WEST HOLLYWOOD, CA - SEPTEMBER 15:  Actress Jolene Purdy attends the Audi Celebrates The 68th Emmys at Catch LA on September 15, 2016 in West Hollywood, California.  (Photo by John Sciulli/Getty Images  for Audi)
Movies - TV
Jolene Purdy Almost Quit Acting Over Donnie Darko's Near-Kissing Scene
Played by Jolene Purdy, Cherita Chen is the less-than-popular and relentlessly bullied outcast that attends the same high school as Donnie in the 2001 film, "Donnie Darko." In an oral history for The Ringer, Purdy spoke on how filming a near-kissing scene with Jake Gyllenhaal nearly had her quit acting.
When Donnie and Cherita share an exchange in a school hallway, Donnie holds her head in his hands and tells her that "one day everything is going to be better for [her]." The scene’s intimacy suggests he's going to kiss her, which, even though Cherita may have a crush on Donnie, is terrifying to her in the moment.
Purdy herself was also nervous to film this emotional scene in real life, and although no actual kiss transpires between the two characters, the scene is still very intimate. She told The Ringer, "Up until that point, I had never been kissed. And so I just remember telling my mom, 'I can't do this. I give up. I'm done.'"
Fortunately, Purdy's mom gently reminded her that while she may want to quit, she was contractually obligated to do the scene. In the end, Cherita's part in "Donnie Darko" may feel minimal, but she truly is at the heart of the movie's message about empathy.