Since 2013, audiences have been transfixed by The Purge horror film franchise… and they’re about to get a whole lot more! Diving deeper into this dystopian future, USA’s The Purge will unveil more stories and characters from the world created by James DeMonaco. Ahead of tonight’s premiere, we spoke to Lili Simmons (aka Lila) and Hannah Emily Anderson (aka Jenna) about joining the cast of this adrenaline-pumping ten-episode series. Read our interview below, and be sure to catch the first episode of The Purge, tonight at 10/9c on USA Network. This is not a test. May God be with you all.      

How will the show expand on the world of The Purge that was created in the film franchise?

Hannah Emily Anderson: The show will give viewers a much more detailed look at a variety of characters, and follow them throughout their Purge journey. We’ll get into the history of each character and catch a glimpse of a world outside The Purge.

Lili Simmons: Yes, absolutely! So there’s definitely more character development. You’ll get to know each and every one of us at a much deeper level than in the feature films. You’ll come to realize that in actually no one is “good” or “bad.” I think there will be something to love about each character, and we’re giving viewers a chance to see that.

What initially drew you to this project? Were you a fan of the films?

LS: I was already a fan of the movies—the political message is strong. I also saw a lot of myself in the part of Lila. I could relate to her good qualities, and her effortless sex appeal.

HEA: I was not aware of The Purge films because the horror genre terrifies me! But reading the pilot episode really excited me. The concept of the show is brilliant because it’s teetering right on the edge of reality and fantasy, and just a little too close for comfort. I was eventually brave enough to watch all the films, and I became totally engrossed in the world of The Purge.

The subject matter and energy of the show is quite dark—what was the vibe like on set? There must have been much needed moments of levity between takes?

HEA: I feel like we were laughing most of the time to make up for all the screaming and crying. There were times we’d catch
the “after lunch giggles,” and we’d have trouble getting through a take without cracking up. But everyone was very respectful when we really had to get into those darker scenes and emotions.

LS: Yeah, the vibe on set would feel somewhat morose at times. I was definitely lucky to have such wonderful cast mates who I now call dear friends!

This is some nightmare-inducing stuff! Were you able to shed the intensity of the show after a long day of shooting, or did The Purge seep into your subconsciousness and lead to restless nights?

LS: I actually did have nights where I felt a little depressed, and definitely had a few nightmares. I’m sure we all did! But our cast was great—we’d hang out after filming and on the weekends—and just do happy and fun things!

HEA: I have a very vivid imagination, so getting a full night of uninterrupted sleep has been a challenge since starting The Purge. I honestly found myself checking my closets at night, and I was easily startled by any sound. I’ve been watching movie blooper reels, Queer Eye, Glow, and all the adorable puppy and kitten videos I can find to remedy this.

Is there an overarching message you hope viewers come away with after watching the show?

LS: In the world of The Purge people have become so detached from humanity they truly believe that killing and violence is the answer. I think the overall message is not to let yourself lose compassion for one another. Don’t fight violence with more violence. Don’t let politics skew your vision of peace.

HEA: Yes, ultimately our show exists to thrill and entertain, but it’s hard to ignore the real life political/social parallels of classism and violence in America. I hope The Purge challenges viewers to question their own belief system, and the rules that are currently in place.