As the Prison Break season three premiere looms, Mr. Wentworth has been giving interviews left and right. In fact, a little birdie sent me a few which I have transcribed (and paraphrased except for Went’s words) for all of you below. Any duplicate answers have been omitted as I’m sure we’ll hear them repeatedly over the next couple weeks. We will begin with a bit of a spoiler so skip this first question if you are avoiding all spoilers, like I am.
Journalist: Does Whistler’s agenda tie in with the original agenda of The Company?
Went: That’s a good question. I think season 3 will be about Michael and Lincoln trying to survive as pawns in a very large, very deadly game of chess and as the actor and as the character I can honestly tell you that Michael doesn’t know Whistlers’ specific connection to the larger picture.
Journalist: What were your expectations when you originally signed on to play Michael and have you met or surpassed them?
Went: I think it’s safe to say that we have surpassed pretty much everyone’s expectations. There was a lot of chatter first season about how we could get an entire season out of two guys essentially jumping over a brick wall and then, once we did, there was question about how long we could keep the season going now that the boys were outside of a prison; Was the name still relevant. And I think that the 17 minute clip that is now available online has set a lot of fears to rest, any concerns fans might have about the third season being part and partial of the story that we’ve been telling all along. I think it’s a testament to the writers and the actors involved that we’ve managed to create a pretty complex, fantastic universe with a lot of moving parts, a lot of different stories, all of them worth exploring.
Journalist: When you look back at the pilot does it amaze you, at how far you’ve all come?
Went: It does. I think it’s a testament to the kind of stories that are being told successfully on television today that we have audiences who are willing to invest in complex, complicated stories that unfold over not just episodes but seasons and are willing to hang in there for the long haul and it’s for them that we bust our humps each and everyday.
Journalist: Does it get claustrophobic for you doing those tight cell scenes?
Went: I can’t say that it does. I think that part of Prison Break’s winning formula is what happens if you stick a bunch of alpha dogs in a box and shake it and the tighter more confined that box is the better, the richer the drama, the danger, the intensity. I like getting up in Bill Fitchner’s face, I like getting up in Rob Knepper’s face, I think it makes for great TV and it’s a lot of fun for me as an actor.
Journalist: When you first signed on with Paul Sheuring, did he share any ideas beyond the first year?
Went: He sure didn’t! He kept it very,*laughs* very close to the vest. I’ve heard all kinds of rumors swirling around Paul. Some of them were about the show being conceived as a 13 episode arc. I’ve heard that the show was conceived to last 2 seasons or maybe 5. But I think that the story is a work in progress. I think the writers have a general idea of where they’d like us to go but if something happens along the way, something spontaneous, something surprising, they’re certainly willing to stop and smell the roses, to explore the road, on the way to our hopefully very satisfying destination.
Journalist: Is Michael not having a plan to get out this time going to change the way you play the character this year?
Went: Well, that’s the good news about a show like Prison Break is that it’s not a procedural drama; It’s not a show where the only thing different from episode to episode is how the victim was murdered and that’s good news for the actor because it means that your character is constantly evolving, constantly changing. I still believe that Michael is a good man on a hero’s journey but his hands are filthy and the question becomes how far across the line can a good man go before you can no longer call him good. And that’s a really rich, exciting character for me to play. Plus which we have this dangerous new facility, Michael does not have a tattoo, he does not have a big brother to help him out of a jam and I’d like to think that over the course of the past two seasons Michael has become someone to be reckoned with not only from the neck up but now finally, from the neck down.
Journalist: When you started Prison Break, did you know you’d end up back in prison so soon after the break?
Went: *laughs* Well I thought to myself, it’s there in the title so chances are, things will come full circle. What I’m most appreciative of is that there is a reversal in that chain of events where you have Michael on the inside and Lincoln now, the brother, on the outside. I think that boosts things up considerably.
Journalist: Last season you talked about how the brothers were going get to know each other. What do you think will happen to the brothers’ relationship this season?
Went: That’s a great question. I wish I had all the answers for you but (Journalist: I wish you did too!) *laughs* it being TV of course you’re given a road map to where you are but not necessarily to tomorrow or the day after that. What I will say and what has been one of the most fascinating parts of the brother dynamic to me is that in this story about a man trying to free his brother, it’s also a story about a man becoming his own man and that involves letting that brother go. I think Michael is an extreme example of a loving loyal younger brother, who worships his big brother, who would obviously risk life and limb to save that big brother but what he discovered 2nd season was that freeing Lincoln from Fox River State Penn did not automatically mean that the two of them were going to run off and set up a scuba shop on the beach somewhere. Lincoln was a man with his own agendas, his own scores to be settled and Michael had to learn how to let him go and somewhere in that process, learn how to stand on his own two feet.
Journalist: There’s a new prison and a whole new batch of villains; Are you looking forward to that?
Went: I am. A show like Prison Break is only as good as it’s antagonist. Something I’ve said from the very beginning, you can’t have Michael without T-bag, you can’t have T-bag without Michael. And I love the idea that Michael is now behind bars with 3 of his deadliest enemies, Bellick, Mahone and T-bag but you’re also introducing some fascinating new characters like Lechero and Whistler who may or may not be one of the bad guys. And especially on a show like Prison Break where we’re not afraid to kill off the people that you’ve come to care about, it’s important to replenish the stock every once in a while.
Journalist: It’s going to be pretty difficult for anyone to live up to T-bag though right?
Went: I think so. Robert Knepper is an extraordinary actor and has really brought something unique to the show and I think it’s credit to him and to the Universe in which we’re all operating in that even with a character who is a pedophile, serial rapist, who is reprehensible without a doubt, you have moments where you care, moments where you find yourself, against your better judgment, sympathizing. I think his shades of gray are perhaps representative of the shades of gray to be found in every character on the show.
Woman journalist asks about the tattoo.
Went: Michael does have the tattoo but it is now useless unless he has more foresight than I gave him credit for. I think it’s necessary to the development of my character, it happens to dovetail nicely with the story, that he can no longer rely on just his wits, just his cleverness, just his planning and preparation, he has to be someone who can now not only think of his feet but defend himself, and those he loves, with his fists. Prison Break is the story of a white collar intellectual who gets in touch with his darker side, his more violent side, and the question then becomes how can he remain a good person while letting these darker impulses play out.
Woman journalist will not let the tattoo go, bless her. “And so will we see you get it removed or it just won’t play into the story at all?” A woman after my own heart…
Went: *laughing* Does Michael stop off at a Mexican clinic and get it lasered off over the course of 4 or 5 episodes? Ah, I’m not sure that’s in the works… I’d like to think that after they’ve leaped this particular hurdle, if Michael and Lincoln have managed to escape Sona and Panama with their lives that maybe there are one or two treasures still buried in that too. One or two things that Michael can reference as far as allowing them to set up the rest of their lives but of course that’s up to the writers.
Journalist: So, you don’t have to get it put on then, you’re just able to wear the long sleeved shirt. WFW screaming at woman: No Went flesh woman! None! SUCK IT UP!
Went: Yeah, exactly.
Journalist: Are there any cool stunts you can tell us about without spoiling anything?
Went: Let me see here, I will say that the fight from the first episode is one that I look back on with a great deal of pride. I think it really set the tone for how dangerous this new prison world is for Michael and company. It was my good fortune to get to work with a stuntman who had worked on 3 Lord of the Rings films. He really did me a favor in terms of selling *cracking up* Michael’s hard won fighting skills. He really knew how to take a fall, made me look good, for that I’m grateful.
Went knows this next journalist and says “My old friend!” with affection. Awwwwwww
Journalist: Did you do any projects over your hiatus or were you just taking a break?
Went: Actually I spent my hiatus pitching projects. It’s now pretty clear to me that I don’t just love acting, I love storytelling. I want to be a part of that process any way that I can which means maybe sitting in the directors chair or hanging out in the editing room while the footage is being cut together. There was a little feature film project that I had come up with on my own, on the side, over the course of the second season. During the hiatus I had a number of meetings around town with producers and writers trying to test the waters and drum up some interest. Actually the good news is that I potentially have a writer working on the script as we speak.
Journalist: Can you tell us what it’s about?
Went: Briefly, it’s a love story with a Hitchcock kind of twist and it also satisfies my craving to play a bad guy. After playing Michael Scofield for fifty some odd episodes now, the idea of playing someone who is not cool and collected and constantly having to sit on his emotions, to be the one who’s running around with an ax at the end of the movie is tremendously appealing as you can probably imagine.
Journalist: Will you direct and act in it?
Went: I don’t think I’m ready for directing. I’d like to to take a back seat in terms of the writing of the script, to learn more about what it is that goes into crafting a screenplay because I know there’s a formula, I know that there’s a science to it, and that’s something that I’m very curious about.
Journalist: If viewers drifted away during the second season, will they be able to understand what’s going on in the third?
Went: I think so especially since I believe we have the DVD of the second season, perfectly timed in its release, so that people can do their homework and get up to speed but I think in the Prison Break Universe while we do certainly have a lot of shades of gray as I mentioned before, it’s also quite clear who the bad guys are and who the good guys are. Who you should root for and who you’ll come to love to hate and in that sense, I think it’s something that anyone can enjoy even if they’ve never seen a single episode before.