Behind the walls of ''Prison Break'''s star attraction
Which came first: the prison or the plan? ”It was a blend of both,” says exec producer Paul Scheuring, adding that the logistics of Michael’s exit strategy were inspired by the layout of its real-life setting, Joliet Correctional Center. There was also a little creative license, like the infirmary-adjacent vertical shaft, invented to prove that the pretty boy is smart, too. (FYI: The plan is to scale the wall outside Dr. Sara’s office.) Here, an exclusive look at Fox River and Michael’s mad breakout scheme.
Okay — technically, it’s Michael and Sucre’s cell. The bunkmates make their home on the second floor of Cell Block A — ”right in the middle of it all, with sight lines to the other escapees’ cells,” says Scheuring. The inspiration for the setup? Rear Window.
Wall blocking the escape route? No problem! The Satan head in Michael’s tattoo doubles as a map for the wall’s structural stress points. An image of Jesus on the cross was originally slated to contain the encoded info, with stigmata marking the drill holes — but Fox vetoed this potentially offensive idea.
At Joliet, Lincoln’s cell is technically in ”the Tombs,” the oldest part of the facility, which once housed Civil War prisoners. More recently, his room briefly held infamous serial killer John Wayne Gacy. As you’d expect, most of Break‘s crew doesn’t really like to be in there. But Dominic Purcell says he’s adapted. ”It was freaky at first. Now it’s like going to work.”
THE ESCAPE PLAN
According to Michael, the route is like a cross-country trip: It begins in New York City (his cell) and ends in California (the infirmary). Everything in between is ”Route 66,” with the halfway point (the shed) being St. Louis. You can insert your own ”my least favorite state = execution chamber” joke here.
After ascending a tall vertical shaft below the infirmary building, Michael and the crew found themselves inside a maintenance room just below Sara’s clinic, which is where Lincoln is currently located. But a newly installed pipe separates the brothers, and Michael isn’t going anywhere without his big bro. Now the inmates must retreat and rethink. Does that mean a total overhaul of the plan? ”It’s not back to square one,” says Scheuring. ”Just one element in the middle would need to be changed.” Whew — that means this map wasn’t a total waste of our time!
THE GUARDS’ SHED
An escape tunnel inside the guards’ shed in the yard doesn’t seem like the brightest idea. Which is exactly the point. ”The last place anyone looks is right under their nose,” explains Scheuring. And despite recent developments, he says the hole ”is still the linchpin in this whole thing.”
A key tool in plotting the escape. But how can Michael & Co. be sure it’s not bugged? ”Um…good question,” says Scheuring. Originally located elsewhere in the yard, it was moved for more picturesque shots.