‘Legends of Tomorrow’: Dominic Purcell on Heat Wave and Playing the Show’s Most Reluctant Hero

     January 21, 2016

the-flash-wentworth-miller-dominic-purcell-sliceOn The CW series Legends of Tomorrow, Time Master Rip Hunter (Arthur Darvill) travels 150 years back into the past from2166, to assemble a carefully selected team of heroes and rogues that he hopes will be able to stop the immortal villain Vandal Savage (Casper Crump) and save the world from total chaos and destruction. If they’re ever going to succeed, billionaire inventor Ray Palmer (Brandon Routh), aka the Atom, Sara Lance (Caity Lotz), now known as the White Canary, professor Martin Stein (Victor Garber) and Jefferson Jackson (Franz Drameh), who together form the meta-human Firestorm, Leonard Snart (Wentworth Miller), aka Captain Cold, Mick Rory (Dominic Purcell), aka Heat Wave, and Kendra Saunders (Ciara Renée) and Carter Hall (Falk Hentschel), who are really Hawkgirl and Hawkman, must find common ground and a way to work together.

While at the TCA Press Tour, actor Dominic Purcell spoke to Collider for this exclusive interview about playing a character who always speaks the truth, why things just work so well between him and Wentworth Miller, why Mick Rory is so damaged, what he most likes about his character, what he thinks of the rest of the team, how he views Vandal Savage, tension between Mick Rory and Leonard Snart, and his character’s sense of humor.


Image via The CW

Collider:  This character must be an absolute blast to play!

DOMINIC PURCELL:  I don’t really know what’s going on, in terms of the reaction of this thing, because I’m just in the thick of doing my job. But Peter Roth, the head of Warner Bros., came up to me like a fanboy and said, “Oh, my god, I love Mick Rory! Every time I see him, I just laugh and laugh and laugh!” So, that’s a good start. People love him because he just speaks the truth. We love those kind of characters.

What does your own previous relationship with Wentworth Miller add to the dynamic between Mick Rory and Leonard Snart?

PURCELL:  We just know each other’s acting rhythms and personal rhythms so intricately. We know each other very well. He’s one of my closest friends. I consider him family. When we work opposite each other, it’s just there.

We’ve gotten to know Heat Wave a bit on The Flash, but we’ll really get to know him on Legends of Tomorrow. Has anything surprised you about who he is and what you’ve learned about his background?

PURCELL:  No, not yet. We have a history. His father was an abusive alcoholic and he got abandoned from an orphanage, so he hit the streets. That’s his personal history, and that’s going to damage any person.

Does Mick ever get jealous that Firestorm has the natural ability to do with fire what he has to have a weapon to do?

PURCELL:  Oh, yeah! He would love to do that shit. Fuck yeah! Absolutely! Somebody asked me how Mick Rory would survive without heat gun, if he had to go up against another superhero, and I said, “Mick Rory is a survivor. He’d work out a fucking way to survive.”


Image via The CW

Do you think that is what draws him to Sara Lance?

PURCELL:  Yeah, I sense that. There is certainly something there that he has for her. He doesn’t know what it is, but there’s something there. I think he respects the fact that a woman is taking charge. He likes that.

With this new team, will we see Mick wanting to work with people outside of Leonard Snart?

PURCELL:  I don’t know. I love the team. We did an episode where it was just Mick Rory and Ray Palmer, and I love working with Brandon [Routh]. We’re polar opposites in personalities. In real life, our psychologies are completely different. But, Mick Rory likes Ray.

Do you think Mick is surprised that he likes anyone on this team that he’s found himself a part of?

PURCELL:  Yeah, he is kind of surprised. He doesn’t really like anyone. But he wants off the ship. He doesn’t really want anything to do with the ship. He wants off. The only reason he joined was to go back in time and steal shit, and now he wants to fucking get off. He’s over it, and people are pissing him off. Everyone pisses Mick off.

Is it fun for Mick to see other people on this team also get angry sometimes?

PURCELL: Yeah, he appreciates like-minded fellows. Mick is a force of nature. He reacts instantly, on instinct. Everything is reactionary. There’s no filter. Everything is on an edge, all the time. He probably gets about an hour of sleep, every night. He’s just that guy.

legends-of-tomorrow-dominic-purcell-posterHow do you view Mick Rory? Do you see him as the hero of his own story, or do you see him as a villain?

PURCELL:  Yes, Mick is a killer, but at the same time, you want to see the humanity in him, as well. That’s the thing that draws people in. You don’t want to play it like Hannibal Lecter. People just aren’t interested in that. I would play it like that, if it was written like that, but it’s not written like that. Maybe I’m just speaking shit, but The Joker and Mick Rory would be friends, I would imagine. I could see those two sitting in a bar and talking shit. I could see that happen.

What does Mick think of Rip Hunter?

PURCELL:  He doesn’t like him. He hates him. He’s only on board because of Snart, to steal shit. He’s not interested in saving the world, or whatever. He doesn’t give a fuck about that shit. He just wants to steal shit.

Will he become attached enough to change his mind?

PURCELL:  Not yet. Not that I’ve seen. But, the dynamic between Snart and Rory will dramatically change. I can’t tell you why, but it’s changed.

Is that because their philosophies shift while they’re working with these people?

PURCELL:  Yes. Basically, Mick wants off, but for some reason, Snart is still hanging in there a bit more. Mick is like, “What the fuck are you doing?! Let’s get the fuck out of here and go back home.” And Snart is like, “No, we need to do this.” Mick is like, “What the fuck?!” That’s where it’s at.

What does Mick think of Vandal Savage?

PURCELL:  Anyone who’s a threat to Mick, he wants to take out. He sees Vandal as a threat. He doesn’t love all like-minded bad guys. He sees Vandal Savage as an asshole and he wants to kill him. Mick is a survivor. That’s one of the things I love about him most. He’s lived a really fucking hard life, and he says it like it is. It’s very similar to me.


Image via The CW

Do you enjoy getting to do such physical work?

PURCELL:  I do. It gets me into character. As an actor, I’m never out of the zone. I have gears, but I’m always around my character’s headspace.

Do you get Mick’s sense of humor?

PURCELL:  I’m indirectly funny. I’m not trying to be funny. People laugh at me because I’m so fucking serious all the time, and they find that hysterical. It’s the same with Mick. Obviously, that’s coming through in my performance.

Well, good luck with this show and have a great time with it!

PURCELL:  I’m so fucking stoked! I’ve been touched by an angel, really, at the end of the day. It’s going to be huge. The show is going to be a monster, but it has to be. People are so versed in this genre now that, if you’re going to put out a superhero show, it’s gotta be big, or go home. There’s another show on another network that I could talk about, which I won’t because it’s a dog when you compare it against what it’s supposed to be.

Legends of Tomorrow airs on Thursday nights on The CW.