Break on Monday. After a location shoot in Morocco, which doubles for civil war-torn Yemen, where the breaking-out-of-prison action is set, production is returning to Vancouver next week. Purcell recounts the grisly accident — he thought he was going to die — and its aftermath, including the search for medical help in rural Morocco. He also shares details about the plot of the anticipated 9-episode Prison Break revival, from series creator Paul Scheuring, reveals whether the accident will be written into the show and if the mishap cost Purcell’s character Lincoln any scenes.
DEADLINE: How are you feeling?
PURCELL: Physically, I’m fine. The accident was shocking, more than anything else. I mean, it was a scene where I was running into the prison, and I felt this extraordinary explosion on my head that I’d never experienced. It wasn’t like someone was slowly cutting my arm kind of pain; it was this sudden explosion. I dropped to my knees, and I was in shock. It was like, what the f**k has just happened to me? And then I’m just leaning over and the blood is just pouring out like a shower, and my stunt guy came up beside me, and I looked at him and said, “Dude, what the f**k’s going on? What happened?” And he said, “Your head’s split right open, I can see your skull, your nose is on the other side of your face. I kind of just sat there for a moment in shock. I’m not being hyperbolic when I say this — I expected that I was either going to black out or die, because in my brain, when he said my skull was showing, I just assumed that my skull was cracked, and blood was going to go into my brain, and I was going to f**king die in Morocco. I thought I was going to die…
But after about three or four minutes, nothing happened. I didn’t have any concussion, didn’t have any symptoms at all, and I just stood up and said, “All right. Get me to a hospital.” The first hospital or clinic was closed; we’re in Ouarzazate (Morocco) — where American Sniper, and Black Hawk Down, and all these great films were made — which is in the middle of nowhere. The medical infrastructure isn’t the best, and they took me to another hospital. I walked in and there were cats walking in the hospital. Again, I was in shock, still, and I walked into this little surgery place, and a whole bunch of doctors were just arguing over who was gonna work on me, and there were blood stains on the sheet. I sat there and looked at everyone, and I just calmly got off this operating table and walked out of the hospital. And that’s when my girl, AnnaLynne, she just took control, poured alcohol on my head, and wrapped me up in gauze, and then Fox got a helicopter and they flew me out from Ouarzazate to Casablanca. Everything just lined up because this doctor—Doctor Bensouda—he is one of the best plastic surgeons there (in Casablanca), and also has clinics around the world. He looked at me and said, “Oh, wow! Lucky.” And then he put me under anesthetic, straightened my nose—re-broke it to straighten it again—and he said I have extra layers of skin around my skull, which actually prevented the fatal blow.
So physically, I’m one hundred percent. You wouldn’t believe it—you saw the pictures—I’m good to go. I actually start filming Prison Break on Monday.
DEADLINE: Where did that iron bar come from?
PURCELL: When you’re working in foreign countries, especially countries where language is a problem…I’m not going to comment on who’s responsible, but all I will say is the scene required me to run into a prison, which was a caged dome kind of thing, and I ran through and extras were coming my way, and one extra hit me—I smashed him, and he hit the fence, and I kept running, but all of the sudden, this iron bar, this thing just cracked my head.
DEADLINE: Was anyone else hurt?
PURCELL: No, it was just me. Lucky me.
DEADLINE: What more can you say about the scene you were shooting at the time?
It was just basically me running into this prison to look for my brother, Michael (Wentworth Miller). I can’t reveal too much of the plot, obviously, but there was a reason why I was running in, and a reason why all the guards were running out of the prison. Because basically, the regime in Yemen had collapsed, it was in complete chaos and turmoil, and the gates were open so all the prisoners were released. And I’m running in trying to get through and find Michael, and I can’t. But then the iron bar hit me on the head, and apparently, the whole cage then collapsed on me after I hit the ground. But I didn’t feel that.
DEADLINE: Will your scars from the accident be covered up or included in the show?
PURCELL: We’re jumping to episodes eight and nine, which we haven’t shot, and we’re going to play the injuries in it. They’ll just write something where Lincoln gets bashed in the head with an iron bar or something. No one expected me to recover so quickly. If you look at my face now, we can get away with it. My nose is still swollen up here and my eyes are still a bit swollen, I have bone fragments—because my nose was smashed on the side—that I’m getting taken care of at the end of the year. I’m going to go back to Casablanca, and the same doctor’s going to work on me again.
DEADLINE: Looking at you now, they could just as easily cover it all up.
PURCELL: Totally, and you wouldn’t notice, but I think it’s great for the show. I mean, Lincoln’s always got bruises—he’s always fighting and getting in scraps, so it just works perfectly with the character.
DEADLINE: How many days of filming did you miss?
We’ve been shooting in Vancouver and then we shot exteriors in Morocco, so we were in Morocco for about three weeks. What happened was, I had four more days of shooting left, and what they did was that they used my stuntee, who looks very similar to me, in wide shots in scenes, so when we get back to Vancouver, they’ll come in tight on me.
DEADLINE: Have you been written out of any scenes?
PURCELL: No. I’m in everything.
DEADLINE: Is this your first experience with an on-set injury?
PURCELL: Look, I grew up in Australia, I played rugby league for most of my life—I’ve broken legs, I’ve broken arms, I broke my nose when I was 15. Dislocated that, popped my ACL. I’m a physical guy. I love sport, I box; I’m kind of used to getting bashed around, but certainly nothing like this has happened. That kind of injury was something on another level.
DEADLINE: So no previous on-set injuries?
PURCELL: I popped the bone here (pointing to his shoulder).
DEADLINE: What more can you reveal about storylines of the Prison Break reboot and your character?
PURCELL: It’s tying into what’s going on in the world today with terrorism. The show is taking place in Yemen; we’re dealing with ISIS and ISA, and obviously we left off with Michael presumably dead. He wasn’t, he ended up working for this organization. It got to the point where he couldn’t do it anymore, and they threw him in a jail in Yemen to change his mind. He didn’t change his mind, they set him up…Paul Scheuring has written all of the nine episodes. Honestly, the fans are going to be blown away by this. It’s really a riveting, high-tension thriller. It’s an extraordinary, extraordinary show. I’ve seen the dailies of it, and it looks like a cross between Bourne Identity and American Sniper. It’s crazy. It’s really, really cool.
The new Prison Break is slated to premiere in the spring.