From the Joliet Correctional Center set of ''Prison Break'': Jeff Jensen talks to Wentworth Miller about upcoming episodes, how he's similar to his character, and more
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Credit: Wentworth Miller: Stefano C. Montesi/Photomovie/Retna

ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: How did you feel about the three-month hiatus?
WENTWORTH MILLER: I hope the fans don’t hold it against us. I talked to some fans who were upset that we got pulled when we did; I think they were quite on the edge of their seats. I only hope we got the hook in deep enough…. All of these [scheduling] decisions are being made by people I’ve never met and probably never will. I was told this was some kind of experiment — that Fox wanted to set up a kind of schedule that’s akin to what you might find on cable, where 24 was on for six months, then we were on for six months… I think there was an outcry. And I think when fans heard we might be off until May… they went to town for it. My mom is a big fan of the show. She misses seeing me on TV every week. I thought it might be cool if we released the first 13 episodes on DVD before we aired, but again, my decisions are mute.

You sound like a real marketing guru.
Well, I did work behind the scenes for six years. I picked up bits and pieces when I wasn’t walking someone’s dog or working Xerox machines.

Do you find playing Michael has affected your life? Do you suddenly start thinking real deliberately and intricately about how you’re going to clean your apartment or something?
No, I don’t. I don’t have to. Because the character and I already had a lot in common to begin with. I’m not Michael Scofield, but I haven’t plucked him out of thin air… I’ve exaggerated [him] for the show.

What do you have in common with Michael?
His sense of discipline and organization. Those are things that have served me well on the road to forging some kind of career for myself. My scripts are in a neat stack at home.

The prison has a real oppressive vibe. What’s it like to work here? How has your regard for this setting evolved?
If you find a stone with a sharp edge, and you rub it a great deal, eventually that stone will become smooth. After working here for eight months, it’s simply a place I go to work. The initial feeling of mystery and sadness when I came to Joliet has worn off pretty significantly. I do have a little fantasy where in the last episode of the season we break out of our cells, slip down into the prison’s sewer systems, we’re climbing up through all these grates, and we pop up out a hatch — and we’re face to face with [Lost‘s] Matthew Fox. It would be nice to get out of here…. I had a friend who came to visit me who is versed in certain New Age spiritual matters. She said, ”It’s like someone burned toast in the room — the smell remains. So many terrible things happened in this place it’s left a residue, and what you don’t realize is that you’re all taking this home with you.” She said we should all be massaged at the end of the day. I’m all for that!

How has your attitude and approach to your character evolved?
It has changed. There is an episode coming up… a flashback episode where you see all the characters in their lives before meeting up behind bars. It was a pivotal episode in terms of how I perceive my character, because up until that point, I had always assumed there was ”Pre-Prison Michael” and ”Prison Michael,” and the division between the two, or at least the catalyst for Prison Michael, was Lincoln being incarcerated — suddenly Michael assumed this stone-cold, poker-face persona to help him navigate these very dangerous corners. But when I read the flashback episode, I realized that that persona is something my character developed early on, when his parents were no longer on the scene. It was just Michael and his brother, and his brother was all he had, but his brother was also dysfunctional. So [because] Michael had to protect himself from the person that also happens to be the most important presence in his life, he started developing that kind of distance. There’s a beautiful kind of irony to my character’s story: The very persona that Lincoln forced Michael to develop at an early age is exactly what’s going to save Lincoln’s ass here and now.

Michael is always in total control. Will we ever see him get ruffled?
Absolutely. That [flashback] episode and the one following it, it’s like someone threw a hammer in a mirror and Michael starts to splinter. The plan goes south, his brother is two steps from the electric chair, and now the cracks start to show. Michael’s humanity that he’s been burying all along — his fear, his anxiety, his anger — all that starts to seep through.

Prison Break
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