'Prison Break' Works Around Departed Actors


If you're wondering about the big conspiracy behind "Prison Break," you should maybe tune into ABC this fall.

Two of the prime movers behind the plot that framed Lincoln Burrows (Dominic Purcell) for murder have regular roles on ABC shows in the fall, Patricia Wettig on "Brothers & Sisters" and John Billingsley on "The Nine." (Camille Guaty, who had a recurring role as Sucre's (Amaury Nolasco) girlfriend, is also on "The Nine.")

The show's producers, though, don't see the absence of the two being a big obstacle for "Prison Break's" second season.

"John Billingsley, as far as we know, was never actually on the show," jokes series creator Paul Scheuring about Billingsley, who played the not-really-dead, supposed victim in the Burrows case. "You never really see his face."

Jeff Perry ("Grey's Anatomy," "Nash Bridges") will take over Billingsley's role as the brother of Wettig's now-President Caroline Reynolds. Scheuring also says that Wettig is "not out of the picture yet."

That said, though, the conspiracy thread will recede some in the show's opening episodes, which will focus on the nationwide manhunt for Lincoln, his brother Michael Scofield (Wentworth Miller) and the rest of the escapees. The show is shooting the new season in Dallas, which will double for various parts of America as the escapees scatter to pursue their own ends.

As Scheuring puts it, "In the early part of the season, it's really going to be much more about the immediacy of having to get the hell away from the pursuit."

As with season one, the coming season of "Prison Break" will take place in a compressed period of time, with each episode covering only a day or two. And now that the escapees are outside the prison walls, Michael may have to cede some of his authority over the group.

"You're going to see a dynamic -- a subtle shift in dynamics between the brothers," Scheuring says. "In a lot of ways [in season one], Lincoln was in a box. He couldn't do much, and Michael really had to kind of save him. Now we're out in the streets of the world, and that's kind of more of Lincoln's forte."

Purcell adds that he's more than happy to be out of that box. "The exciting thing for me, and I'm sure Went, is exploring, as actors, the relationship between Lincoln and Michael before they were incarcerated. And that's going to be refreshing," he says.

"Just to see Lincoln smile, just to see Michael laugh at something Lincoln has done, I mean, that's huge. We discussed that in [an episode] that we just shot. And there's a moment where Lincoln's laughing, you know. And last year it was hard for me because I was incarcerated, and I got bored, as an actor, towards the end there. It was just -- there's only so many times you can walk around in a cell."

"Prison Break" begins its second season on FOX Monday, Aug. 21.

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