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Lena Talks “The Purge,” Nudity and Horror Movies

New interview by Vulture and you can read the full interview in the press archive.

In the near-future America of The Purge, one night a year is reserved for violent crime: For twelve hours, the state sanctions, and even encourages, otherwise illegal behavior, including murder, with no criminal consequences. The idea is that the rest of the year there would be less crime, though one of the outcomes is that the Purge results in more crime against the lower classes, who can’t afford to protect themselves. One family that can protect itself — theoretically — is headed by Lena Headey and Ethan Hawke, who has gotten rich from selling security systems to his resentful high-class neighbors. Their plan? Lock themselves indoors and wait it out while Purge participants rape, maim, and murder with glee. Of course, this being a movie, things never go according to plan — not when you’ve got an underage daughter with an overage boyfriend, a son who empathizes with the downtrodden, and neighbors who exclude you from their Purge plans.

Headey, who also plays the formidable Queen Regent on Game of Thrones and knows a thing or two about bloodlust, chatted with Vulture about purging violent emotions, a mother’s love, and why her son thinks she’s out fighting ninjas.

As a concept, do you think a “purge” could actually work?
I don’t think it should ever happen, no. It’s a fucking horrendous idea. But the concept is a many-levels concept. And as a horror-action idea, it’s kind of a great idea that’s based somewhat in reality. Does our culture have a need for violence? I don’t know. I guess it’s a personal thing. Some people fucking hate horror films, right? But I love them. I find Chainsaw to be a very relaxing film. [Laughs] For me, horror movies are a real escape. I don’t feel like I’m getting anything out, but my brain shuts down, [sigh of relief] and I can fall into this dark, you know, fantasy for a minute. I don’t get anything out of it. I just go, “Oh! That was nice.”

Do you feel like video games are a good release to purge or vent when you’re angry? You can let out any desire to hurt someone without actually hurting anyone.
Video games might be relaxing, too, but I don’t play them, so I don’t know. You can do that, or go to the gym. Punch a punching bag. I think I cry when I’m angry. I let it go that way. I’ll have a fucking rage, drink a little bit of wine, have a cigarette, get it out. Or I’ll have a good sob. Or I’ll meet up with friends and have a laugh. Watch a film to cry, like a cleanse. I never put one on thinking I’ll cry. You know the last thing I cried at, which I thought was a really beautiful movie, was The Perks of Being a Wallflower. I watched it on the plane, and when I got off the plane, it was like I had eaten a balloon or something. I just found it incredibly well done and moving and honest. That was the last thing I cried at involuntarily.

Source: Vulture (US)