Wentworth Miller EW
Hot Inmates! Crazy Conspiracies! That Sexy Tattoo! The Jailhouse Hit Is Finally Back! Wentworth Miller and Dominic Purcell take the cover of Entertainment Weekly in the March 24, 2006 issue. (That’s my birthday. It must be a sign.) Inset: USA Today also has a Prison Break feature where Wentworth reveals, "As the pressure mounts and complications arise, he’s only human, and all that fear and anxiety that he has suppressed starts to rise." Prison Break returns with an all new episode this Monday @ 8/7c on FOX. If you don’t know what you’re missing, FX is airring a Prison Break marathon (noon to 7 ET/PT) on Sunday. More pictures in the gallery!
Wentworth Miller is like his Prison Break character
Michael Scofield in that they both have "a sense of discipline
and organization. My scripts are in a very neat stack."
Amaury Nolasco revealed, "When I first got here, I
wanted to explore the prison, so I went by myself and
got locked in a cell. I was like a kid in a haunted house."
How did you feel about the three-month hiatus? I hope the fans don’t hold it against us. I talked to some fans who were upset that we got pulled when we did; I think they were quite on the edge of their seats. I only hope we got the hook in deep enough…. All of these [scheduling] decisions are being made by people I’ve never met and probably never will. I was told this was some kind of experiment — that Fox wanted to set up a kind of schedule that’s akin to what you might find on cable, where 24 was on for six months, then we were on for six months… I think there was an outcry. And I think when fans heard we might be off until May… they went to town for it. My mom is a big fan of the show. She misses seeing me on TV every week. I thought it might be cool if we released the first 13 episodes on DVD before we aired, but again, my decisions are mute.
You sound like a real marketing guru. Well, I did work behind the scenes for six years. I picked up bits and pieces when I wasn’t walking someone’s dog or working Xerox machines.
Do you find playing Michael has affected your life? Do you suddenly start thinking real deliberately and intricately about how you’re going to clean your apartment or something? No, I don’t. I don’t have to. Because the character and I already had a lot in common to begin with. I’m not Michael Scofield, but I haven’t plucked him out of thin air… I’ve exaggerated [him] for the show.
What do you have in common with Michael? His sense of discipline and organization. Those are things that have served me well on the road to forging some kind of career for myself. My scripts are in a neat stack at home.
The prison has a real oppressive vibe. What’s it like to work here? How has your regard for this setting evolved? If you find a stone with a sharp edge, and you rub it a great deal, eventually that stone will become smooth. After working here for eight months, it’s simply a place I go to work. The initial feeling of mystery and sadness when I came to Joliet has worn off pretty significantly. I do have a little fantasy where in the last episode of the season we break out of our cells, slip down into the prison’s sewer systems, we’re climbing up through all these grates, and we pop up out a hatch — and we’re face to face with [Lost's] Matthew Fox. It would be nice to get out of here…. I had a friend who came to visit me who is versed in certain New Age spiritual matters. She said, ”It’s like someone burned toast in the room — the smell remains. So many terrible things happened in this place it’s left a residue, and what you don’t realize is that you’re all taking this home with you.” She said we should all be massaged at the end of the day. I’m all for that!
How has your attitude and approach to your character evolved? It has changed. There is an episode coming up… a flashback episode where you see all the characters in their lives before meeting up behind bars. It was a pivotal episode in terms of how I perceive my character, because up until that point, I had always assumed there was ”Pre-Prison Michael” and ”Prison Michael,” and the division between the two, or at least the catalyst for Prison Michael, was Lincoln being incarcerated — suddenly Michael assumed this stone-cold, poker-face persona to help him navigate these very dangerous corners. But when I read the flashback episode, I realized that that persona is something my character developed early on, when his parents were no longer on the scene. It was just Michael and his brother, and his brother was all he had, but his brother was also dysfunctional. So [because] Michael had to protect himself from the person that also happens to be the most important presence in his life, he started developing that kind of distance. There’s a beautiful kind of irony to my character’s story: The very persona that Lincoln forced Michael to develop at an early age is exactly what’s going to save Lincoln’s ass here and now.
Michael is always in total control. Will we ever see him get ruffled? Absolutely. That [flashback] episode and the one following it, it’s like someone threw a hammer in a mirror and Michael starts to splinter. The plan goes south, his brother is two steps from the electric chair, and now the cracks start to show. Michael’s humanity that he’s been burying all along — his fear, his anxiety, his anger — all that starts to seep through.
It is extremely cold today here on the set — and you’re shooting outside, in the yard. How do you survive a day like this? It all comes back to gratitude. I’m happy to have a show. I’m happy to have a place to go every morning. I’m incredibly fortunate to be working with material that inspires me. And I’m also working with a fantastic cast and crew. If you want to know what gets me through the day and it’s freezing and your lips are refusing to do what want them to do, all you can hope for a take is that you get the words out in the right order.
It seems like you and the cast are a pretty tight. Thick as thieves, you might say. We all genuinely like each other. No one throws tantrums. There are no divas. We do not tolerate divas, as a matter of fact.
What happens when someone pulls some diva behavior? We take ‘em down! We’re like a fraternity: If someone gets a little uppity, or their nose is out of joint, we joke with them, until we slap them upside the head.
How have you dealt with your newfound celebrity? I try to stay as far away from the excessive parts of the business as possible. I don’t go out to the bars and clubs. I’m not trolling the fansites. The attraction is there; two people at a bar, talking about you — you wanna know what they’re saying. Then again, they may not know who you are, and they may not even like you. I remember going on one site, reading something about my performance and it wasn’t flattering. I took it to heart — like it was my acting coach who had given me some criticism — until I realized, This could be some 11-year-old in his mom’s basement who didn’t get his juice box that morning and he’s taking the abuse out on me.
Will you be spending your summer vacation working on a film? As we approached the hiatus, I thought, Now is the time for me to get into a feature, maybe something small, something that winds up at Sundance — a nice contrast to Prison Break. But while I hope Prison Break is a means to an end, it’s also an ends to itself. So I decided not to do anything in my hiatus. We shot 22 episodes. It’s strenuous. It’s important to take a couple months off to recharge the batteries so I can go into the second season and be just as kick-ass.
How much do you know about life after breakout? I know the general outline where things are going to go, where Michael and Lincoln will find themselves in the second season. But I don’t know the day-to-day mechanics.
I’m hearing rumors of a prison break-in somewhere down the road? I have heard about the brothers perhaps winding up back in prison after a season on the run. If they can keep coming up with the ideas, I’m all for it. I personally think this show will burn bright, and fast. There’s a beginning, a middle, and an end. We’re not a Friends or a CSI that can be strung out forever. There’s a certain story we set out to tell, and one day, we’ll reach the end of it.
Will you be able to get rid of the tattoo next season? I wish. It seems that it’s coming with us… Michael has included on his tattoo various things that reference what we might do once we’re on the outside. So we might not see it as much, but it will certainly be there. It’s become difficult. It’s four- or five-hour process, each and every time. The writers have hard-on for it. I know it’s a great special effect. But it takes work. My idea is that as soon as the brothers break out, they stop off at a clinic somewhere south of the border for a little bit of laser tattoo removal and take care of that puppy once and for all.