Fox's Prison Break should be dead and buried now. Originally conceived as a show that would run for a few seasons, the drama's popularity convinced the network to keep the characters locked up and on the run for a third season, with no clear end in sight. One of the reasons Prison Break is a hit is because of Dominic Purcell, who portrays Lincoln Burrows.
The Australian actor originally gained fame as the lead in John Doe and has cemented his status as a television star in Prison Break. With the third season set to premiere next month, TV.com chatted with the chiseled actor about the show, when to ask for an autograph, and advice for people behind bars...and we lived to tell the tale.
TV.com: Let's get right into it. Let's talk about season three. What's the tone going to be like? The first two seasons were very different from each other. And now three is going to have an even different tone?
Dominic Purcell: Yeah, season three is Midnight Express, you know. It starts immediately after the end of season two. We're dealing with a Panamanian prison that doesn't have any rules. It's a lawless society within prison walls.
TV.com: The original concept for prison break had the show ending after a few seasons. Now, because of its popularity, you're heading into season three. How long do you see this show going?
Dominic Purcell: My gut says that the show has got about four or five years. Four or five seasons, so I don't know. But on the other side of it, it's [about] economics. I mean, Prison Break is a phenomenon around the world. So it's up to [Fox chief, Rupert] Murdoch. And then Murdoch might just say, "You know what? This show is making way too much money...may not be doing too well in America, but you know what? It's making billions and billions and billions of dollars around the world. It's staying on the air." So, who knows?
TV.com: You got cast right before the pilot started shooting, right?
Dominic Purcell: About a week, or a weekend, yeah.
TV.com: How did you prepare for the role in such a short time?
Dominic Purcell: Oh, I didn't. I just kind of winged it. Once the pilot got picked up, that's when I started researching. I started to really look into what happens to the guys in death row and how that affects a man, knowing his "use by" date. So that was kind of weird dealing with that.
TV.com: I bet! For those people who actually are in jail--do you have any advice for them? Any survival tips?
Dominic Purcell: You know, it's depends on what jail you go to. If you go into a minimum-security thing, it's not so much of a problem, I don't think. But you know, if you're [in] maximum security, you need to align yourself with gangs. If you're a black guy, you need an alliance of the black guys. The white guy needs [other white guys]. That's just the way it is in there, and if you don't [get aligned], you'll end up getting picked off. It's just dangerous...prison is dangerous. My advice for anyone [is]: Just don't do anything bad. Just don't go in the first place.
TV.com: You're a pretty big dude. How do the fans treat you on the street? Are they a little intimidated? Or do they come right up to you?
Dominic Purcell: No, man, it's funny. I'm not big. I was thick and muscular a couple of years back, but that was for a role I did before I even did the pilot [for Prison Break]. So when people just saw me in the pilot, I was this monster. Then, if you noticed, along the way, I've lost a lot of weight. I'm much more to what my planned weight is now.
But, no, people are cool. People are really kind of appreciative and sweet about the whole thing. And I'm always glad and happy to receive a request [for a photo or autograph], or whatever. I mean, just as long as it doesn't become incredibly intrusive, like I'm having a meal and I've got 10 people in my face. That's when I kind of get a bit pissed, but apart from that, it's all pretty good.
TV.com: Advice noted: You just saved the lives of a few of our readers who are rabid Prison Break fans. You made one of the ultimate sacrifices an actor has to make. For the role of Lincoln Burrows, you shaved your head. Is that going to stick around?
Dominic Purcell: I don't know, man. F***, I'm done with the shaved head. I think we're up to episode five now. Episode 10, I start growing it back. So, I'm looking forward to that. No more bald head.
TV.com: And to wrap things up, what other projects do you have down the line?
Dominic Purcell: I just did a movie with Joe [Schumacher]. A thing called Town Creek. It's a psychological, "knock you cold" thriller. A bit of Lost Boys kind of scene that's going on. It's going to be an awesome movie. I'm playing a soldier who basically gets tortured by this family who had ties to the Nazis and to some extremist cult. And I escape, and I come back, and I just take them out.
TV.com: A lot of escaping for you. You're always on the run.
Dominic Purcell: It is, isn't it? I'm on the run. I'm on the run. That's life for me...I think I'm on the run in life as well.
TV.com: Thanks for speaking with us, Dominic.