If I'm saying if Michael and Lincoln succeed in busting out on Fox's Prison Break (Mondays at 8 pm/ET), one guard in particular will make it his personal mission to hunt down the fugitives: Captain Bellick, he of the shady ways and the perpetually disgusted scowl. Here, the grumpy guard's portrayer, Wade Williams, reveals just how fiercely personal it's going to get for Bellick and the boys.
TVGuide.com: Fans really enjoy your work on Prison Break. Bellick is really the guard you love to hate.
Wade Williams: You know, I'm so fortunate, dude. I've been doing this a long time and to get a job like this... it's like getting struck by lighting, like getting the blessing of the Buddha. I'm really grateful.
TVGuide.com: Pre-Prison Break, what were you getting recognized for?
Williams: Well, I get recognized for Six Feet Under and for a character I've been doing on The Bernie Mac Show for five years, Father Cronin. See, the weird thing about me is I think I must look a lot different in person than I do on TV because most of the time I don't get recognized. Even now, people come up to me and say, "Are you the guy on Prison Break?"
TVGuide.com: You must not walk around looking surly enough.
Williams: [Laughs] I think so. I like to laugh, yeah. Although I can get a bit grumpy, sometimes.
TVGuide.com: Maybe if you also carried a billy club...
Williams: That probably would help, too. But you don't carry billy clubs in prison, actually. The one Bellick has is one of those telescoping batons that you "snap" out. Man, that thing will crack some skulls, I'm telling you!
TVGuide.com: Do family and friends marvel at you playing such a meanie?
Williams: My lot in life is to play the grumpy curmudgeon. I play the best a--hole on television. Not that I agree with that, but I do play a--holes a lot of the time. And my poor mother [Laughs]... she's just devastated. She doesn't tell any of her friends to watch, or she'll say, "Oh, I watched the show last night but I didn't see you on it" when I was in the whole thing! She really has a hard time with me playing the bad guy.
TVGuide.com: Have you gotten any feedback from real-life correctional officers?
Williams: The guys over at Stateville [Penitentiary], which is right across the river from Joliet [where Prison Break films], I've gotten a couple of compliments from them. There's also a guy who comes up from a prison in Alabama to help with the electric chair, and he's given me some nice compliments. I guess I'm doing OK. I think most of the prison guards aren't as corrupt as Bellick is, but I've also heard a lot of stories from guys like Chuck Goble, a major at Stateville who has helped me with the stuff that goes on in prison.
TVGuide.com: I figure that once Michael, Lincoln et al escape, Bellick will be the Tommy Lee Jones to their fugitives?
Williams: That's what they're telling me.... What's the last scene you saw?
TVGuide.com: Tweener had tipped off Bellick to the escape plan, and he's now in the guards' room tearing up the floor.
Williams: Now they're really going to put the nail in the coffin so that I have to go after them. I won't say what's going to happen... but it's going to be fun.
TVGuide.com: In real life would a guard go in pursuit, or is Bellick going to break rank and "freelance" on this?
Williams: I'm afraid to give you too much information, but believe me, there's going to be reason for me to at least have the impulse to kick some a--. [Laughs]
TVGuide.com: Good, because it'd be a shame to lose the character. He's such a good foil to the boys.
Williams: They used to say in the theater that the hero is only as good as the villain if you've got a really good bad guy, it makes the hero look better. So I think the kudos really go to the writers for creating an interesting, multifaceted bad guy who makes Michael and the prisoners the "good guys" in this are the prisoners, remember look smarter.
TVGuide.com: Will Bellick be onto rogue Secret Service agent Kellerman soon? They crossed paths twice during last week's manhunt for Lincoln.
Williams: So far, I don't think the switch has gone off for Bellick. He hasn't made the connection yet.
TVGuide.com: Did you like Sara's flashback, where we saw Bellick try to woo her with a dinner date at Sizzler?
Williams: That was fantastic! That's what's so great about the writing you get to do stuff like that. I've done a lot of TV shows and they don't write you interesting stuff like that that humanizes you, which is especially nice playing a black hat like this.
TVGuide.com: I'm Q&Aing Stacy Keach in a few days. Is he a big ol' teddy bear or what?
Williams: Oh, he's a real teddy bear. He's a seasoned pro and a gentleman. I've been honored to have a lot of scenes with him.
TVGuide.com: Bellick is like the Pope's pit bull.
Williams: Yeah, there's a whole underlying current to that. In the correctional business, there are two philosophies about incarceration: It can be seen as rehabilitation, and you make it nice for [the cons] so they learn they don't have to live a certain way, or you just make them pay for their crime. Bellick is more "They're paying for their crime," whereas the Pope is on the other side. Interestingly enough, there was a huge thing about that in the Illinois state penitentiary system about 10 years ago, where there was a videotape of prisoners doing drugs and getting all kinds of favors. At that point, the pendulum had swung way too far to the left. The hammer then came down and it swung back the other way to where they were locked in their cells 23 hours a day.
TVGuide.com: Last question: Do you tease Wentworth Miller and Dominic Purcell about being Prison Break's pretty little cover boys?
Williams: They're so damn pretty, aren't they? But I gotta tell you, they've both got melon heads. Actually the whole cast, we've got some of the biggest heads on TV in terms of cranium size. [Laughs] Everybody is bald even Abruzzi is bald now and everybody has extralarge heads.
TVGuide.com: It takes a special noggin to pull off bald.
Williams: It does, doesn't it? But those guys are great. Dominic is fantastic, he's got a great sense of humor. And Wentworth, he seems so damn serious on the show but he's got a great laugh. They set a good example for everybody. If your lead guys complain and gripe and moan, that stuff trickles down. These guys, though, even with an hour-and-a-half drive to Joliet from Chicago, even with being stuck shooting in the prison all day long, they show up, suit up and do their job without complaining. They set a great tone.
TVGuide.com: But as nice as they are, if they bust out, you're coming after them.
Williams: Dude, they ain't busting out as far as Bellick is concerned. Prison break? Prison no break, baby! They're not going anywhere.