The haircut that saved Prison Break

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Prison Break is a show carried on the broad, rippling shoulders of the show’s principle cast, the majority of whom are shaven-headed buff dudes with unnaturally piercing eyes. Oddly, at least one of these men only got hired because of a haircut.

The guy we’re talking about is of course Dominic Purcell, a journeyman actor who was mostly famous for playing a Dracula in the third, and arguably shittiest, Blade movie prior to securing a starring role in Prison Break.

Before this Purcell had, had a number of minor and major roles in a series of shows on Fox which allowed the actor to form what has been described as an “amiable” relationship with the network. Thanks to this connection before Prison Break was even a thing, Purcell was fingered for a leading role in the show without even having to audition. In fact, according to some reports Fox straight up just sent him a copy of the script without him even having to ask for it while he was surfing in Hawaii living that big dick life. Ah, to be a struggling actor.

The thing is, although Fox was fairly confident that Purcell was a fit for the show, series creator Paul Scheuring wasn’t so convinced. Especially when Purcell rocked up for his audition to play a hardened criminal who could punch a horse’s dick off looking like this …

You see, at the time Purcell auditioned for Prison Break he had a starring role on a short-lived soap opera set in Hawaii (hence why he was surfing there when he heard about the show) called North Shore. A show notable for being so bad that it ran for only 21 episodes, ended on a cliffhanger nobody gave a shit about and genuinely had a review advising you to watch it without the sound turned on. Why? Because it starred a near-constantly shirtless, pre-Aquaman Jason Momoa, which well, we guess everyone can enjoy.

Like Momoa, Purcell spent most of his time on the show either smouldering or trying to fuck someone’s wife and had the look of, to quote, Scheuring a pretty boy. Which kind of annoyed him because save for the fact he looked like the final boss of a surfing themed Streets of Rage game, he was perfect for the role.

Throwing caution to the wind and realising that he had literally a week to cast someone in the role or Lincoln Burrows, the brother of Michael Scofield or he’d be fucked, Scheuring hired Purcell. Now, as you probably know the character of Scofield is played by Wentworth Miller. AKA, Chris Fucking Redfield from the Resident Evil movies because apparently the entire cast of this show cut their teeth in the most shit-tier projects imaginable.

Like Purcell, Miller wasn’t originally considered for the role until he actually turned up to his audition and owned the role so hard Scheuring was all like, yeah, hire this guy. With both lead characters cast, Scheuring held his breath and hoped that on the day filming began, Purcell would look like slightly less of a shithead. So imagine his surprise when on that fateful day Purcell turned up looking like someone had carved a gorilla out of alabaster.

As it turns out, Purcell had seen the writing on the wall with North Shore and figured that Prison Break was his chance to attach his name to a show where he didn’t need to take his shirt off all the time. Wanting to make as good an impression as possible upon securing the role of Lincoln Burrows Purcell scrubbed off his fake tan and shaved his head, at which point everyone realised, holy shit, he and Miller looked almost exactly alike.

A fact that helped sell the fact that both men were brothers within the context of the show and something critics loved. Scheuring himself would later note that the startling physical resemblance between the two actors was like “bottling lightning” and credits it as one of the reasons the show was a success. Or to put it another way, one of the reasons there’s like five fucking seasons of Prison Break is because the lead actor shaved his head.