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SDCC 2016: ‘Prison Break’ Star Sarah Wayne Callies Says “I Have Such a Huge Amount of Gratitude For This Show”

Nora Dominick ’17/ Emertainment Monthly Co-Executive Stage Editor

It has been seven years since the fan-favorite FOX drama, Prison Break, ended its original run, but not a day goes by that fans don’t miss Michael Scofield (Wentworth Miller), Lincoln Burrows (Dominic Purcell), Sara Tancredi (Sarah Wayne Callies) and the whole gang.  Earlier this year, FOX announced that they would be bringing the fan-favorite TV show Prison Break back for nine episodes.

Prison Break follows Michael Scofield (Miller) as he tries to break his brother, Lincoln Burrows (Purcell) out of prison when he is sentenced to death for a crime he didn’t commit. Michael devises an elaborate plan to help Lincoln escape prison by getting incarcerated himself and breaking him out from the inside. Little do the brothers know that breaking out is just the beginning.

At SDCC 2016, Prison Break star Sarah Wayne Callies chats about the huge amount of gratitude she has for the show, what it’s like bringing Sara back and much more!

Check out the full interview with Sarah Wayne Callies below!

How was it diving back into the character of Sara after all these years?

Sarah Wayne Callies: It was an interesting process. I started archivally. I rewatched seasons 1, 2 and most of 4. I went back to my notes. I went back to old scripts and everything I had written on it. Then I realized it’s seven years later and things change a lot in seven years in a persons life.

When we left Sara she was neither a wife nor a mother and she’s been both of those things for every minute of the seven years since we’ve seen her. So, at a certain point I really wanted to let her change and make sure that she was a different woman because she has to be and I am. I’m a different person than I was seven years ago, hopefully I’m a better actor. Hopefully I can improve on things a little bit.

Can you talk about where Sara is when we meet her this time around?

Sarah Wayne Callies: Well, I think the short version of the last seven years of her life is that she went down a very, very dark hole of grieving. I think it’s a hole she probably wouldn’t have come out of except she had a son. I think at a certain point she realized her grief was a luxury her son could not afford. So, she pulled herself together and decided to raise the sh*t out of him. She decided that her devotion to her dead husband would be manifested by the love she poured into her son. Part of that included trying to give him a stable home.

So, she’s re-married. I think the way with re-marriages after a death of a spouse often happen, it’s not like this is the love of her life. This is a man who is willing to take what she has left to give. It’s comfortable and friendly and he’s a wonderful guy and everything is okay. Then, because it’s Prison Break, then it isn’t.

What was your reaction when you found out Prison Break was coming back?

Sarah Wayne Callies: I didn’t believe it. I think actually very similarly to Sara being told Michael is alive, I just thought it was impossible. It took about a month or two to convince me that it was serious. I think at that point there was a lot of emotion that came up. We all owe a tremendous amount to it. Nobody knew who any of us were until Prison Break and then they did. So, it was emotional to think about going back into that world.

You’ve played Sara on Prison Break, Lori on The Walking Dead and now Katie on Colony. What’s the most exciting thing about going back to this character specifically?

Sarah Wayne Callies: There’s a simplicity to Sara’s moral universe that I’ve always really respected and I love. There are things that move her towards what she believes is right and then there’s everything else that doesn’t matter. I think all of the character’s in this, well for Lincoln, for Michael and for Sara, the moral universe is a simple one. It doesn’t matter how hard something is, it doesn’t matter what it costs you. What matters is, is it the right thing to do? That’s beautiful to play. It’s so simple. I love it, I really do, I love it.

Lori Grimes’ universe is so morally complex and there’s so many shades of grey because the universe in which she lives is an insane complicated moral universe. The same thing for Katie, it’s difficult that the Colony world where there’s so much deceit and lies because of the oppressive nature of the government. It’s really great to just keep it back to simple.

Sarah Wayne Callies and Christian Michael Cooper in Prison Break reboot. Photo Credit: FOX
Sarah Wayne Callies and Christian Michael Cooper in Prison Break reboot. Photo Credit: FOX

Could we see more Prison Break past this initial nine episode reboot?

Sarah Wayne Callies: I don’t know. This was pitched to me as nine episodes, drop the mic, walk away, this is what we’re doing. There are always rumors about other things. I’m treating this as the last go around, but then again I’ve said that before. I’m not in charge of that.

Sara and Lincoln always had a very strong bond. What’s their relationship like now?

Sarah Wayne Callies: Sara and Lincoln were kind of all each other had I think for years, especially for the years that we were still on the run living in Panama, living off the radar. I imagine for years that he was a really the one that helped her with her son and yet, I think eventually he went off on his own. Lincoln seems to be allergic to happiness sometimes and so he found a way to get himself back into trouble. I think there’s a lot of love and a lot of trust between the two of them. Partly because there aren’t that many people alive who know the story. It’s kind of just the two of them in their lives.

Prison Break has been over for seven years now, what about the show do you think has fans coming back to it or starting it for the first time?

Sarah Wayne Callies: What’s interesting, I mean, of people that stop me on the street, 1 out of every 2 is talking about Prison Break and 1 out of every 2 is talking about The Walking Dead or another project. I mean, the durability of the show has really surprised me. I get a lot of people that tell me they just watched it. That’s the amazing thing about our crazy digital age right now. A show that’s been off the show for seven years is still a current show thanks to Netflix and Blu-Rays and DVDs and things like that. So, it’s never been far from my consciousness and my experience because people are always talking to me about it.

Like I said, I have such a huge amount of gratitude for this show because Frank Darabont saw Prison Break, like me in Prison Break, so he brought me in for The Walking Dead. and Carlton Cuse saw The Walking Dead and brought me in for Colony. Everything stemmed from that. So, it’s always a part of my consciousness.

Knowing the loyal fan base, was there any added pressure to jumping back into the role of Sara?

Sarah Wayne Callies: It’s amazing. The Prison Break fans have given us so much of their loyalty and their love and their devotion. I definitely come out of that wanting to make sure whatever we create for them for another season deserves that affection. We are working hard on that and I think we’ve done it.

Catch Sarah Wayne Callies in Prison Break, which premieres mid-season on FOX.


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