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Wentworth Earl Miller III

Wentworth Earl Miller III



Friday, January 6, 2012

Wentworth Miller: A night at the Paley Center

As I mentioned in a previous blog of mine Went was extremely busy with other activities while filming Prison Break. [She laughs.]  Yes the man was busy … very busy indeed as he had to attend various functions and of course who could forget the Paley Center event.  Unfortunately I couldn't make the event [she sighs], so I found this very interesting article about it for you all to read.  I hope you enjoy it as much as I did.

On Monday, October 27th, The Paley Center for Media hosted a night with the creative team behind Prison Break. After a screening of the most recent episode "Greatness Achieved," Wentworth Miller, Robert Knepper, Amaury Nolasco, Wade Williams and Sarah Wayne Callies, along with Executive Producer Matt Olmstead, sat down and gabbed about the show in front of a packed house of fans. Taking questions from both the moderator, TV Guide's Executive Editor Craig Tomashoff, and members of the audience, the panel discussed everything from the evolution of the show to the acting process to their favorite moments from the past four years.

Those fans that were lucky enough to nab tickets for the sold-out event were also fortunate enough to watch "Greatness Achieved" a full week before the rest of the clamoring public. "Greatness" originally was supposed to air on the 27th, but the episode was pre-empted until this week due to the World Series. Everyone there got an extra special treat by seeing Wade William's character, Brad Bellick, meet his demise at the hands of a flooding pipe - a heroic and sacrificial death for a character with less than admirable attributes. Now that the episode has finally aired, we can air out these words of both sadness and satisfaction from the cast of Prison Break.

First on the chopping block was Wade Williams himself - a man who seemed to find peace in the fact that his role as Bellick had ended. The hyper aggressive role of Bellick had made an impactful psychological stamp on his soul. He really seemed to enjoy his exit. "I think it's great. He was such a jerk for most of the time, so it's nice to see him go with a little redemption. He does something selfless, which is nice." said Williams.

On a show where death has meant very little, could we assume that Bellick was truly gone? "No he ain't comin' back," Williams said. "It was time to go. We all gotta go sometime. It's been a nice long gig. Three and a half years. It was a steady gig for an actor, which can be a bit of an oxymoron."

Kevin Parry/The Paley Center for Media.

I got the feeling throughout the night that even the actors were a bit confused about the direction the Prison Break has taken over the years. There was a strange mix of both confidence in the writers and a underlying feeling that the show had pushed itself a bit past its original creative investment. A combination of confidence and peril. "I don't watch it," Williams stated. "I never have. I just do the show, you know. I enjoy being a part of that process, but I don't ever watch it. It never comes out the way you envisioned it. I'll watch it sometimes, about a year later when it's out on DVD and by then I've forgotten what I thought it was gonna look like. So when I watch it then, it doesn't piss me off."

With regards to his own character demise, Williams added "I figure that with Bellick...they should have gotten rid of him after the first season. To go three and a half years, I feel really grateful. It's always nice to get a heroic send off."

Robert Knepper was up next - a very genial fellow with a love for acting. Outgoing and charming, Knepper was almost the polar opposite of the character he plays, T-Bag. When asked how he felt about the episode he that was about to be shown to the fans, Knepper responded "I have no idea which episode is airing, because I don't get a chance to watch them. I get so lost because you know, we're filming a couple episodes ahead of the ones on TV."

Kevin Parry/The Paley Center for Media.
After finding out that the episode was the one where his fellow cast member Wade Williams gets axed he responded with a bit of genuine warmth. "I called Wade up when I read the script and I was like 'man, it's been an amazing ride with you.' But what about Knepper's thoughts of his own character, T-Bag, getting killed off? "There's a part of me as well that just goes 'it's great to have a steady gig, but it's hard to keep going.' This season is hopeful because so much has changed. But if we were still in a prison...You know last season ended up looking like I was going to head of this prison. Todos somos eguales, todos somos eguales. They said, let's just cut forward in time. T-Bag's escaped. Sucre's escaped. Bellick's escaped. Let's just move on. That would have been rough, if I'd stayed in prison.

At this point, Sarah Wayne Callies had made her way over to us. Knepper, possibly just as much of a fan of her return to the show as the crowd waiting inside the auditorium, decided to grab a recorder and conduct his own interview with her. He even stepped over into the press trench with us to do it.

Robert Knepper: Has anyone ever asked you how cool it is to play a character that has your name?

Sarah Wayne Callies: It's awful. When you're walking down the street and someone goes "T-Bag!" and you know, 'Okay this isn't someone I know. Let's address this person with the T-Bag face.' Or something slightly less scary than the T-Bag face. I don't know that. When somebody says "Sarah!" and I turn around and go "Hey!....heeeeey. You're a scary person with a camera and I don't know you.
Knepper: Were you offered this part, or did you audition?

Callies: I auditioned for this part.

Knepper: Did you have any idea when you started working on this that you would have your head cut off?

Callies: The head coming off. That didn't surprise me. It was coming back that was a surprise.

Another surprise for Sarah? The heroin addiction. "When I went in to do the pilot I was talking to (creator) Paul Scheuring and told him 'Hey, so I wrote this character bio,' not realizing what a big dork I was because I was pretty much straight out of Grad School," Callies said. "And I was like 'I think it would be great if she were an alcoholic, because she's such a good person and it would be great if she had a past.' He literally said nothing to me. He was like 'uh huh, thanks.' I heard nothing until the episode and I was like...dude...narcotics? And I went out and watched Rush. And Requiem for a Dream.

Kevin Parry/The Paley Center for Media.

Callies also weighed in on losing Williams as a cast member. "I'm so upset about that. He was a wonderful human being. I mean, for him, it's nothing but good. He'll just have a brilliant career and leave the rest of us in the dust, but we'll miss him."

Does she feel confident that her character is safe now? "You know, I feel like the credibility for Sara being in peril is probably stretched about as far as it can go," Callies admitted. "It's something, to be honest, that was never a worry, because you kind of sign on to shows like this knowing you're gonna die. This isn't going to end like a Shakespearean comedy with like four weddings or people singing."

Callies had a bit of a scoop with regards to the "Company" storyline. "I just read episode 15 and the writers did something kind of brilliant where there's a twist and all of a sudden you realize 'what if (taking down The Company) is not worth doing? What if these are not the bad guys?"

Following this lead, the question about episode 15 was posed to Executive Producer Matt Olmstead. Was everything that we knew about The Company about to get turned around? "This card that we're turning in 15 is something that we'd kind of talked about in certain conversations, at certain lengths, last season." Olmstead said. "But it was something that was out there, who knows, maybe we could address it. And now that the season is really hitting a critical mass, we want something to really...you know. The Company is still The Company, definitely.

IGN: Will they find a new enemy to fight?

Matt Olmstead: No, it's just different people within The Company.

IGN: Rogue operatives?

Olmstead: Yes, exactly.

When asked about the body count on Prison Break, Olmstead commented on the episode that was being shown to the fans. "It's tough because, let's see, Wade, his character, theoretically, he wouldn't have made it out of Fox River, but because...it's a credit to the actor really, that here we are in season four and I know that he knows, that as an actor we appreciate his efforts. So it goes back to the very beginning of the show, which is, if you're going to have any credibility as a show like Prison Break, people have to get, they have to catch a shank, essentially, otherwise you're saber-rattling, to mix metaphors."

IGN: And I would assume that the deaths themselves would have to mean something.

Olmstead: Yeah, exactly. And the great thing about when you're in season four is that there are huge dividends in terms of the emotional ramifications of losing a character.

IGN: Wade said that he was very satisfied to go out in a heroic manner.

Olmstead: When that character had to go, he really had to go out on a high note...which had much to do with Wade as anything else. To give the character some dignity. But it was very strange in that when he filmed his last scene, we went down, it was kind of a surprise, to the sound stage. He walked out, and didn't know it, but there's everybody, balloons. It was very emotional. The editors put together a 10 minute reel where you really see all the roles he played. From a guard, to a bounty hunter to being in his underwear in a Panamanian prison. It was a real tribute to, not only his talent, but to see how far that character had come.

As far as more deaths this season? Yes. But when it came to naming "who," Olmstead was both telling and evasive. "Someone you know...and maybe love."

During the Q & A session with Olmstead and the cast, Wentworth Miller was asked about how he felt about acting on a show that changes its themes so frequently. "It's the nature of the beast. We're kind of flying by the seat of our pants and the writers are there for us if we need them," Miller answered. "If I have a question about how to play a particular scene and I know it's going to have some serious impact on my character somewhere down the road, obviously Matt and the writers are there for me."

Kevin Parry/The Paley Center for Media.

Tomashoff then asked the panel how they felt about what their characters had become, especially Sara, since she was...no longer dead.

Callies: Well, we're not known for our credibility. (big laugh). I said this earlier, and I might regret saying it again but "f*ck credibility." I think what's exciting is that we check that balance out all the time. We find the line, and sometimes we find it because we're over it. But that's exciting. It means we're not doing the same show over and over again. It means that you have to pay attention and that's more creative to me.

Knepper: One of the great things about our show is that when you look back...I mean think back. I don't look back. But when you think back to season one of our show, and then to two, three and now four. To watch all of us physically and mentally change. What we've done. What the writers have done and given us. I'm so proud of all of us and what we've done as an ensemble. There are so many amazing moments.

The inevitable question was posed to the cast about how long they thought the show could go on for?

Wentworth Miller: You know, Dominic and I have decided to retire any question with regards to how long we think the show could go on. I think, at this point in the game, the actors have trust in the writers that they can move us and keep things fresh and interesting and believable, within the very specific universe that we've established. And in light of the fact that we've spent the last four years entertaining fans all around the world on a very consistent basis, I no longer feel that we need to justify our continued existence.

In the end, the cast did seem liked they truly enjoyed working with one another, despite the mixed emotions they presented with regards to the show's twisting and turning of the screws. Miller had nothing but kind things to say about the newly departed - Wade Williams.

Miller: Sometimes it's hard. I love Wade very much, but our characters are constantly supposed to be at each other's throats. And I can remember very specifically certain scenes where he's supposed to be intimidating me and growling and such in my face, and I'll be twisting my fingers into my side to keep from laughing. Because I know he's a big old pussycat.

Cast Members of TV series Prison Break: Amaury Nolasco, Robert Knepper, Wade Williams, Sarah Wayne Callies, Wentworth Miller with executive producer Matt Olmstead at Paley Center for Media, Beverly Hills, California
Date 21 October 2008(2008-10-21)

And of course here are some of the videos taken from the event … I chose the ones of Went speaking as he is of course the main event and mesmerising to watch and to listen to …

I love this one.  Went looks so sweet when he gets coy doesn't he?  Went you're not the only one who has a favourite comic character. Mine is "Betty Boop".  I'm so glad that you let "Charlie Brown" out of the cupboard 'cause this gives me the opportunity to share my little secret with you too!  [She laughs.]

Wow how's that for a creative genius?  What a great ending, at least in Went's scenario Michael doesn't die.  I prefer your idea Went to the original.

Yes the villains in Prison Break were very well portrayed.  They really added tension and excitement to the show.

It appears that Went loves to play dramatic roles.  Yeah there's nothing better than to let all the emotions out there Went.  [She laughs and cries at the same time. As you can read I'm speaking from experience.]

Definitely sounds like the cast had a lot of fun on set.  I enjoyed "The Odd Couple" bit ...

Yes we remember that stint you pulled Went, "on the back of that Dinosaur!"

This video is so lovely. Wade Williams is so funny.   I love the way Robert Knepper and Wade William's describe Went's boyish laugh and his adorable sense of humor.  There's nothing more attractive than a man with a good sense of humor don't you think? 

Sarah's so sweet ... it really must have been tough working amongst all the men.  I picked up all through the videos that Robert Knepper and Wade Williams are very fond of Went.  Come to think of it, who isn't.  He's such a gentleman.  Wade Williams does seem to be a pussycat ... just love the way Went pat's Wade on the leg and calls him that. 

I've come to the end my blog and I'd like to thank you all for spending a night with me at the Paley Center. I look forward to sharing more of Went’s adventures with you soon.  Goodbye!

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