After a long eight-week hiatus, the Prison Break continues tonight at 8 pm/ET, on Fox. But not everyone in jeopardy is on the run from the law. Disgraced and now-imprisoned Fox River bull Brad Bellick (series regular Wade Williams), for one, is trying to elude an outlaw named Bank. Playing the large-looming inmate is Lester "Mighty Rasta" Speight, who made waves a few Super Bowl ad campaigns ago as "office linebacker Terry Tate." (Check out his website.) A few days ago, the big guy gave TVGuide.com a call.
TVGuide.com: Mighty Rasta! How are you doing?
Lester "Rasta" Speight: Good, how are you?
TVGuide.com: You are a very large, very scary man.
Speight: [Laughs] Not to my family, though!
TVGuide.com: What are your current stats? I have you listed here as 6-foot-6, 325 lbs.
Speight: I'm 310 now, 305....
TVGuide.com: What, you're on a diet? Jenny Craig?
Speight: [Laughs] Yeah, Jenny Craig. It's killing me, man, but I'm looking a lot better.
TVGuide.com: Of course, in addition to your work on ABC's My Wife and Kids (as Vanessa's father), people might recognize you from one of the most-watched Super Bowl ads of all time, the Reebok/"Terry Tate" spot.
Speight: Yes, sir. It's the No. 2 commercial of all time for the Super Bowl. Mean Joe Green's Coca-Cola commercial was voted No. 1.
TVGuide.com: You're in good company.
Speight: Yeah, it's not too bad, not too bad. God didn't give me the Super Bowl the way I wanted it — I wanted to play in one — but he ended up giving me one of the most memorable Super Bowl commercials of all time. Just to bring you up to speed on Terry Tate, maybe we'll have another Super Bowl commercial next year... and, from that we're looking at, the chance to make movie history by being the first commercial ever spun into a movie.
TVGuide.com: I have to say, Prison Break's Bank is rather well-spoken, very good at articulating his threats against Bellick. There's a point where Bellick lets him down, shall we say, and Bank says, "Now you've made me look like an ass" — but he almost whispers the "ass," there in the middle of a prison.
Speight: It's a struggle for a very large, intimidating actor to try to find various ways to parlay being intimidating. Usually, the best intimidators are smaller guys who don't have size, but have minds. Intimidation really is about the mind. Like in The Godfather, Scarface.... Sonny Corleone didn't have to lift a finger, but when he did raise his voice, you knew he meant it. So I was trying to be creative, and I didn't want to be over-the-top.... You've got to look at the circumstances there in prison: I could do anything I want with Bellick right there. I don't have to whoop his ass. I can have fun with him, like a cat playing with a mouse. Everything doesn't have to be a physical confrontation. That's how Kevin Hooks, the director, and I saw Bank.
TVGuide.com: Is he going to stay a thorn in Bellick's side, or is Bellick going to, like, stick a shiv in someone to win Bank's favor?
Speight: We've got our fingers crossed and are holding onto four-leaf clovers, glad that critics like yourself are liking the character. You see what Bellick does to me [in tonight's episode], so now it's time for my retaliation on him. I have to tell you, Wade [Williams] is really cool. We have a good fight scene.
TVGuide.com: How did this Prison Break gig come to you?
Speight: My agent called me up and said they had a part for me, so I went in there, got a callback, and boom, they said, "We want Rasta."
TVGuide.com: Now, why "Rasta"?
Speight: It comes from my old wrestling days, because my biological ancestors have roots in the Bahamas. I don't have dreads and I don't live like the Rastas, but I have decided that Rasta stands for "Righteous Americans Stand Together Always."
Speight: Thank you. I've been trying to brand myself here in Hollywood, like [Dwayne] "The Rock" [Johnson]. My real name is Lester Speight, but we're creating myself as Lester "Rasta" Speight, then as I move along in this industry I'm going to drop the Rasta. I don't see them giving the Oscar to a guy named Rasta! [Laughs] It's all part of the game.
TVGuide.com: You did voice work for Xbox 360's Gears of War, right?
Speight: Right. I play the voice of Gus. So we've got the No. 1 video game in the country right now, and the 25th [ranked] video game of all time.
TVGuide.com: And you also do stand-up?
Speight: I do stand-up, too, yeah. I poke fun at myself, at being this big, at relationships, at the response I get when I walk onto an airplane.... It all depends on what's going on. I really want to be the first known, big, muscular stand-up comedian. That's my goal.
TVGuide.com: Speaking of comedy, you're in the upcoming Eddie Murphy movie, Norbit. The previews look very funny.
Speight: Thank you! I play Blue, who is Rasputia's brother — and of course Eddie plays Rasputia [a very large African-American woman]. Norbit is her boyfriend, and Blue just makes sure that Norbit takes care of his baby sister. Where Cinderella has the bad stepsisters, we're the bad "stepbrothers." We give him a lot of s--t. Eddie plays Rasputia and Norbit, as well as Mr. Wong.
TVGuide.com: What's it like working on one of these films where Eddie is playing all these different roles?
Speight: It's amazing. You know he has to be tired, putting on the suit for Rasputia, which took at least a couple of hours of makeup. He only would shoot three or four hours with that on.
TVGuide.com: Before we go, how about a final message from Bank to Bellick?
Speight: "Payback is a bitch — and then you die." That's all I'm gonna say.
For more Prison Break preview, read TVGuide.com's Trivial Matt'rs blog.
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