The TV Addict and Sarah Wayne Callies in Los Angeles, August 2008
Providing hope to the hundreds, possibly of thousands of television stars who unfortunately found themselves at the wrong end of an enormously gruesome knife, Dr. Sarah Tancredi is back. And at the recent FOX Fall Press Junket, this TV Addict was given the fantastic opportunity to talk to the absolutely luminous, not to mention surprisingly tall Sarah Wayne Callies about what it is like to return to the role that took her out of the library and into the homes of millions of fans around the globe.
What does it feel like to be back on PRISON BREAK this season?
Sarah Wayne Callies: It’s definitely odd from a performance standpoint, because psychologically, my relationship to ‘Sara’ was over. But I’d never come back to a character I put away and resuscitating Sara was a very new and exciting process for me. In a way I consider it great practice because there’s a history in theatre of returning to the same character and bringing something new to the role.
Also, being back at work is great. It’s a really good group of people and it’s always nice to work with people who you trust and with whom you have good relationships with.
Did the media frenzy that followed your character’s apparent beheading last fall surprise you?
Honestly, I’m pretty insulated from all the media attention. I don’t really get any magazines, I don’t have a television and I don’t allow myself to go online and look at those kinds of things. Although my husband does periodically monitor things.
I imagine when you dreamt about become an actress, hours upon hours of interviews didn’t factor into the equation?
Actually, I was going to be a professor. I figured that would be the track I’d take, but I ended up not doing that.
A professor? Talk about a career 180. How did you get off track?
In my senior year of College I did a huge research project that was sort of a prelude to a Ph.D. But after ten weeks of being locked in the little library researching for six months, I thought, this was way too lonely.
WOW! So you then decided to choose the one career where you’re guaranteed to be surrounded by people for the rest of your life!
[Laughs] Not lonely at all! Although I sometimes wish I could lock myself in a small room at the library but that’s just a great cosmic sense of irony for you.
So were you prepared for this side of the business. Attending the Television Critics Association Press Tour, Comic Con and now the Fall Fox Press Junket. How on earth do you the endless amounts [of undoubtedly similar] questions
I sort of look at the whole publicity side of things as a performance unto itself. I’m performing the role of Sarah Wayne Callies. And this public performance isn’t the person that I am, but rather the person that I feel is appropriate to share with the public.
Without spoiling anything, were you surprised with what happened to Michael and Sara in the season premiere?
You’ve seen the first episode? I haven’t! I would love to… Really… [Sarah glances over at a FOX Executive who kindly lets her know that they’ll be happy to get her a copy of the premiere! Insert obvious heads will roll joke!]
I think in a way that was the only way to do it. As soon as fans learned that Sara’s back, they know that Michael will find her. So there isn’t really structurally any suspense in that. So at that point, it can just become manipulative to make the audience wait and wait and wait. I think it’s more interesting to get that under our belts and move on with things that people might not expect.
Would you not agree that the season opener almost acts like a pilot for an entirely different show.
We’re our own spin-off this season which is so exciting. I mean I just got the outline for episode eight and it’s really interesting the kinds of things I’m able to explore this season that Sara’s never gotten near before. I think it would be difficult to be on a show that season after season is a version of the same thing. It would be hard to stay creatively excited about something like that.
Which coincidentally enough is one of the questions I always love to ask actors. How hard is it to play the same character for seasons on end?
If the character doesn’t evolve, yes it’s hard. But thankfully the writers have never put me in that position. Sara changes a lot. She’s also very deeply flawed which is much more interesting than playing a saint. Sara’s choices, especially this season, keep surprising both her and me. So far it’s very interesting.
One of my other favorite questions for actors is if you ever get concerned with being typecast as ‘Dr. Sara Tancredi’ for the rest of your career?
I spent a lot of time training as an actor and I hope and I think that I’ve acquired the tools to play a pretty broad range of things that might surprise certain casting directors, producers and directors who haven’t seen me act. I believe in the open mindedness of the casting directors, producers and directors and believe that if I can get in a room with them, I could show them that I could do anything.
PRISON BREAK returns to FOX [and GlobalTV in Canada] on September 1 with a two-hour premiere starting at 8PM