Fans of 24 who anticipate going through withdrawal this fall (it's not back until January, after all) may find a worthy distraction in Prison Break, which will be renting out Jack Bauer's Mondays-at-9 pm/ET home starting tonight. TVGuide.com spoke with stars Wentworth Miller (The Human Stain) and Dominic Purcell (John Doe), two guys whose biggest challenge — besides pulling off an elaborate escape — may be trying to make buzz cuts cool.
First up, Wentworth Miller:
TVGuide.com: You play Michael, a guy who goes to prison on purpose, to bust out his bro. Why not just hire a really, really good lawyer?
Wentworth Miller: Yeah, I probably would have just signed a few petitions, said a few prayers. But I think the psychology of my character is such that everyone in his life has left him — his mother is gone and the father abandoned them — so his brother is all that he has left. And there are certain things in the story you find out as we go along, which unfortunately I can't reveal to you, that kind of make me complicit in his being behind bars, so I feel a degree of responsibility there. I also think a part of my character enjoys the challenge.
TVGuide.com: What makes him think he can even do it?
Miller: He's clever and ruthless and obsessed. And I think my character is influenced — as is Paul Scheuring, who created the series — by Steve McQueen in The Great Escape and Paul Newman in Cool Hand Luke, so hopefully some of those characters' DNA will show up in mine.
TVGuide.com: And how many days in before Michael regrets his decision?
Miller: I'm sure there'll be moments of doubt, moments of "What have I gotten myself into?" He's in a situation where his brains and his degree are no guarantee that he won't end up with a shiv between his ribs. But he's a good man with a noble cause, and that requires him to get his hands dirty.
TVGuide.com: A lot of shows on TV now are about dysfunctional families hating on each other. This one is about a strong family bond and some serious loyalty.
Miller: This is not just an action thriller, it's really a story about family: How far would one go to save a loved one? In Michael's case, it's all the way to the wall. And it's a great show in that we get a lot of exploration into family, into what it means to be committed to something... into what it means to be a man.
TVGuide.com: Michael is more brains than brawn. How will he protect himself inside?
Miller: I made a conscious choice not to become superbuff. My character is a little bit smarter than your average joe, but in all other senses I wanted to make it quite clear that he is vulnerable. He is at the mercy of the other inmates in this deadly environment, and I think a lot of the tension of the show deals with him being in jeopardy and having to use his wits to elude the predators and antagonists.
TVGuide.com: Yeah, he is so going to get hurt.
Miller: In the first two hours, I get threatened, punched, shoved, thrown off a balcony, someone comes after me with some very sharp gardening shears…. My character risks literally life and limb to achieve his goal and will leave the prison — hopefully with his brother — having paid a price to save him.
Now, let's see what Dominic Purcell has to say:
TVGuide.com: Your character, Lincoln, is sitting on death row, claiming to have been framed for murder. Is he a good guy or a bad guy?
Dominic Purcell: He's a good guy who has done bad things.
TVGuide.com: How did you prep for the role?
Purcell: I'm doing a lot of sit-ups and push-ups, but I don't want that sculpted gym physique. A good template for me, regarding physicality, is Robert De Niro in Cape Fear — that mean, hungry kind of look.
TV Guide.com: You're shooting at a former prison in Joliet, Ill. What's that like?
Purcell: Well, it helps to stay in character! It is fundamentally dark and intense there. Obviously, prison life is very serious, but we do throw in some elements of humor.
TVGuide: How so?
Purcell: Just through the ridiculousness of some of the situations that occur in prison. It's a device to not hit the audience as hard.
TVGuide.com: How can Lincoln ever repay his brother for this grand gesture?
Purcell: Haven't worked that out yet. Don't know. I'll cross that bridge when I get to it. But I know there's something else he's going to do for me — he's gonna hook me up with some babes when we get out of prison!
[WARNING: SPOILER AHEAD]
TVGuide.com: Do you guys succeed in breaking out?
Purcell: Well…. um, uh, sure. Then it becomes all about trying to uncover the conspiracy that put Lincoln in jail in the first place. And we're trying to do that while on the run, so then it kind of takes on the essence of The Fugitive.
TVGuide.com: OK, so just when do you guys break on through to the other side?
Purcell: Now that I won't tell you….
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