When Wentworth Miller needs inspiration for his character on Fox's Prison Break, he just takes a look at the fortresslike limestone walls surrounding him.
There's nothing made-for-TV about them. Much of the adventure-drama about a man, played by Miller, trying to break his wrongfully convicted brother out of prison is filmed at the Joliet Correctional Center.
The prison, which was built mostly by convict labour in the 1850s, last held inmates in 2002. But the claustrophobic cells, rusty steel bars, guards' turrets, and stone floor engravings with sayings such as "It's never too late to mend," imbue the complex with an atmosphere the actors describe as haunting, ominous and depressing.
"The prison helps a great deal in keeping me grounded in the character," said Miller, whose Michael Scofield character is a structural engineer with the prison's blueprints tattooed all over his body. "When you're surrounded by three-foot thick walls, you really understand how impossible his task is." ( read on...Collapse )