Miller photographed by Andrew Horovitz
on September 25, 2011
|Born||Wentworth Earl Miller III
June 2, 1972
Chipping Norton, England
|Residence||Vancouver, British Columbia|
|Alma mater||Princeton University|
My first gig in the business was a guest star on 'Buffy the Vampire Slayer,' so I'm neck deep in sci-fi. It's been a very good genre to me.
There has to be a measure of faith. That's what this business is all about: trusting in something that may never show up, that you have no concrete proof of.
Four months of preparation and about 12 hours of shooting turned into about 30 seconds of screen time.
They told me at the end of that test that they wanted me to be a part of this project. I walked out and had a moment of clarity where I thought, not many people will ever have this moment.
Prison Break is so far-fetched, I had to make viewers believe that Michael is capable of making the impossible possible.
This role is more visible, and I grew up without a lot of that sort of modeling so I'm relieved and proud to have done this film.
I acted all the way up until Princeton. It was just one of my favorite extracurricular activities. Then I got to Princeton and had a really conservative vibe. All my friends were planning on law school, med school, or Wall Street, and suddenly acting seem like a really risky proposition.
You're confronted with the quandary: do I grind things to a halt? Ideally you would, but I have better things to do than educate people.
I broke my nose in gym when a ball hit me. I took a girl to her debutante ball the next week wearing a tux and a big, honking bandage. Not the romantic night she had in mind.
A racial community provides not only a sense of identity, that luxury of looking into another's face and seeing yourself reflected back, but a sense of security and support.
I worked with the same trainer that worked with Denzel Washington in THe Hurricane. It was three months of training, five days a week, 4 to 5 hours a day. This was followed by a month of choreography.
You have to love what you do, and you have to need it like you need air. And there's nothing else that would give me the same degree of satisfaction as acting, which is why I can't walk away from it.
I'm very pleased with being a part of the Bean Pole family. It's a relationship that makes sense to me. I'm very pleased to have my name associated with Bean Pole Jeans.
My encounters with racism are sort of second-hand situations where I might be standing around with a group of white friends and someone makes a comment that they wouldn't make at my family reunion.
I surrender the idea of having some kind of control over the arc of my career a lot of the time because you never know what tomorrow's going to bring.
I've been spoiled by this project. I was given the script and went in to read, realizing that this was a powerful story and one that wasn't told very often.
I want to aspire to something like what Denzel Washington does, which is try to find scripts written for white actors – or Jodie Foster, who reads scripts for male actors.
I feel as though we're living in a time where there is very little distinction paid between the personal and the professional.
My definition of cool is finding your own definition of cool and not necessarily taking your lead from what other people tell you or from what you might read from magazines or see on TV.
It's the way the business works, you're not just an actor, you're a diplomat and a publicist and a politician, and there are certain expectations.
I have to laugh internally when I'm asked in interviews what nightspots I like to hit. I just don't have answers… so sometimes I make them up.
I've never read a book or attended a class on screenwriting. I'm not opposed to the idea, but I like what I've got going on naturally and want to protect that. The one question I will ask myself as I'm re-reading a script for the 60th time is, 'Am I entertained? Still?' If the answer is 'yes,' I'll assume other people will be, too.
I've never seen American Idol but I am grateful to them. That show is one of Fox's biggest moneymakers, and some of that money goes to pay for shows like Prison Break. Simon Cowell's been signing my paychecks and for that I say thanks.
I'm a very competitive person, but competitive with myself. I want to be the best that I can be, and if that means that I'm eventually better than everyone else, then so be it. But I don't go around comparing and contrasting myself with other actors if I can help it. It's also, I think, the key to my success.
There's nothing the Internet can tell me about myself that I don't already know. The rest is foolishness and people killing time.
I noticed that I got a better space in the line in Starbucks when I had my tattoo. People associate tattoos with a certain edge. Then I open my mouth, and something completely different comes out.
I spend my weekends sleeping and watching DVDs, and eating at restaurants within a 2-block radius of my apartment.
When I got to college, acting suddenly seemed like a very risky proposition and all my friends were going to law school or med school or Wall Street.
Growing up, I was a target. Speaking the right way, standing the right way, holding your wrist the right way. Every day was a test, and there were a thousand ways to fail, a thousand ways to betray yourself, to not live up to someone else's standards of what was accepted, of what was normal.
I'm one of those actors who's going to have to create a space for themselves. It's very easy to be the young Tom Cruise, because Hollywood knows what to do with you. But if you're someone who's bringing someone slightly left of center to the table, you're not a sure thing.
In my career as an actor, there is a catchphrase that Scofield always says often in regards to his brother, 'Have a little faith.' In my own career as an actor, there were times when I was the only one who believed in myself in the face of the odds.
Prison has a universal fascination. It's a real-life horror story because, given the right set of circumstances, anyone could find themselves behind bars.
I didn't come to Hollywood to get on magazine covers or start my Porsche collection or to enjoy that kind of lifestyle, to go to the right parties and meet the right people.
There's so much we can't express in our day-to-day interaction with people because it's considered inappropriate. And acting is all about being inappropriate.
It was just expected that I would go to college. Both my parents are teachers and they tolerated acting, but I was going to go to a school of quality or bust. Which made my downshifting back to acting afterward a little difficult.
I'm kind of a dork. I don't have much game. I'm not particularly comfortable in bars or clubs. I much prefer being home playing Scrabble, having dinner with a couple friends, going to see a movie, or losing a whole weekend to Season 14 of Law and Order or The Simpsons.
Acting was something I needed like air. It wasn't something I could walk away from.
Nobody's ever asked me to pay for a meal before I've eaten it, I've never been pulled over just because I was driving the wrong kind of car in the wrong kind of area at the wrong time of night.
My father is black and my mother is white. Therefore, I could answer to either, which kind of makes me a racial Lone Ranger, caught between two communities.
A great book provides escapism for me. The artistry and the creativity in a story are better than any drugs.
I think it's a very dangerous game to play when you assume that just because someone's an entertainer, they're automatically a role model. Entertainers are there to entertain. They aren't there to teach your children the lessons that you haven't bothered to teach them at home yourself. They're just doing their own version of entertaining.
My character in 'Prison Break' needs to be formidable. In reality, I'm not very tough at all.
I made a decision not to work out because I'm lazy and also, the character is not a superhero. I didn't want him to be a buff guy with Jackie Chan moves because the point is he's smarter than your average Joe.
I think what you learn, working on a film or TV set, is how to tune certain things out. You've got 60-100 people swirling around you, each of them with a very important job to do.
If I were to wait only for roles that clarify my racial makeup, I'd be waiting for a very, very long time.
I've never tried writing at a coffeehouse. I just know instinctively it's not for me.
I had a brief experience in the food industry. I was a bus boy in a Mexican restaurant in Arizona, scraping re-fried beans off people's plates. It teaches you a bit of humility and the importance of a good deodorant.
I know what it takes to go from the point where someone's looking at a newspaper article, and thinking, 'Oh, this would make a great TV series,' to the point where you're actually on a set and there's a camera aimed at someone.
Michael Scofield is someone everyone can relate to, but nobody would want to be in his shoes.
When I've had my periods of unemployment, I'll get these e-mails from my father: 'I've read that the LAPD has a reservist program. Perhaps that's something you'd be interested in taking a look at.'
Confidence is at the root of so many attractive qualities, a sense of humor, a sense of style, a willingness to be who you are no matter what anyone else might think or say and it's true, I do have a certain fondness for women that have dark hair.
I'm hoping that what I am or what I'm not ethnically doesn't limit me in anyone else's eyes. I guarantee you it doesn't in mine.
The mail amazes me. I sometimes get these letters that are ten pages, and handwritten, from women pouring their hearts out and, for security reasons, I can only respond with a headshot and 'Dear so and so, be good. WM.' It never feels like enough.
My family put a lot of emphasis on homework, so there weren't too many comic books or video games for me, when I was growing up.
I have very high expectations of myself. I'm a very competitive person but competitive with myself. I want to be the best that I can be and if that means that I'm eventually better than everyone else then so be it.
To be honest, I find going out pretty scary and intimidating. Got all those people checking you out, with only one purpose: hooking up. I'm quite the dork, I'd rather sit home and play Scrabble. But that doesn't get you a girl, does it?
I certainly learned how to break down a text at Princeton, which helps me break down a script – or at least that's the line I feed my parents when they start wondering where all that good money went.
An actor's job is to embrace emotions and situations that in real life we spend all of our time running away from.
Entertainers are there to entertain. They aren't there to teach your children the lessons that you haven't bothered to teach them at home yourself.
There'll be moments when I'm out in the prison yard, chatting with the cast and the crew, getting ready to shoot a scene. And then I'll remember if I were actually an inmate, I'd only be out there an hour. The other 23 hours of the day, I'd be in my cell. It's kind of a downer.
I feel extremely lucky, extremely grateful, and a little bittersweet, too.
I hadn't worked for a year when I had my Prison Break audition and it was the easiest audition I've ever had. I got the script on Friday, went to the audition on Monday and got the part on Tuesday. I was shooting the pilot a week later. I didn't have time to be nervous – it happened so quickly.
I think there's something about evil that is thoughtless and relentless and incredibly frightening because it can't be reckoned with, reasoned with or stopped.
I wanted to be involved in TV and film in some capacity, so a compromise, because acting seemed unrealistic, and so risky, was to get into the production side. And it was a really fortunate, smart move looking back on it, because it gave me perspective on another side of the business.
Professionally speaking, the proudest moment was when I booked the 'Human Stain.' I knew it had Nicole Kidman, Anthony Hopkins, Ed Harris and Gary Sinise on board, and the director Robert Benton was an academy award winner for 'Kramer vs Kramer.'