Rick Bentley

Hollywood Notebook: ‘Prison Break’ duo resume criminal ways in ‘Flash;' Dennis Haysbert's new persona

Almost 10 years ago, I sat in a bar talking with Wentworth Miller and Dominic Purcell about their roles in the under-appreciated FOX series “Prison Break.” They played brothers who through an elaborate plan escape from prison and go on the run.

Now, I’m in the same bar at the Langham Huntington Beach Hotel talking to them about playing criminals again.

They aren’t portraying brothers on the under-appreciated CW series, “The Flash,” but they are criminal cohorts as Captain Cold and Heat Wave. Their work is so good, there’s talk the pair will be part of a new comic book-based series for the network.

The actors were excited about the opportunity to work together again because they had become close friends during their days on “Prison Break.”

“He’s like a little brother to me,” Purcell says of Miller. “I have always been very, very protective of him.

“I certainly missed working with him. So when the opportunity came along to work with him again I jumped at the chance because that relationship had been built up with ‘Prison Break.’ ”

The actors immediately felt comfortable together. That was a help because the CW series (which airs 8 p.m. Tuesdays) puts a lot of physical demands on them playing the super villains. They needed all the energy they had to handle the roles.

Miller says the action scenes on “The Flash” are often as hard as working on “Prison Break,” which he calls “an ambitious show. We all tried to do as much stunt work as possible, maybe even times when we shouldn’t have.”

What makes “The Flash” more complicated is all of the computer-generated effects that get added after the acting is done. Miller and Purcell must imagine what their guns, which shoot fire and ice, look like when the battles with The Flash are happening.

Miller laughs and says all he can do is give all he can to a scene and hope when the effects are added, it all looks realistic.

Purcell says he can’t help making a shooting noise when he’s pretending to shoot is heat gun: “It’s hilarious every time I do that.”

“The Flash” is one of the latest in the quickly growing world of TV shows based on comic books.

“I think the comic book genre is growing because it has this feeling of the celebration of difference. There’s the outsider who is tapped for greatness. There’s a question of things having to be hidden that fans can relate to,” Miller says. “It’s got a powerful pull to it.”

Image is everything

Dennis Haysbert has a very interesting character in the new FOX series, “Backstrom” starring former “The Office” star Rainn Wilson. Haysbert plays a very competent detective who also runs a church. This strange mixture makes the character very distinct.

Haysbert could also be a pirate, astronaut and weekend brain surgeon and yet he’d still evoke only one persona: president of the United States.

Curse you, “24.”

Even worse, when he opens his mouth, all I want to do is check to see if I have enough car insurance.

Curse you, Allstate.

Those distractions fade quickly and Haysbert helps pull me into the quirky crime series.

It’s no accident that Haysbert can play a preacher.

“My father was Catholic. My mother’s Baptist. So I grew up in a very religious household.”

He says every time he talks to his 95-year-old mother she asks if he’s reading his Bible.

It’s not just the religious background that helps Haysbert play the role. He’s been to Iraq and Afghanistan five times and that helps him to give each character he plays a military background. That works for every role from president to detective.

“My biggest challenge was to figure out how this cop, a detective sergeant, becomes a pastor as well. And to blend those two, he had to have some trauma in his life. He has to have had some incidents in his life that he’s not so proud of or he needs some absolution from,” Haysbert says. “He understands where Backstrom’s coming from, but not initially.

“Initially if I wasn’t a pastor, I’d probably shoot him in the knees.”

It’s all coming together to make his “Backstrom” role as interesting as his work in other TV projects.

Thank you, “Backstrom.”

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