Before he ever strapped on (ultimately disgraced) FBI agent Alexander Mahone's holster, William Fichtner made a porn film... within the plot of The Amateurs, an engaging little indie that slipped in and out of theaters but is now available on DVD (shop Amazon). TVGuide.com invited Fichtner to reflect on the film's extremely fun shoot, as well as preview what's ahead on Fox's soon-to-conclude Prison Break.
TVGuide.com: I interviewed you a few years back, just as Invasion was about to... you know, vanish.
William Fichtner: Oh, yes, I do remember that! [Laughs]
TVGuide.com: And what you told me, way back then, is that The Amateurs was "the best time I have ever had on a film," "the joy of my life."
Fichtner: There you go! See, I said it back then... and I still say it today.
TVGuide.com: Why was it your "the best time ever" on a film?
Fichtner: It was the combination of the guys working on it and the material, too. First and foremost, I'm always turned on by certain scripts, and I found this one really endearing. It's about these oddball misfits coming together....
TVGuide.com: In that respect it's almost like some "Let's rob a bank" caper.
Fichtner: Kind of, except they're trying to do something else. And with that combination of actors, there was no downside to it. I had an awesome time.
TVGuide.com: I was reading off the cast list to a coworker — you, Jeff Bridges, Ted Danson, Tim Blake Nelson, Joe Pantoliano — and she was like, "That’s a lot of good, interesting actors!"
Fichtner: [Laughs] I think an awful lot of people wanted to be a part of it.
TVGuide.com: Who would you say is the best audience for this DVD? A bunch of guys getting together over a case of beers?
Fichtner: I have to tell you something... when I was in college and if I was sitting around with a bunch of guys, this would be a real fun film to put on. But I've screened this film for friends and the ladies like it as much as the guys. No doubt about it.
TVGuide.com: Do they like the "men behaving dumbly" aspect?
Fichtner: Yeah, but the thing that always set The Amateurs apart for me was the writing. I never used the word "raunchy" to describe it because these guys... it's almost like "It's a Wonderful Life makes a porno." They're really very sincere human beings. They may not be the coolest group around, but it's a pure pursuit. That always made it a more endearing piece than the subject matter would suggest. It's not played for, "Hey, c'mon, let's get the babes!" It's got a lot more heart. They can't even watch [the porno] when they're making it!
TVGuide.com: There's an outtakes reel on the DVD. I imagine that with this crowd, there was plenty to choose from.
Fichtner: [Laughs] You know, [small] films like this, the schedule is so packed and we had to move quick. The day we shot the gazebo scene, where Jeff describes what the plan is, because of where the sun was, the director said, "Listen, Bill, we're going to get to you... eventually." Finally they get it set up and a some guy in a biplane starts practicing loop-de-loops right above the gazebo! It made a tremendous amount of noise. Twenty minutes before we [would] lose the light... I talked quick!
TVGuide.com: On this week's Prison Break, after Mahone said, "I don’t have a horse in this race" and readied to part ways, they made an interesting choice to have Linc remember that Alex killed the brothers' father and then to pull a gun on him — no pats on the back there. What did you think of that choice?
Fichtner: One thing is for sure, television shows live or die on writing. The joy of Prison Break has been the writers. They're great and they forever challenged me, which makes the journey worth it. I can't do a series over 22 shows just to get paid. I'd die. These guys have been awesome. They could have played that either way — "Thanks, we never would have gotten out without you" — but that’s what Prison Break does, better than most. Just when you think you know something, something else comes along.
TVGuide.com: That moment got interrupted by Whistler's escape, of course, and we didn’t see Mahone again. Is he still in the mix?
Fichtner: [Silence] We're breaking up here.... No, I'm kidding. [Laughs] We'll see what happens. We'll see what happens. I will tell you, there is one more show making up the first 13, and you will see Mahone.
TVGuide.com: How satisfying is the strike-shortened season's makeshift finale [airing Monday, Feb. 18]?
Fichtner: For the most part, all of the episodes come to a satisfying ending. Like I said, I can't compliment the writers enough. Believe me, you're going to get a few twists and turns that are like, "Whoa, where did that come from?!"
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