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2 September 2008   Comments Off on Went On “Prison Break’s” New Season

Even though some of the storylines have been a bit far-fetched over the seasons, the strength of the Fox television series Prison Break comes from its highly talented actors, namely series star Wentworth Miller. The British-born, Brooklyn-raised star is a self-proclaimed workaholic, who likes to just veg out on the couch, when he’s not devoting his time to thinking about his character, Michael Scofield.

To catch you up, after successfully breaking his older brother, Lincoln Burrows (Dominic Purcell), out of Fox River Penitentiary for a murder he did not commit (Season One), Michael, Lincoln and several other convicts were the targets of a nationwide manhunt that eventually led them to tropical Panama (Season Two). Despite Lincoln’s exoneration for his alleged crimes, the brothers’ freedom and happiness were short-lived as Michael was framed and sent to Sona Prison by “The Company” (Season Three), the same government conspiracy that originally put Lincoln behind bars. Now out for blood, Season Four will see Michael and Lincoln teamed up with Michael’s true love, the not-really-dead Sara Tancredi (Sarah Wayne Callies), fellow Fox River escapee Fernando Sucre (Amaury Nolasco), renegade FBI Agent Alex Mahone (William Fichtner) and former Fox River prison-guard-turned-hapless-bounty-hunter Brad Bellick (Wade Williams), to take down The Company, once and for all.

Wentworth recently spoke to MediaBlvd Magazine about what he thinks of his character, working in Los Angeles this season, and that pesky full-body tattoo.

MediaBlvd Magazine: In the new season, you guys are out of prison and you’re working for the F.B.I., but you have to do what they say or they will put you back in prison?
Wentworth Miller The 4th season of Prison Break is about Michael and Lincoln, standing and taking on The Company, taking on the conspiracy, and being pro-active in a way that we haven’t seen them be before, but that’s not to say they aren’t still under the gun. It is still life and death. It’s more of the same, and yet reinvented, at the same time.

MediaBlvd: This season looks almost like an Ocean’s Eleven type of thing. How would you describe the feel of the show this time around?
Wentworth It’s feeling a little bit lighter and a little bit more like a caper. My joke on set is that it’s the A-Team 2008. We have a bunch of different individuals, and some of them love each other, some of them hate each other, and everyone’s got their separate, but very important, skill set that they’re bringing to the table. Only together can they actually achieve what it is that they’ve set out to achieve, which has actually been our formula from the beginning — seven guys in a room, all of whom are at odds with competing agendas, but we have to work together to achieve our goals.

MediaBlvd: Who are the new cast additions this season?
Wentworth We have Michael Rapaport, playing Agent Don Self. He’s the “Charlie” to our “Angels,” if you will. James Liao plays a character named Roland, who is part of our A-Team. And, Cress Williams, plays a character named Wyatt, who is something of a deadly assassin, tracking down the brothers, Mahone and Sara. We see the return of some old favorites, like Padman/the General, in particular, who is the head of the company conspiracy and whom we’ve seen flashes of for the last couple of seasons. We’ll be seeing a lot more of him, this time around. I dearly hope that he and Michael come face-to-face, at some point.

MediaBlvd: How is the addition of Michael Rapaport working out?
Wentworth Michael is great. He oozes character. There’s character to spare, where he’s concerned. His role is a pivotal one this season because he is the upper boss, in effect. He is sympathetic, and yet there is supposed to be something a little bit off about him. That comes to a head, later in the season, and he pulls that off, beautifully.

MediaBlvd: In each of the seasons, the show has pretty much re-booted its premise, to some degree. As an actor, what are the advantages and disadvantages of doing a show that, from one season to the next, can be something completely different?
Wentworth It keeps it interesting. Most other TV shows are in the habit of figuring out their winning formula and then beating it into the ground, whereas we take what we already know works and toss it out the window, at the start of every season, which I think is very bold and ambitious, and it certainly provides a new playground for the actors. That said, I’ve been more comfortable with some seasons than others. My favorites, so far, have been Season One and Season Three because my character works best behind bars with very real, physical, deadly obstacles to surmount. The second season was a total change of pace and a real downshift for me, and was one of my least favorite seasons because it felt as though my character was literally and figuratively riding shotgun. He was much more reactive than active. That can be frustrating. But, it’s most important for a show that’s done 67 episodes, at this point, to keep it as fresh and as exciting for the actors as possible.

MediaBlvd: Are you happy with the way that Michael has developed, and the changes over the four seasons?
Wentworth I have mixed feelings about my character’s progression. I was very clear, early on, that he had a very specific role. I feel like Michael is constantly explaining things to the audience, like “This is what just happened. This is what’s happening now. This is what’s about to happen.” He is very much the engineer, both as his profession and in terms of his role in this universe. It’s his job to keep Prison Break on its axis. So, there have been times when I’ve seen the stuff that T-Bag (Robert Knepper), Bellick or Mahone gets up to and I think, “God, it would be really fun to chew the scenery just a little bit more!” At the same time, you can’t have a character like Michael without a character like T-Bag, and you can’t have a character like T-Bag, without a character like Michael. They balance each other.

MediaBlvd: What brings out the best in Michael’s character this season?
Wentworth It’s finally time to take on the puppet master. At this point, we’ve battled many serious adversaries, like Gretchen B. (Jodi Lyn O’Keefe) and Agent Kellerman (Paul Adelstein). In Season Two, Michael had that great face-to-face with the President of the United States, and you really thought that was going to be the end of the journey. It turns out someone else was pulling the strings. In many ways, they had to go back to square one. What Michael, Lincoln and Sara realize is that they can no longer flee. It’s time to stand and fight, and really put this whole conspiracy thing to bed, if possible.

MediaBlvd What personality trait do you like most about Michael?
Wentworth His sense of loyalty. At the start of Season Three, I told the writers, “Please do not make this about Michael fighting to survive because Michael’s not particularly interested in his own survival.” Michael is interested in self-sacrifice. Michael has a touch of the martyr about him, and he’s only motivated to act aggressively when other people’s lives are on the line, and when those that he loves have guns to their heads.

MediaBlvd: How will the relationship between Lincoln and Michael evolve this season?
Wentworth There’s been a lot of push-pull between these characters, and a lot of swinging of the pendulum, where the little brother is suddenly the big brother. This season is about settling their mutual debts. At the top of the season, we see Lincoln in Panama. He has a potential love interest. He’s reunited with his son, for the first time. It’s possible that he can make a life for himself. But, he knows that his brother, who sacrificed everything so that he could go free in Season One, is back in the States on this revenge quest. Out of allegiance and a sense of indebtedness, Lincoln follows his brother to the States, so that they can stand together and take on The Company. But, when all is said and done, the brothers will be able to part as equals.

MediaBlvd: How is Michael and Mahone’s relationship going to change?
Wentworth In a strange way, I feel like they resolved their issues throughout the course of Season Three because they did, in fact, have to work together. Mahone is still the man who killed Michael’s father, but in a way, Mahone is the latest in a series of surrogate fathers for Michael. The first season, we had the character of Westmoreland (Muse Watson). We also had the Warden (Stacy Keach). And, Mahone is a reflection, whether Michael realizes it or not, of what he could one day be. If he continues to walk down this very dark road, Michael might wind up very much like the man that Mahone is today, which is someone who started out as a good man doing good things, then became a good man doing questionable things, and then became a questionable man doing evil things.

MediaBlvd: Sarah was killed in the middle of Season Three, but now she’s back. What was it like to find out that she’d be returning?
Wentworth It was difficult to say goodbye, and it was a happy day when I found out that she was returning. There are a lot of chefs in this particular kitchen, so to say that one person was responsible for whatever decision was made, when it was made, would be false. I will say that Sarah is a model of grace and integrity, and behaved as one would hope, throughout the whole situation. She came back because there was such overwhelming fan support for Michael and Sarah. There was a real outcry when her character disappeared. At the end of the day, it’s all about making the fans happy.

MediaBlvd: At what point did you guys realize that Sarah Wayne Callies might be coming back?
Wentworth At some point during the writer’s strike, I started hearing rumors that Sarah was returning. The fans were organizing write-ins and petitions, which is emblematic of where we are, in terms of television and the media. It’s very much a back and forth conversation between the fans and the writers, and between the writers and the powers that be. Their opinions, especially when expressed online or via correspondence, are important and are taken into consideration.

MediaBlvd: Your writers are pretty fantastic, but reattaching someone’s head is a tall order. How will that be addressed?
Wentworth We address it as plausibly as possible. It helps that the show is kind of fantastic, and I feel like we’ve gotten away with worse. But at the same time, we do provide an explanation and we don’t tease the audience. It’s not a flash of Sara’s ponytail, disappearing down an ally for the first episodes, with everyone wondering when she’ll actually make a face-to-face with Michael. She’s back in the first episode. Michael and Sara are reunited, and then the gang hits the ground running because there’s work to do.

MediaBlvd: Was the first scene where Michael reunites with Sara everything you hoped it would be?
Wentworth Absolutely! I was just happy to see Sarah back. I really felt her absence in Season Three. I felt that her return was important, not only to my character, but also to the show in general. What can I say? The fans have spoken. Sara returns.

MediaBlvd: Now that Sara is returning, is there a chance that C-Note (Rockmond Dunbar) might come back again?
Wentworth C-Note is the one character in Prison Break who got a happy ending. I wouldn’t be surprised, if he came back, at some point. We do love the unexpected twists and turns on this show, and I think Rockmond would be a great addition. I always thought that his contribution to the show was a very cool one. But, I can’t say for sure.

MediaBlvd: Throughout the series, you’ve had a lot of characters come and go. If you could bring back one character, who would it be and why?
Wentworth I’d bring back Paul Adelstein. He was a fantastic Agent Kellerman, and he was symbolic of the kind of character that the show does best, which is someone living within the shades of gray — not entirely black, not entirely white, not entirely good, not entirely evil, but someone who is as complicated as we all are, in real life. Paul really did a beautiful job of defining a character, who could be vicious one minute and entirely sympathetic the next. He’s very much missed.

MediaBlvd: With Season Four shooting in L.A., are you happy to be there?
Wentworth I am. We’re working on the Fox lot, and we’re also taking as much advantage as we can of Los Angeles, in terms of the very schizophrenic terrain. You’ve got the ocean, you’ve got downtown, you’ve got the mountains, you’ve got the desert. Our environment and our backdrop, has always been critical to the show’s look and success. Our number one priority is to keep that going in the 4th season.

MediaBlvd: With the move back to L.A., do you notice the paparazzi more?
Wentworth For the first episode, yes. And then, I guess they got bored, which is fine with us.

MediaBlvd: Do you ever have women follow you down the street in L.A.?
Wentworth Very recently, I had a fan who was waiting for me at this particular coffee shop that I go to pretty frequently. She had a queen size pillow for me because she heard somewhere that I like naps and she wanted me to have a comfortable place to rest my head. And, she had a big ring of skeleton keys, which she said was so that, if Michael gets himself into another jam, he’d have a way out. And then, she finished off with a pair of handcuffs. So, cut to me walking down the street with a pillow, skeleton keys and handcuffs, and then cue the paparazzi. Those pictures are actually out there somewhere.

MediaBlvd: Did that freak you out?
Wentworth It was certainly a surprise, but it was very sweet. Obviously, someone put a lot of time, thought and preparation into that kind of gift. To know that someone’s making that kind of room for you in their lives is priceless.

MediaBlvd: Are you involved with the development of your character, or do you just learn the lines that you’re given in the script?
Wentworth At this point, it’s safe to say that Prison Break is very much a collaborative process. That grew out of us being separated from the writers for the first, second and third seasons. They were in Los Angeles, in their little air conditioned room, and we were behind bars at Joliet Prison, sweating it out. The writers have a lot to think about. This is a very complicated show. There are a lot of balls that they have to keep in the air. Sometimes what they have crafted on the page, once you put it on it’s feet, doesn’t quite work the way you know it needs to work, so the cast has all taken a serious degree of ownership in the execution of this show. We’ve come far enough, and the writers trust us enough, that the actors have really become the watchdogs. I now see the scenes as a blueprint and, within that, I’m allowed to color my character, pretty much as I see fit.

MediaBlvd: Did you have any say in having the tattoo lasered off of Michael? Isn’t it possible that, somewhere along the way, somebody is going to slap Michael on the back and you’ll just scream in agony because of what you went through to have the tattoo removed?
Wentworth The good news is that characters on Prison Break tend to heal very, very quickly. It’s quite possible to be shot in one scene, and be sprinting across a cornfield the very next. The precedent has been established. But, I did have my concerns about the tattoo. It was a laborious process, putting that thing on, throughout Season One and parts of Season Two. It was a fan favorite the first season, but then Michael escaped and his mission was accomplished. Suddenly, it was just something that had to be worn rather than something that could be used as a plot device. That resulted in me, in Dallas in 120 degree heat, wearing long sleeve shirts because we were still pretending that Michael had the damn thing on. I was interested in addressing that. I knew it was this open-ended question. The fans were wondering when it would come back and how it would come back, and I knew that it probably wouldn’t really fit into the plot, at this point. So, I went to the writers and said, “How can we really address this issue in a way that feels satisfying and give some closure to people who were constantly on the look out for it?” I am looking forward to getting to roll my sleeves up.

MediaBlvd: Do you get to do the stunts yourself?
Wentworth One of the best parts is that we get to execute 90% of the stunts ourselves. It’s always in the safest, most rehearsed environment. To be hoisted up on a rope, attached to a helicopter and dangled above the prison yard, like we were in Season Three, is a thrill. It’s one of the reasons I got into this business to begin with.

MediaBlvd: Are there ever any injuries?
Wentworth We all get scrapes, pulled shoulders, bruises and bloody noses, but that’s just the small price you pay.

MediaBlvd: In the off season, do you keep up with the training, so that you stay in good shape?
Wentworth Not particularly. Prison Break keeps me so active that I collapse, once the season’s over. I just look forward to sitting on my couch, and maybe take an occasional hike, but that’s pretty much it. I’m not very ambitious. I’d rather sit on the couch, watching episodes of The Closer, back to back.

MediaBlvd: Was your character’s hairstyle imposed on you, or was it your choice?
Wentworth No, I actually had this hairstyle before I was cast in the part. And then, they made Dominic shave his head. I’m glad they did because it really goes a long way toward selling these two characters as brothers.

MediaBlvd: The moment that you’re no longer on the show, are you going to grow out?
Wentworth We’ll see. I kind of like it this short. It’s pretty low-maintenance. The good news is, if I ever had any concerns about being typecast as Michael Scofield, only identified with this character forever after because the shaved head is such an iconic part of the character, distancing myself from it might be easier than it might be otherwise. All I’d have to do is let my hair grow out.

MediaBlvd: Do you watch your own show?
Wentworth I haven’t seen the show in awhile, but I do sometimes. I get so close to it, so wrapped up in it, that it’s all I’m thinking about 24/7, so I force myself to take breaks from it to look for other things. It’s very important, creatively, to have several different pots on the stove, as opposed to just that one.
MediaBlvd: Do you feel like you have to fight to come back, every season?
Wentworth It’s never been something that I’ve been too concerned with. My attitude toward my professional life is committed, but not attached. I give it 110% and, if it doesn’t work out, or if it comes to an end, then I walk away and I think about the next project. I’m not concerned about Prison Break going off the air. It’s never been something that’s kept me up at night. In the first season, we were averaging maybe nine or 10 million viewers. Now, we average maybe six or seven million. That missing three or four million is watching us on Tivo. Our audience has simply gone to other places, which I think is the experience for a lot of TV shows.

MediaBlvd: Do you see Prison Break becoming a feature film or TV movie, like 24 did in South Africa?
Wentworth I don’t think so, unless it was some sort of epilogue, where we picked up with these characters in five years. The story, the plot and the characters are so complex and multi-layered that I don’t think we could do justice to it in a two-hour movie.

MediaBlvd: Do you feel like it’s time for you to make the transition to film?
Wentworth I’m not someone who believes that TV is a stepping stone to the world of feature film. That kind of bias was once quite prevalent, but for me, doing the show is enough. If the show ends, and I don’t have a big feature film career, that’s fine with me. If I go on and do another TV show or some theater, that will also be fine. As long as I get paid to do what I love, I’ll consider myself to be a success.

MediaBlvd: What have you liked best about getting to travel overseas to promote the show?
Wentworth As appreciative as we are of our American audiences, it’s the international support for the show that really keeps us on very solid footing. We’re one of the number one shows in France. Our DVD is number one in Japan. To have that kind of international appeal and support, means a great deal to us. If I do want some kind of feature film career, post-Prison Break, your name being recognizable in these various foreign territories is what helps get you cast in certain movies. The fact that I’ve been on the air for four years in South Africa will help my cause here in the States.

MediaBlvd: Do you have any time for yourself, to visit a museum or go see a show, while you’re in these other countries?
Wentworth I made a point of it, during this last tour to Israel, France, Sweden, Italy and Germany. For every day of press, I would also have a day spent touring museums and historical sites.

MediaBlvd: Your career really went from 0 to 60 with this show, and now you’re followed by paparazzi. Has that been a big trade-off for you, with your life not being private anymore?
Wentworth Everything’s changed and nothing’s changed, at the same time. I try to be very careful with questions about the price of fame because, no matter how valid what you’re saying is, you still come off sounding like a spoiled brat. It’s a necessary trade-off, I suppose. TV is a very powerful medium. It’s only natural that people are going to be curious about what you’re up to, when you’re not on their screens. One of the advantages of shooting in Chicago, and then Dallas, was that we were very much off the radar. We focused on the task at hand, without being distracted by what I see as the unnecessary fireworks that go along with this business.

MediaBlvd: You seem to keep your distance with fame and success. Could you easily let go of the business, move on and do something else?
Wentworth I enjoy acting, tremendously. I can’t think of anything else that gives me that kind of buzz. But, I believe that the future hopefully holds other things for me, like writing, directing and producing. That’s still within the context of the business. But, who’s to say? I have no idea what tomorrow will bring.

MediaBlvd: What do you do in your downtime?
Wentworth My downtime is spent obsessing about the show. I am, and have always been, a workaholic and a perfectionist. Sometimes I force myself to take these little sabbaticals and go for cross-country trips, or just veg on my couch. I try to keep it as low-key as possible.

MediaBlvd: Your role is consistently so intense. How do you balance that out on your hiatus, or your other jobs outside of “Prison Break”? Are you always looking for something lighter, or is this the kind of thing that you love doing?
Wentworth I have loved doing this show. Once Prison Break comes to an end, I’m not going to jump into the next Bourne Supremacy franchise, though I should be so lucky. It is important to balance out the intensity of the work that we do with some humor, and we try to keep the mood on the set as light as possible. I’ve also become a big fan of the Family Guy, American Dad, Reno 911, and the British and American versions of The Office just because, at the end of the day, after shooting all these scenes where I literally have a gun pointed at my head, it’s important to come home and unwind with something that is the polar opposite of where you’ve just come from. As far as projects, post-Prison Break, I’d love to be involved in a romantic comedy or something, and really change it up, if possible.

MediaBlvd: Do you think it’s possible for Michael Scofield to be happy? Is he worthy of redemption?
Wentworth The interesting wrinkle that Sara’s return signifies is that, when Michael thought she was dead, he crossed certain lines that he might not otherwise have crossed. At the end of Season Three, he was actively involved in arranging the death of another inmate. So, when Sara suddenly reappears, Michael is very much a changed man, perhaps one that she doesn’t recognize, and perhaps one that’s not really worthy of their relationship. Michael is still a good man, but at this point, it would take something quite extreme for him to really even the score. In order for his brother to go free, so many people have died in the process, and I think that weighs terribly on Michael’s conscience. Once this experience is over, and once they successfully destroy the conspiracy, there is no returning to his white collar existence as a structural engineer. The only thing that Michael is fit for, at this point, is a hired gun, which actually dovetails quite nicely with the direction he takes.

MediaBlvd: There has been some talk lately that maybe the series will end with Michael actually dying, in a Greek tragedy way. Is that something you’d be comfortable with?
Wentworth Maybe, if it came to that. There’s definitely a price to be paid for this little adventure. Michael’s hands are pretty fifthly, at this point in the series. It’s become harder and harder to tell the good guys from the bad guys and the question becomes, can there be any sort of redemption for Michael? What would that look like? What would that take? Perhaps laying down his life, so that someone else can live, might be one answer to that question.

MediaBlvd: Is there any talk on the horizon about when the show will end?
Wentworth It’s not CSI. It’s not Law & Order. It can’t run forever. I do feel as though we may be on one of our final laps around the track. It is something that weighs on my mind, from time to time. Telling a story correctly necessitates knowing when to end it. At this point in the series, Michael and Lincoln, between them, have intentionally or unintentionally killed so many people, and yet they’re still running around with T-Bag. It’s really a testament to Robert Knepper that his character has survived through four whole seasons, but the man is a maniac, a psychopath, a child killer and a rapist, and yet he and the boys are still digging ditches together. Eventually, you have to wonder when enough is enough because it really makes my character look bad. These are the questions that we eventually have to answer, or else suffer a fall off, in terms of believability and quality. But, we’re taking things to a whole new level in Season Four. Fasten your seatbelts!

Source: http://www.mediablvd.com

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