Interviews

Dominic Purcell Offers Tough Guy Approved Pro Tips

This Australian actor keeps his edge onscreen with weight training, surfing, and the occasional lager.

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Dominic Purcell
FOX via Getty Images

Dominic Purcell has always been pretty damn muscular, and this past summer, that might have saved his life. The Australian actor was in Morocco shooting a scene for the new season of Prison Break when a massive iron bar fell 20 feet and landed on his head. “Blood was pouring everywhere,” recalls Purcell. “I felt a pain I can’t put into words. It was more of a shock.

The stunt guy came running over and was freaking out. He said, ‘Your scalp is split in three places. I can see your skull.’ I saw this shadow off of my cheek. I said, ‘What’s that?’ He said, ‘That’s your nose.’ I thought I was going to die. It was kind of hilarious. I was like, ‘Wow, this is how it ends? In Morocco? How fucking weird is that?’” Purcell was rushed to a hospital and treated for his injuries—which included a broken nose in three spots. “The doctor told me that most people would have died or broken their neck, but I didn’t because of all the muscle in my neck and back from years of rugby, surfing, and training,” says Purcell. Near-death experiences aside, Purcell has enjoyed reviving Lincoln Burrows, a character he played for four seasons and 81 episodes from 2005–2009. “It’s a joy,” admits Purcell.

“That Lincoln Burrows role is close to my heart. Slipping back into it wasn’t a problem at all.” Of course, Purcell wouldn’t have gotten the role in the first place if it weren’t for his distinct look—he’s 6'2" and can pull off badass or pissed off with ease. (Purcell admits he has a resting bitch face. “I’ll be thinking happy thoughts and I’ll still look pissed,” he says. “People will ask, ‘What’s wrong?’ I’m like, ‘Nothing, I’m thinking about surfing.’”)

Purcell maintains his strong appearance through plenty of physical activity and a healthy diet. When he’s away from his Los Angeles home filming Prison Break or other projects like Legends of Tomorrow (which coincidentally teamed Purcell up with Prison Break co-star Wentworth Miller), Purcell is in the hotel gym doing 40 minutes of high-intensity training five days a week. “When I was younger I loved doing the big compound movements, like squats,” says Purcell. “Doing them feels great and increases your testosterone. I love it. But I’m 47 now, and my lower back is a mess.

I still feel like I’m 30, but my training has changed in that I don’t lift as heavy.” When he’s back in L.A., he likes to surf as much as he can. “It’s my therapy couch,” explains Purcell. “It’s my way to escape.” On the food side, Purcell practices a variation of the Warrior Diet—which relies on controlled fasting and having your food intake consist primarily of one big meal a day. He starts with coffee at 6 a.m. Then after hitting the gym, he’ll graze on fruits, nuts, and a non-sugary protein shake or Bulletproof Coffee. At night, he’ll have his big meal, which usually consists of fish and salad.

For dessert, he likes to down a couple of beers—but not Foster’s. “No, mate, that’s bullshit,” he says. “I like Stella.”

Where Have I Seen You?

Purcell’s big break happened when a casting agent saw him in the waiting room of an agency and hired him for a cigarette commercial. He later went on to star in these fine projects.

Prison Break

As Lincoln Burrows, a man wrongly accused of murder.

Legends Of Tomorrow

As comic-book villain Mick Rory (aka Heat Wave).

Killer Elite

Gained 45 pounds to play a mercenary alongside fellow badass Robert De Niro.

Blade: Trinity

As a vampire opposite Ryan Reynolds and Wesley Snipes.

Yoplait Commercials

Sampling yogurt and deadpanning it to hilarious effect.

Watch The new season of Prison Break airs Tuesdays at 9 p.m. EST on Fox.

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