Thrillers, horror and action films help audiences explore the darkest sides of our world in a safe manner—surrounded by friends and like-minded strangers up for a good scare. In Universal Pictures’ new suspense thriller The First Purge, it was critical to cast friends and foes that take us back to the very beginning—complex characters who run the gamut of emotions as they deal with pain, vengeance, love and compassion. They ask themselves “Should we Purge? Should we stop this madness? How hard do we fight to protect what we love?”
One of the first characters to catch on to exactly what his government is doing is Dmitri. An unlikely antihero who has made his hustle through dealing on the streets, Dmitri has long been suspicious of the New Founding Fathers of America (NFFA). Director Gerard McMurray sees Dmitri as, ultimately, a good man who loves his community, but someone who has been led down a path of crime. When he uses his specialized skills to protect those in his immediate neighborhood, he becomes a hero to his people. Sums McMurray: “He goes into this big apartment building where those who work for the government are just killing people and saves the day.”
Y’lan Noel of HBO’s Insecure was cast in this pivotal role. Bringing with him a fascinating mix of swagger, muscle and emotional depth, the actor portrays an unorthodox leader on Purge Night, to be sure. According to the director, he pays a lot of attention to the people who may have an opportunity to make better decisions than he was afforded.
Noel reflects on the complexities of his character, who is anything but a trite knight in shining armor: “Dmitri is a product of his environment. He is somebody who will finish a fight, but he’s not malicious. He also has a heart for the community, so there are a lot of things that he has to reconcile within his own mindset.”
The performer jumped at the chance to play the complex character, a man who Noel saw as a “natural born leader, but also a person who is a mixed bag, to be completely honest. The biggest of this process was defining how he could care about the community so much but at the same time play a role in harming it. It’s a tough contradiction to play, but there are people in the real world who are just like Dmitri.”
Dimitri is their ultimate protector, insisting that they stay with him on this insane night. He knows that their neighborhood is under siege, and he’s there to defend and fight back against this machine when they’re forced out into the streets by soldiers disguised as citizens. He would die for his people before he lets what they stand for be destroyed. As Noel reflects: “Tragedy has a very particular was of making somebody prioritize, realign their values and see things as they actually are. What they experience that night does that for Dmitri, and his decision to step up to the plate is inspired a lot by his loved ones.”
Now playing in Philippine cinemas, The First Purge is distributed by United International Pictures through Columbia Pictures. Follow us on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/uipmoviesph/
About The First Purge
Behind every tradition lies a revolution. This August, witness the rise of America’s 12 hours of annual lawlessness. Welcome to the movement that began as a simple experiment: The First Purge.
To push the crime rate below one percent for the rest of the year, the New Founding Fathers of America (NFFA) test a sociological theory that vents aggression for one night in one isolated community. But when the violence of oppressors meets the rage of the marginalized, the contagion will explode from the trial-city borders and spread across the nation.
Coming off the most successful film in the series, The Purge: Election Year, creator James DeMonaco (writer/director of The Purge, The Purge: Anarchy and The Purge: Election Year) returns alongside the producers of this worldwide phenomenon: Blumhouse Productions’ Jason Blum (Insidious series, Get Out, Split), Platinum Dunes partners Michael Bay, Brad Fuller and Andrew Form (Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles and Ouija series, The Texas Chainsaw Massacre), and DeMonaco’s longtime production partner, Sébastien K. Lemercier (Assault on Precinct 13, Four Lovers).
The First Purge is directed by Gerard McMurray (Burning Sands), working from a screenplay once again written by DeMonaco.