It has been eight years since Fox’s popular series Prison Break ended its run. But the two stars of the show, Wentworth Miller and Dominic Purcell, got together and came up with the idea of bringing the franchise back for a limited event.
In the original series Michael Scofield (Miller, DC’s Legends of Tomorrow), is determined to get his convicted brother, Lincoln Burrows (Purcell, DC’s Legends of Tomorrow), from death row at the Fox River State Penitentiary. Michael conjures up an elaborate plan to break Lincoln out of prison. This includes tattooing the blueprint of the prison’s map on his back.
When Lincoln and Sara (Sarah Wayne Callies, Colony, The Walking Dead), Michael’s wife until he was presumed dead, reunite to devise the biggest escape ever. Their plan includes bringing back together other notorious escapees from the Fox River State Penitentiary, including the notorious T-Bag (Robert Knepper, Twin Peaks).
Paul T Scheuring, the creator and producer of the series, along with Wentworth Miller, Sarah Wayne Callies and Robert Knepper, came to the TV Critics tour in January to discuss the limited series, which premiered on Fox on April 4th 2017.
Wentworth, if The Flash and DC’s Legends of Tomorrow had never cast you as Captain Cold and Dominic as Heat Wave, would this Prison Break revival ever had happened?
Wentworth Miller: That’s a great question, and I’m not sure what the answer is. That is where Dom and I had our reunion. We hadn’t seen each other for about five years, and suddenly, we are back on set. We were talking about old times, and out of that conversation came the possibility of revisiting Prison Break.
Paul, was the genesis of the plot line, ‘How do we bring Michael back to life?’ Did the story followed out of that, or did you come to it a different way?
Paul T Scheuring: You are exactly right because, obviously, the initial impetus came from Wentworth and Dominic, and then it kind of filtered over to me.
In the new era of television, people are much more open to limited runs and event series. So knowing that, and for them coming to me and saying, ‘Let’s do a limited run of this thing,’ which was originally scheduled for ten and then became nine (episodes) ultimately, I said, ‘Okay. That’s worth doing.
If we can tell a very tight, close?ended story as to why Michael might possibly still be alive, I’m open to that.’ And so I started exploring reasons why, and it took me back about 2,500 years in literature, but I found a reason why.
Wentworth, what’s up with the new tattoo? Do you get full tattoos back again or not this time?
Wentworth: It’s a different set of tattoos, and they serve a slightly different purpose. That’s all I can say.
How do you top the one in the original series?
Wentworth: I’m not sure there’s any topping the original. It was a pretty original set piece back in 2005, and this one, I think, stands on its own.
Robert, do you think Prison Break could have come back without T-Bag? Is he the ultimate bad guy?
Robert Knepper: My father always used to say to me, “If you think you are so important, put your finger in a bucket of water, pull it out, and see how fast that hole fills up.”
I think, yeah, it absolutely could have. T-Bag is a great character, but it’s an ensemble.
Paul, I’m curious about T-Bag’s bionic hand. What was the genesis of that idea? Were the prosthetics difficult to work with back in the day, and you wanted something else? Where did the idea come from?
Paul: Well, bionic I think is obviously a fun way to characterize it, but it’s all based actually on real prosthetic technology. On one level you don’t want him to run around with a rubber hand for the rest of his life because it’s a bit silly.
But, on another level, there’s a reason within the narrative that he actually gets it. So it does have a dramatic reason for being in the show.
Can you talk about returning to the franchise? Do you have a shorthand with each other, and did you fall right back into it, or was it awkward at first?
Sarah Wayne Callies: I think one of the challenges at the beginning of a new project is trying to figure out the relationships you have with all the characters (and actors) you’re working with. What your history is so that there’s some authenticity there.
There’s a lot of history (on this series); when we started this marriages, children, coming out, politics changing. Everybody’s life, I think, is monumentally different. And, in some form, we’ve seen that through together.
I think that brings it a texture and immediacy to those relationships that some actors can fake. I, apparently, am not good enough to be one of them. My very first scene was with Dom, and there’s just a decade there. And that’s kind of irreplaceable.
Robert: It was just an amazing, blessed experience.
I’ve had the great honor and pleasure with my wife to be able to go this year to Brussels, Amsterdam, Finland and China and to shoot in Cape Town.
Our faces are painted on buses in Nairobi. It’s as if the show never ended. Every nation in the world knows this show. And it doesn’t matter that it hasn’t been on for (eight) years.