Patricia Wettig on Prison Break
now has something in common with 24
alum Dennis Haysbert
(currently on CBS' The Unit
) — neither of them are any longer playing the president of the United States for Fox.
While Wettig's Prison Break character, the crafty Caroline Reynolds, was set to play the leader of the free world in the show's sophomore season, the actress — who wasn't under contract to the Fox drama — opted instead to accept a role on Brothers & Sisters. Premiering this fall, the ABC serial examines relationships among grown siblings and is being executive-produced by Wettig's real-life husband, Ken Olin (Alias; thirtysomething).
But don't cry nepotism. Wettig is a three-time Emmy winner, after all.
Brothers & Sisters, though, is truly a family affair for Wettig, in that her and Olin's son works on the show, too. "He is the youngest staff writer [here]," the proud mom states. "Ken loves it because he gets to see his son at the studio." (OK, maybe now you can cry nepotism.)
Brothers & Sisters' all-star cast includes Calista Flockhart (Ally McBeal), Rachel Griffiths (Six Feet Under), Ron Rifkin (Alias) and Sally Field (Sybil). Wettig plays outsider Holly Harper, who, like Prison Break's Caroline, has an edge. "I'm a little evil on this [show], too," she chuckles. "I think it's my new thing."
The big question begotten by her new Brothers & Sisters gig: Will Wettig's Prison Break role be written out, or recast? "I truly have zero idea," the actress offers. "I'm surprised that I don't know. It was a hard decision because it was a very good part; I liked doing it, and it was fun. When [the producers] said to me, 'We want you to be the president! We have all this stuff for you,' I said, 'Well, no one has come to me.'" Wettig says a Prison Break deal ultimately was proffered, but "not to do my husband's show would have been hard." [A Prison Break rep tells TVGuide.com, "President Reynolds is still very much a presence [in Season 2] and her influence is felt, but as Patricia [Wettig] is a series regular on Brothers & Sisters, we will not be seeing her — at least in early episodes."]
Do Wettig and Olin leave their jobs at the studio when the day ends? "Not as a rule," Wettig says. "I know that when we did thirtysomething it was very hard for us to leave it at work. We were so in the middle of that show. But [Brothers & Sisters] is new, so we'll see where it ends up going. Hopefully, you can bring it home to a certain extent and then that's enough; it's back to our lives."
Wettig says returning to Prison Break would have not only taken her away from her family at work, but at home, too, since Season 2 is being filmed in Texas. Not that Wettig has anything against the Lone Star State. In fact, she likens Brothers & Sisters, which is currently being retooled, to a modern-day Dallas. "We're not in the '80s here, but I think there's something about the way [Dallas] spun around this extended family," she observes. "In its own modern way, [Brothers & Sisters] will be interesting. The writers are popping a lot of soap-opera elements into it."
Like massive shoulder pads and lots of bling? "No, not as many jewels," Wettig says. "But my hair does get kind of big."
What might make Brothers & Sisters stand out among the many serialized dramas premiering this fall? "I think you'll be able to recognize your families and your issues, and not just watch it as a fantasy show," muses Wettig. "Fantasy shows are great — I'm not knocking them — but for my other appetite, I like to find myself."
Wetting also wouldn't mind finding her Prison Break replacement, should they opt to give her lady president a new face. Fittingly/ironically, she thinks Jean Smart would make a great Caroline Reynolds. "Is she still on 24 [as First Lady Martha Logan]? She's great," Wettig raves. "I love her and I hope she wins the Emmy. Whoever they get [to play Reynolds], I hope she has steely eyes."
For more Prison Break Season 2 scoop, pick up this week's TV Guide.
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