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Prison Break Is Back! Sarah Wayne Callies Spills the Goss

Sarah Wayne Callies, a.k.a. Dr. Sara Tancredi, gave us the scoop on what's in store for the series' juicy revival

(Photo: Devin Dygert)

(Photo: Devin Dygert)

Nearly eight years after Prison Break went off the air, the hit series is back. Premiering April 4 on City, the nine-episode revival, which largely takes place in Yemen, takes us on an adventure that no one saw coming (spoiler alert: hottie Michael Scofield is still alive). We caught up with Hawaiian-raised Sarah Wayne Callies, who plays Dr. Sara Tancredi, to get the scoop on what’s in store for the fifth season.

Prison Break ended in 2009. That’s a long time to put something to bed then be like, “Jokes! We’re back!” Did you have any suspicions that a reboot was in the works?

I had no suspicions! In this business, it really only makes sense to look forward and not back. What was interesting to me is that probably one out of every two people who stop me to talk about a project that I’m on want to talk about Prison Break. For a show that had been off the air for so long, that wasn’t something I’d necessarily would have expected. What I learned was that quite a lot of people found it after the show went off the air. I think we’ve actually built an audience in the last seven years rather than lost it.

Were you hesitant about signing on to do the revival season?

Like any new project—and this was a new project—you have to start with the script. I have a tremendous sense of responsibility to the Prison Break fans because they have been phenomenal to me, and I wouldn’t come on until I read the first episode. I wanted to make sure that we were doing something that deserved their time.

Some fan favourites (Michael Scofield!) are back this season. Who is your fave cast member to work with?

Paul Adelstein [agent Paul Kellerman] has one of the driest senses of humour ever. He just keeps me in stitches; he’s viciously smart and the funniest people are often the smartest. There’s something about our dynamic that I’ve always loved, and we’ve had such a long trajectory together—from him being my gay friend in AA, to him drowning me in a bathtub, and to me trying to kill him. It’s been a very long, strange trip together.

(Photo: Devin Dygert)

(Photo: Devin Dygert)

What else can people expect this season?

They can expect what we gave them before, which is to say that every season is completely different. This is a show where its strength is that it evolves and reinvents itself. We’ve grown as actors and we’ve grown as characters. And, like with every year, there’s a whole new cast of people that you’ve never seen before.

A lot of fans get attached to characters, and they see actors as those characters. On The Walking Dead, when you played Lori Grimes, a lot of people didn’t like her, and you got flak for it. What is that like to have that type of  response?

It runs the gamut. One of the things that’s interesting about social media is that fans form their own communities. People sound off about something that touches a personal nerve for them, and they feel the need to vent it out in a public forum, and my social media becomes that forum. There are other voices going, “Dude she’s an actor! What are you talking about? Just calm down!” It’s remarkable to see those kind of dialogues. It’s an interesting paradox as an actor. As a person, you should develop a thick skin and not let it get to you. Yet my job as an actor requires me to not have a thick skin; it requires me to be open and to really embrace everything that’s coming at me. I mean, I have emotions for a living.

You’re working on The Long Road Home, a miniseries based off the nonfiction book about the Iraq war. Do you have to tap into a different head space when you’re retelling history?

It’s a very different role for me, and I’m grateful for it and I’m intimidated by it. One of the things that really struck me about the script is that this is a story about a war that is populated with a huge number of really fascinating, well-rounded characters because it echoes back to the wives and the children on base and the sisterhood that they form with one another. The first scenes that I shot were with Kate Bosworth, and she’s a tremendous actor. We were talking about how thrilling and fulfilling it is to be working on a job where almost all of our scenes are with other women. This feels very different than any other story about a battle that I’ve seen or read. It’s was exciting to work with this crew of badass girls.

You live in B.C. What do you love most about living in Canada?

The first thing that made B.C. feel like home is that like Hawaii, it is a place of absolutely indescribable natural beauty. My first job in Vancouver was 12 years ago, and the population of the city would drop dramatically on the weekend because everyone was hiking, or skiing, or on boat. It’s a place where people love the mountains and the ocean as much as they did where I grew up. My daughter was born in Canada, so I’m raising little Canadians as I was raised as a little Hawaii girl, and I’m really proud of it.

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