Jolene Purdy will probably be known best for her performances in cult favorite Donnie Darko and Netflix’s Orange is the New Black. But she makes a strong case for many more feature film roles in Unseen, director Yoko Okumura’s new survival thriller in which a depressed gas station store clerk must use her cell phone to help a nearly-blind woman flee her murderous ex-boyfriend.
Purdy takes on the role of Sam, who is already not having a good day behind the store register when she mistakenly connects over the phone with Emily, who has been kidnapped by her former lover in a remote cabin in the woods. While the film is mainly about the chase, it’s also about two women at different places in their lives as they learn to rely on one another through this traumatic experience.
With Unseen hitting digital outlets this week, I had the chance to talk with Purdy about her role in the film, finding chemistry with co-star Midori Francis despite their characters never sharing the screen, and connecting to the character of Sam. We also talked about director Okumura and what it means to have a genre film such as this led completely by Asian-American women. Finally, we had a laugh discussing Purdy’s scenes with Missi Pyle, who plays an insane, gun-toting “Karen” who just won’t leave Sam alone.
Unseen is available digitally now, followed by MGM+ this May.