Ella Purnell On SHOWTIME's 'Yellowjackets': 'Going To Be Dark, Going To Be Twisted'
(ViacomCBS) - SHOWTIME welcomes a new comer to its Sunday night lineup on November 14th with the premiere of Yellowjackets. This coming-of-age/survival epic/psychological horror tells the story of a talented high school girls' soccer team who is involved in a plane crash and forced to survive on their own in the wilderness. Throughout Yellowjackets viewers will watch as this once unified team devolves into separate savage clans fighting for survival while also tracking the fall out from those events 25 years later.
CBS' Matt Weiss spoke to Ella Purnell who plays the teen version of Jackie, the Yellowjackets popular captain ahead of Sunday night's premiere.
MW: Ella, good to see you today, Yellowjackets is coming to SHOWTIME this Sunday, November 14th at 10pm. I'm seeing a lot of hype about this show and the trailer is electric but I'm curious from your perspective, what made you want to be a part of the show?
EP: For me, it was a no brainer. I knew it was going to be dark, I knew it was going to be twisted. I've been really trying to play with different genres and at that time I really wanted to do something gory and gritty and explore the edges of my acting parameters. This show definitely does all that.
MW: And now you've had to wait all this time to put it out after being casted about two years ago. How good does it feel that it's finally almost here?
EP: It's crazy. Here's how it went; we shot the pilot, we took like a year and a half off in COVID and then we went to Canada and shot the whole season in six months. We were in this super intense immersive bubble. We wrapped three weeks ago and now I'm doing a press junket. It's been crazy.
MW: So you're from England and you had to go to Canada to play an American.
EP: [Laughs] Yea, I guess I did.
MW: And your character's name is Jackie so why don't you introduce us to who she is...
EP: Yeah, so I play Jackie Taylor, she is the captain of the soccer team who was also the stereotypical sort of Queen Bee, popular girl. However you want to think of it, she has it all. She has the privilege as a very rich, sort of upper class background. She has the boyfriend, she has the height, she's gotten college acceptance letters and her university plan.
She has it all figured out until they get thrown into the wilderness where her world just completely crumbles and falls apart. She loses all of her footing because when you take away the social constructs and the hierarchy that exists in high school, which we all know is a bubble, and you throw them into the wilderness she doesn't know how to be.
She doesn't know how to gain respect, she doesn't know how to have influence and power and sway which is not something that she ever experienced before. On top of that her relationship with her best friend of 15 years or 10 years is falling apart and it all really pushes her over the edge.
MW: Jackie is a star soccer player, you're from England, do you have any soccer in your background growing up?
EP: Not at all that is not my thing. It was hilarious trying to kick a ball around with a bunch of equally non-athletic women. If you had been there you would have seen us all just sort of crashing into each other.
I'm glad you brought that up because no one's asked me this yet but we had to do a couple weeks of soccer training for the pilot. It was absolutely hilarious. Just a lot of really bad coordination and I mean there was some of us that really struggled. Luckily I didn't have to do all that much.
MW: Well if the soccer ability wasn't there the acting prowess certainly was. This show has a great group of actors, what was it like working with everyone?
EP: It's incredible. I know that on every job everybody always says, Oh, we're like a family. This time I really mean it. We just went through so much together. Like I mentioned, it was a really immersive experience. We were stuck in Vancouver for six months and we couldn't leave the country and we were really homesick.
We went from isolating in quarantine on our own to just suddenly being surrounded by this really large cast and this super intense experience. We went through a lot together. We also we've seen each other cry and scream, fight and grapple and it shows. We spent all our time together, we hang out all the time, the group chats buzzing. These are my really, really good friends for life I think.
MW: So all that being said on November 14th, when the first episode drops, how are you going to be watching it?
EP: On tv!
MW: No big plans for the premiere?!
EP: I can't see my family because they're back in London. Maybe I'll throw a little get together for the cast since a lot of us are in LA. That'll be a cute idea. That'll be fun.
MW: All right, you're welcome for the inspiration.
EP: [Laughs ]Thank you for that, Matt Weiss.
MW: Anytime. Thank you so much for the time today Ella and all the best moving forward!
EP: Thank you so much.
Yellowjackets premiere Sunday, November 14th at 10:00PM ET/PT on SHOWTIME. Check your local listings for more information.
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