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 Wentworth Miller chats about being Michael Scofield again, the timeless nature of Prison Break and much more!
Check out the full interview below!
How is it being Michael Scofield again?
Wentworth Miller: A bit like riding a bike. I didn’t have anytime in between Legends of Tomorrow and the start of production of Prison Break to go back and watch all 81 episodes of the original series, so I just had to trust that Michael Scofield was in me somewhere and turns out he was.
What was the first day on set like?
Wentworth Miller: The first day was hectic as all first days are. It was a prison set. A lot of extras. Three different cameras swirling around. I was on one side of prison bars, of course, and Dominc was on the other and that served me. All I had to do was look into his eyes, hear his voice and it anchored me in this relationship as it has all these years.
Will this reboot differ in terms of themes or storytelling or will it remind fans of the original in that sense?
Wentworth Miller: I think it can stand alone in terms of you can appreciate it without having seen the original. but it’s meant to feel like a continuation. It’s the same in terms of themes of brotherhood and sacrifice and family and loyalty. All the stuff that the fans, I think, appreciated the first time around, but it’s also meant to feel very present day, like the action could be happening out there in the world right now.
Since ending Prison Break, one of your most notable projects is playing Captain Cold in The Flash and Legends of Tomorrow. Do you think there’s overlap between fans of Legends and Prison Break fans?
Wentworth Miller: I think there is an overlap, at least in my mind, as far as the characters on the show like Legends of Tomorrow and the characters on a show like Prison Break. Prison Break has always had a certain comic book quality to it. We can get away with things you wouldn’t necessarily be able to get away with on Mad Men for example. I think that Michael Scofield in particular does have a superhero facet to him. He’s able to endure what the next man might not be able to endure and at the same time is still human and relatable. That’s the same quality I try to bring to my portrayal of Captain Cold. He has this superhero facet as well, but is still recognizably a human being.
The fanbase for Prison Break has grown since the show ended. Did that change the way you played Michael this time around?
Wentworth Miller: That awareness did not change for me. If anything it just set the bar higher in terms of the quality of work expected. This was not about economics. This was about giving the fans something that would stand alongside what came before. If it was not a story worth telling, if this was going to feel like diminishing returns, then I would not have been interested in participating.
When we last saw Michael he was presumed dead. Now he’s alive! What has he been up to for seven years?
Wentworth Miller: He’s been walking a very dark road. He’s always been a good man, pursing a good cause and willing to get his hands dirty, but his hands are now quite filthy. His sole objective in these nine episodes is to get back home to his wife and his child, but when he gets there the question is, will he be recognizable. Will he still be in any way, shape or form the man that Sara once knew.
Do you still meet Prison Break fans?
Wentworth Miller: I do. I meet fans everyday who are watching the show right now. For them it’s present tense. It’s like it’s still airing.
What do you think is the quality about Prison Break that has made it so timeless?
Wentworth Miller: I think there are any number of answers. Universal themes that people vibe with no matter what the language or culture. I think there’s the government conspiracy hook, there’s the prison hook. The show kind of mastered that hook in the mouth, stay tuned, see what happens next week tease element. I feel for the fans because they’re not going to be able to download all nine episodes and watch them all at once. They’re going to have to wait week to week to week. That might require a degree of patience.
Although Prison Break ended, you and Dominc Purcell never stopped working together. How is it working with him as Michael and Lincoln again?
Wentworth Miller: I think there’s a real respect there. Dominic feels like a brother at this point. Somewhere in the original 81 episodes, pretending he was my brother day after day after day, he became my brother. It’s out of that relationship and our continued relationship, personally and professionally, that this Prison Break reboot has come about.
Did you have any reservation about bringing Prison Break back?
Wentworth Miller: I wanted the story to be one worth telling, as I mentioned. I wanted to make sure we got back as many of the original cast as possible, those who were still alive anyway. I even advocated on behalf of those who weren’t. I thought, ‘Well maybe there’s a dream sequence where Michael talks to Bellick or Westmoreland.’ That’s one of the things the fans can really look forward to is that reunion element. Seeing these old favorites on screen interacting in new ways.