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Wentworth Miller on Prison Break Season Two

Published August 17, 2006 in Television
By Fred Topel | Image property of respective holders.
Wentworth Miller Wentworth Miller
Prison Break delivered the promise of its title when the cast of convicts escaped over the wall in the season one finale. For season two, the challenge is to keep the story of convicts on the run as engrossing as the breakout plot of last year. Wentworth Miller and Dominic Purcell are back as Michael Scofield and his brother Lincoln Burrows respectively. Now on the lam, things won’t be as simple as just fleeing the country.

Miller Talks Prison Break s2

“At the end of last season, [Michael] lost two surrogate father figures in the space of one episode, the Warden and Westmoreland,” Miller said. “Then, he also, fatally, compromised his love interest, Dr. Sara. So, I think skipping off to Mexico with his brother, Lincoln, is not going to be as easy as he anticipated.”

Still, even with the weight of his actions on his mind, season two’s Scofield will get to show more range than the tough guy persona he adopted for his prison stint. “I’m excited,” Miller continued. “He’s going to have some lighter, more colorful shades. I told the writers, ‘When Michael is in prison, he’s a man with a mission. He’s facing down enemies at every turn. It’s not a place to be vulnerable. It’s not really a place to have light, unguarded moments. But, now that he’s off with his brother, around whom I think Michael is willing to show a side of himself that he’s not with others, there’s a lot more that I can explore.’ I hope to have a few light moments with Lincoln, speeding down the highway, but by and large, I think Michael’s task is only getting more difficult as things go on.”

The brothers still have to prove Lincoln innocent in the conspiracy to frame him for the president’s brother’s murder. Now the FBI has sent an agent (William Fichtner) after the escaped cons, and they’ve got ex-guard Bellick (Wade Williams) on their trail too. The other escapees are also looking for the Westmoreland’s $5 million.

Season Two is slightly easier on Miller because he no longer has to be the primary, central protagonist. It’s still the Lincoln and Michael story, but there are enough subplots with the other escaped cons to give him some days off.

“We have so many storylines, and Michael is not driving forward that plot about the Allen wrenches and the toilets and the escape hatches, and so on and so forth,” Miller said. “Now that the prisoners have temporarily gone their separate ways to pursue their separate agendas, and I’m not in scenes with Sucre or Abruzzi, I get that time off. I’d like to think that the brothers, their story, their dynamic, will remain very much on the front of the stove.”

Filming of Season Two moves from Chicago and the area surrounding Joliet prison to Dallas, Texas. Though it is still meant to represent the Midwest, Dallas afforded enough diverse settings to allow the show to tell stories of vast scope in one location.

“Dallas has a very schizophrenic feel to it,” Miller reflected. “There are sections that look east coast, Southwest, Midwest, etc. We spent so much time and effort grounding the show in Chicago last year, referencing landmarks and restaurants and so on, that we’ll continue to honor that, at least for the first few episodes, while the cons are still on foot, until they can feasibly be moved somewhere else, to different parts of the country.”

Whether the show’s romance will continue remains to be seen, even for the actors who have shot the first two episodes. “I think if Michael and Sara do have a future together, the next time they see each other, it will not be, ‘They fall into each other’s arms, tasteful fade to black,’” Miller said. “I think, if anything, they have more obstacles between them now than they did before because Michael did persuade her to help him, but she didn’t know that she was also helping four or five other hardened cons and serial killers get in on the escape. For that betrayal, I’m not sure she can ever forgive him.”

Though the show is still titled Prison Break, Miller is happy to leave the walls behind. “It’s a total re-invention of the show as we know it,” Miller said. “I’m relieved because it means we’re not shooting in the prison. I have a great deal of respect for Joliet. I thought it added something significant to the show. But, it was oppressive and, psychologically, it took its toll, working on a spot where men lived, suffered and died by the hundreds. So, I love the fact that we’re shooting out in the woods, and we’re down by the lake and by the train tracks. It feels like a totally different environment with the same set of heightened stakes, but transported to a fresh vista, and that’s reinvigorated the experience for me.”

Adding new cast members like Fichtner adds a new dimension as well. “I think it was important to find a substitute for the prison because the prison was our physical, very real, very formidable obstacle in the first season,” said Miller. “Now, we’re past that, so what stands in our way? We’ve got Bellick operating as a bounty hunter, we’ve got the government conspiracy that put my brother behind bars, and we also have Bill Fichtner’s character heading up the FBI investigation. And, I’m personally excited because I’ve always perceived his character as Michael’s doppelganger, just as ruthless, just as brilliant, just as relentless, but working from darker purposes. He’s the darker side of Michael’s coin, if you will.”

For all the changes to Prison Break, fans can still expect the same level of drama that kept them addicted last year. “I think the core relationships, hopefully, between the characters will not remain exactly the same, they’ll have to evolve, but Michael and Sucre will still have that great Odd Couple dynamic,” Miller said. “Michael and T-Bag will still be sworn enemies. The stakes will be just as high and the body count even higher. In that sense, I think we’ll stay true to what we were up to with the first season, which was a willingness to get rid of character, if and when it’s necessary.”

So don’t get too attached to any of your favorite characters. “I think in the world of Prison Break everyone has a number, it’s just a question of when it’s up.”

Prison Break returns August 21 on Fox.

Stay tuned for updates.

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Fred Topel
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