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Cast & crew discuss the Odyssey-inspired revival of Prison Break

03.31.2017

After four seasons of breaking out (and in) of a variety of locations, the adventures of Michael (Wentworth Miller), Lincoln (Dominic Purcell), Sara (Sarah Wayne Callies), T-Bag (Robert Knepper) and the rest came to an end, or did they? Fox announced plans to revive Prison Break several years ago and the first episode of the new season is nearly upon us, which will pick up seven years later as clues begin to surface that Michael may not be dead after all.

Much of the cast and crew gathered at the Paley Center for Media in Beverly Hills this week to discuss the series and they spoke with Entertainment Weekly about getting the gang back together, the inspiration behind the new season and if there will be more.

Prison Break creator Paul Scheuring on how important it was to bring back the original cast:

It was critical. You can be bold and think that you can do it without the originals, that maybe you can reset with a different lead, but they were integral to the whole thing. Using J.J. Abrams’ approach — he brought Star Wars back, bringing back some of the old players like Harrison Ford and Carrie Fisher, and yet complimenting them with some new talent — that was really the model here and so we brought back most of the principles, but then also introduced some new characters

On whether the series will be accessible to new fans as well as old:

At the early stages, there was this constant network concern that new fans would not understand it. At the end of the day, shows like Prison Break or X-Files, they do have a legacy. I didn’t make a concerted effort to reset so that the new fans could understand because one of the other things is everybody can catch up online or OnDemand. The critical thing was that the audience could recognize this show and say, “Prison Break is back!”

Wentworth Miller added that he thinks it's possible to watch and understand the new season without having seen the previous seasons, saying "[you'll] enjoy it for what it is, but the viewing pleasure will certainly be deepened if you’re familiar with the original." One thing's for sure, the series will be even more fast-paced than the original seasons as the nine-episodes will leave no room for filler. "We move at a break neck speed," said Miller. "If Prison Break was airing today for the first time, it probably would be a limited series on cable."

On how Scheuring looked to "The Odyssey" for inspiration:

[The reboot is] ­ultimately a story about somebody coming back to life. I went back and read The Odys­sey again and it’s exactly that: Odysseus fell off the map for seven years after the Trojan War and was presumed dead. He resurfaced again under an assumed name, Outis, in a foreign land called Ogygia. Breaking out of prison is only the start [for Michael], because then you’re still in a war zone, you’re still in a country run by ISIS. Part of the mystery of why Michael’s in that prison is who he “got in bed with” that landed him there. This is a retelling of the Odyssey with Michael as Odysseus and you have to remember all of the varied villains that Odysseus encountered on that trip back to Ithaca.

As for whether we might see more Prison Break if this limited-series is a success, no one wanted to rule it out, but Scheuring said that "it’s a closed-ended story for me" before adding that "part of the problem with the original show was that we had to keep flapping our wings and keep extending. I feel like the fans suffered for that, because as some point, you run out of narrative and you start making up stuff that’s lesser quality." Judging by their comments, it seems that Prison Break will reach a definite conclusion by the time these nine-episodes wrap up, with Wentworth Miller saying that the ending will feel "right and earned and satisfying," but that it's possible more stories could be told.

Prison Break will return to Fox on April 4, 2017.

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