Wentworth Miller addresses Prison Break’s failures in queer representation after quitting show

Prison Break actor Wentworth Miller

Wentworth Miller has addressed the fallout of his public departure from Prison Break, questioning the lack of real queer representation on the show.

The out actor opted to walk away from the Fox action-drama that gave him his best-known role ahead of the planned sixth season, explaining earlier this month that he no longer wishes to play straight men.

In a follow-up Instagram post this week, Miller addressed fans who suggested his character on the show, Michael Scofield, could simply have come out as gay and started hooking up with sexually-ambiguous redeemed villain T-Bag – despite much of the plot hinging on his romance with wife Sara Tancredi.

Wentworth Miller: ‘People deserve better representation from fast food TV’

He wrote: “I saw dozens of comments suggesting Michael leave Sara for T-bag. Or that T-bag will be “looking” for Michael/me.

“Is it possible, to some folks, T-Bag = ‘gay’ rep on PB? Maybe the ONLY rep on TV in their part of the world? Forget the homophobes + zealots (bec f**k them) – for the queer kids, the queer adults who will never come out bec coming out = death in their part of the world… is T-bag the best they can expect?”

Prison Break actors Robert Knepper, Sarah Wayne Callies and Wentworth Miller, who play T-Bag, Sara and Michael, in 2006

Prison Break actors Robert Knepper, Sarah Wayne Callies and Wentworth Miller, who play T-Bag, Sara and Michael, in 2006 (Michael Buckner/Getty)

He continued: “Hollywood is never not sending messages. IMO. Even when we don’t think what we’re watching has A Message, messages are being sent. About gender, sex, race, dating, power, politics… a lot of folks in Hollywood don’t want to accept this. How fast – how far – their stories fly.”

Noting a comparison between mass-produced action shows and fast food, Miller added: “Are fast food shows Hollywood’s best chance to send messages that evolve/expand, add nutrition to less-than-ideal diets?

“If so, I’d argue those shows become MORE important, not less. Deserve more respect. Nuance. Intention. Better representation. Because their audiences do too.”

Prison Break actor says he ‘became his own jailer’ by playing straight on TV

In a previous post, Miller spoke about the pressure he felt to “erase” his gayness while working on Prison Break.

He said: “Am I saying gay actors (gay men, specifically) should only play gay parts? No. I was speaking for myself. At this point in my life/career, it’s what feels interesting, inspiring, right.

PB was challenging, onscreen and off. Did anyone involved tell me, explicitly, to bury my gayness for the show’s sake? No.

“Had I already received enough messaging from Hollywood/the larger culture/the schools I went to/my family of origin such things go unspoken lest you risk punishment, losing rights/privileges? Yes.

“One of the ironies of the closet is I became my own jailer. Prison Break indeed.”

He added: “I haven’t spent my career on Pose and Looking. Didn’t work out that way. What I’ve done is a lot of action-adventure, and that’s come with a diverse fanbase.

“Within that is a homophobic subgroup and their shit’s been washing up on my shore. They dig ‘Michael’ but have a problem with me. It’s got that ‘love the sinner, hate the sin’ energy. They’d prefer I keep quiet, dial it down. Don’t remind them.

“No. My gayness was largely erased (by me, for starters) in the first decades of my career. It is my want, now, to centre it in a way that cannot be missed by myself or anyone else.”