Brothers in Arms: Dominic Purcell and Wentworth Miller on Their Return to ‘Prison Break’
Over the course of a dozen years, actors Dominic Purcell (left) and Wentworth Miller have formed a strong partnership, in both the reel and real senses. The duo first worked together as siblings Lincoln Burrows and Michael Scofield in Fox’s action drama Prison Break, which premiered in 2005 and had a four-season run. Cut to 2014, when Miller suggested that Purcell join him for a guest spot on The CW’s The Flash, a reunion that led to the duo working on Flash spinoff DC’s Legends of Tomorrow and now Fox’s nine-episode Prison Break revival. As the formerly-presumed-dead Michael is on the cusp of breaking out of a brutal Yemeni prison over the next few episodes (a clever switch-up of the original series’ premise)—and, as Purcell says, Lincoln “takes it upon himself to muscle up” and rescue him—we catch up with the actors to discuss their brotherly bond, finding projects together and why fans may not have seen the last of Michael and Lincoln.
What was your relationship like between the original series’ conclusion in 2009 and the reunion on The Flash?
Dominic Purcell: We kept in contact via email. Everyone knows we are very close, but it’s that closeness where you don’t have to see your brother every day. It’s that profound.
How was working on Prison Break again versus the other projects?
Wentworth Miller: It was like riding a bike, except you’re 10 years older. [Both laugh.]
Purcell: Ten years uglier!
Miller: I have a level of comfort with Dominic that is hard-earned. We have a shorthand. I get very quickly what he wants and he returns the favor. We can knock out a scene faster than any other two actors I can think of.
What do you think the other brings to the portrayal of your character?
Purcell: Total trust. Wentworth’s the only person on the planet, including directors, who can say to me, “Let’s try…” By no means is Wentworth invasive, but he offers suggestions, and I’m always listening and [willing to] try it. That’s a testament to the respect I have for him as a man and also as an artist. That’s never happened before.
Miller: Michael gets to be vulnerable around Lincoln. They get to laugh together. Sometimes I feel like I’m the big brother in my relationship with Dominic, sometimes I feel [the opposite]. I look at Dominic as a certain model of manhood that is worth examining. And honor, because he’s got the toughness down, but he’s also willing to be vulnerable. That’s something I think is so important, culturally, and also fascinating to watch.
A number of characters who apparently died throughout the original series have been revived. What would it now take for you to believe that someone is actually dead?
Purcell: A head blown off.
Miller: Not just in a box.
Purcell: You have to see the head exploding.
What is their relationship like now?
Purcell: As soon as Lincoln found out that Michael was alive, his life was reborn. I think the bond is deeper now.
The brothers do have two allies besides each other: Lincoln has Yemen-based political activist Sheba (Inbar Lavi), while Michael has fellow inmate Whip (Augustus Prew). What are their takes on the newbies?
Purcell: Lincoln’s reaction to Whip was one of caution: Linc doesn’t trust a whole lot of people—especially someone who’s become very close to Michael.
Miller: Michael’s just happy that Sheba exists. He wants his brother to be happy, whatever that looks like. I did like the Michael/Lincoln/Whip triangle, because Michael is a lone wolf, but he also needs community. It’s interesting and compelling to me that in the absence of his brother, he’s gone and created this fraternal relationship.
Are you guys looking to work together out of the realm of the DC Universe and this series?
Miller: [Jokes] It’s in my contract.
Purcell: It’s a package deal.
Can we expect to see more Prison Break down the road?
[Both men stroke imaginary beards.]
Purcell: That’s all you get.
Miller: I wouldn’t say that the door is closed. I love these characters. I love Dom. If someone comes up with an amazing idea, I’m open to that.
Prison Break, Tuesdays, 9/8c, Fox