Prison Break returns to our screens for the first time in eight years this April, picking up where the series (and TV movie) left off in 2009 with a mini-series aptly titled Prison Break: Sequel. The revival kicks off when Lincoln Burrows (Dominic Purcell) and Sara Tancredi (Sarah Wayne Callies) discover that the believed-dead Michael Scofield (Wentworth Miller) is in fact alive, and locked in a prison in Yemen. The new series will bring back many of our favorite faces from the original show; on top of the dream team that is Miller and Purcell, the show sees the return of Robert Knepper as T-Bag, Rockmond Dunbar as C-Note, and Amaury Nolasco as Sucre. These were the characters that we loved (and loved to hate) in the original series, but the series included a number of prominent stars that weren’t part of the core group of outlaws on the run. From bigger roles like Brad Bellick (Wade Williams) that showed up in multiple seasons, to single-season appearances like Robin Tunney’s Veronica Donovan or Michael Rapaport’s Don Self, the show was full of incredible actors and memorable characters.
Some stars, however, had slightly less memorable roles. Whether they have made it big since their appearance on the show, or they were recognizable then but playing forgettable characters, many fans will have forgotten that these fifteen celebrities were ever behind bars with Miller and Purcell (or on the other side of them).
15. Kaley Cuoco (Sasha)
At this point, Kaley Cuoco is easily best known for playing Penny on The Big Bang Theory, a role that she has been in for ten years, and that has made her the second-highest-paid actress on television. Having recently signed on to continue her star-making turn on the hit CBS series for at least two more years, at this point in her career, there is no doubt that Cuoco has made it — but many forget that she had a brief role on Prison Break once upon a time, spending her time with criminals instead of nerds.
Cuoco played Sasha on the show in season 2 for two episodes, the messed-up teen who falls for Haywire (Silas Weir Mitchell), the mentally ill prisoner who briefly shares a cell with Michael. When Haywire meets Sasha, he discovers that her father is an abusive alcoholic and murders him for it, even though he barely knew Sasha at the time. It was a brief sidebar that existed to develop Haywire, and Sasha herself ended up being forgettable — and Cuoco moved on to much bigger things.
14. Carlos Navarro (Police Captain)
When Navarro first appeared on Prison Break, it was his first ever TV role, playing the Police Captain in the season 3 episode “Interference”. Prior to this bit part, he had worked on a video game, a couple of shorts, and landed the incredibly vital role of “Football Fan #2” in the movie Sydney White. His part on the show was a tiny one on a single episode, and most viewers wouldn’t have looked twice at him at the time.
He’s still far from a household name, but Navarro’s career is certainly on the rise. Not only was he in Netflix’s smash-hit Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt last year, but he’s currently appearing on The Walking Dead. He’s even moved up to named characters, playing Coaster Head Joe on Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt, and Alvaro (a soldier for The Kingdom) on The Walking Dead. Given TWD’s massive popularity, it’s likely that audiences will be seeing a whole lot more of this Prison Break alum in future — assuming he doesn’t get munched on by a zombie.
13. Lori Petty (Daddy)
Lori Petty didn’t actually appear in the main series, having made her debut in the TV movie that wrapped up the show, Prison Break: The Final Break. This hour and a half long special took place largely in a women’s penitentiary for a change, where Sara was locked up after her wedding — and where she met the frightening Daddy. Delusional and violent, Petty’s Daddy even tried to kill Sara at one point, and it would have been fantastic to see more of her.
Recently, Petty has returned to a women’s prison on the small screen, as Lolly in Orange Is The New Black, so in a way, we are seeing more of Petty’s take on an inmate who doesn’t quite grasp reality. However, Petty was a star long before she set foot on Prison Break, known for her work in ‘90s classics like Tank Girl and A League Of Their Own, and she even popped in for a stint on Gotham last year.
12. Titus Welliver (Scott/The Representative)
Another big star who came to the show with a long list of previous credits, but only stuck around for a couple of episodes, Titus Welliver played Scott Carruth, AKA The Representative. He appeared for two episodes in season four, “Going Under” and “The Sunshine State”. Scott worked for The Company (the people who framed Lincoln in the first place), and met an appropriate end when Mahone (William Fichtner) shot him during his second appearance on the show.
These days, Welliver is starring as the titular character in Amazon’s critical darling Bosch, though he already has a long and distinguished career behind him, with recent roles on shows such as Agents of SHIELD, Suits, Grimm and The Good Wife. He’s also made his way onto the big screen, appearing in feature films such as Argo, The Town, and the fourth Transformers film. He was a star long before he appeared on Prison Break (with a filmography that stretches back to the early ’90s), and it was a treat to see him on the show, even in such a small part.
11. Mark Pellegrino (Patrick Vikan)
Mark Pellegrino has actually appeared in two series within the Prison Break universe, and as two separate characters. After his appearance on the original Prison Break, he appeared in a single episode of the spin-off show Breakout Kings in 2011. Originally, however, he played Company man Patrick Vikan in Prison Break season 4. Despite working for the Company in his past, by the time we meet him, Vikan has left and is attempting to buy Scylla for his own version of the organization. The buy goes south, however, and Vikan is shot and killed in his second episode.
Fans may also recognize Pellegrino from a number of other TV series, including his current major role in Supernatural as Lucifer. He has also recently appeared in shows such as Quantico, The Returned, and Being Human, in addition to parts in films ranging from cult classics like The Big Lebowski to blockbusters like National Treasure.
10. Aisha Hinds (Bo Cowler)
Aisha Hinds appeared in the TV movie, Prison Break: The Final Break, as one of the guards in the women’s prison that Sara was sent to. The guard, Bo Cowler, had a flirtation with one of the other inmates (Gretchen, a character from earlier seasons of the show, played by Jodi Lyn O’Keefe), and this relationship ended up playing a key part in Sara’s escape.
Aisha Hinds has had brief roles in a huge number of major TV shows, including Cold Case, Lost, and Stargate SG-1, but after her role on Prison Break, she started landing some juicier parts. She later appeared as Loomis on Dollhouse, as Miss Jeanette on True Blood, Latrice on Weeds, and Carolyn Hill on Under The Dome. She also joined the Star Trek franchise in 2013, as Navigation Officer Darwin in Star Trek: Into Darkness, and is currently starring in the new Fox series, Shots Fired. You’d be forgiven if you’ve never heard of the latter series, but considering that it sports a cast that includes the likes of Helen Hunt, Richard Dreyfuss, Stephen Moyer, Will Patton, and promising up-and-comer Stephen James, it may be a show to keep an eye on.
9. Gianni Russo (Gavin Smallhouse)
Russo appeared in three episodes of the first season of Prison Break, where he played butcher Gavin Smallhouse. Smallhouse is a bit-player in the larger story of gangster Abruzzi (Peter Stormare), involved in the complicated case of Fibonacci (Roderick Peeples). Smallhouse isn’t an inmate, but appears as a prison visitor in the show.
It’s far from Russo’s first time in a gangster role, of course, as he is best known for playing Carlo in The Godfather and The Godfather: Part II. He’s the perfect man for the part, and he’s been in multiple mobster movies, TV shows, and videos in his career — although he has occasionally played some other character types as well, of course. In addition to a whole range of other mobster roles and various parts throughout the past five decades, Russo has more recently appeared in the mafia movie Send No Flowers, and will be appearing in the upcoming Minkow and Con Man.
8. Jessalyn Gilsig (Lisa Rix)
Jessalyn Gilsig had a relatively big role in the first season of Prison Break, but it wasn’t quite big enough to stick in fans’ memories, garnering only five total appearances (and one mention in the fourth season). Gilsig played Lisa Rix, Lincoln Burrow’s ex-wife and the mother of his son. Lisa was murdered by secret service agent Daniel Hale (Danny McCarthy), and her son was framed for her death, starting his life on the run.
Gilsig herself is best known now for her role on Glee, where she played the conniving Terri Schuester. That’s far from her only big TV role in recent years, however, as she went on from Prison Break to take larger parts in Nip/Tuck (as Gina Russo), Friday Night Lights (as Shelley Hayes), and Heroes (as Meredith Gordon). In the years since Glee ended, Gilsig appeared as Siggy Haraldson on Vikings, and she’s currently playing Vanesss Moss on ABC’s Scandal.
7. Kim Coates (Richard Sullins)
Kim Coates has an on-screen career spanning over thirty years, but it was his role as Tig in Sons of Anarchy in 2008 that really shot this actor to fame. Right before Sons of Anarchy, Coates appeared as Richard Sullins in Prison Break seasons 2 and 3, as well as in Prison Break: The Final Break. Agent Richard Sullins is head of Internal Affairs for the FBI, and he’s about as close to a ‘good guy’ as this show gets. He came to the show to investigate Agent Mahone for murdering two of the escapees in cold blood.
Around the same time that Coates was on Prison Break, he also had a recurring role as Ron Saris in CSI: Miami before he went on to Sons of Anarchy. In addition to his work on the small screen, Coates has been in a surprising number of blockbuster movies, including Black Hawk Down, Waterworld, Pearl Harbor, and Resident Evil: Afterlife. He usually plays that jerk you don’t like, but hey, he nails it every time.
6. Al Sapienza (Philly Falzone)
Another well-established actor who has plenty of experience with mob characters, Al Sapienza appeared in four episodes of the first season of Prison Break, where he played gangster Philly Falzone. Falzone was one of Abruzzi’s associates, and he used to pick up his laundry (fun gig). He appeared as a visitor in the prison, but Abruzzi was far from a friend to him, tricking him into getting arrested himself.
Before his stint on Prison Break, Sapienza is probably best known for his role as another mobster character: Mikey Palmice in The Sopranos. Since then, he’s appeared in Brotherhood (as Mayor Frank Panzarella), Burn Notice, Blue Bloods, The Firm, and House Of Cards. He’s also made some appearances in the TV comic book universe, popping in for roles in both Gotham and The Flash. More recently, Sapienza had a recurring role as Detective Raymond Terney in Person of Interest, is currently playing Andrew Whitmore in No Easy Days, and has no fewer than fourteen (!) projects in the works.
5. Graham McTavish (Ferguson)
Graham McTavish appeared in four episodes of the fourth season of Prison Break, another Company agent who ran afoul of Michael Scofield and his gang. Ferguson appeared at a few different points in the story for this season, first approaching and threatening Michael over Scylla, then holding him hostage and physically holding him down when a Company doctor was going to drug him. Ferguson was finally disposed of when he died in a car crash caused by Sara.
Since his time as Ferguson on the show, McTavish has gone on to some absolutely huge roles, including starring as the dwarf Dwalin in the Hobbit trilogy. On top of landing this prominent gig on the big screen, McTavish is starring in two TV series currently on the air, as Dougal MacKenzie in Outlander, and as ‘The Cowboy’ (that comic fans know as the Saint of Killers) on Preacher, a role that is likely to get even bigger as the series progresses.
4. John Heard (Frank Tancredi)
John Heard established himself in the ‘80s and ‘90s with his work in films like Home Alone, Big, and Awakening, and he has kept up a steady stream of roles since, including one of the biggest roles on this list: as Sara’s father, Governer Frank Tancredi. Although he is related to one of the core trio of characters on the show, Frank only appeared in a total of ten episodes of Prison Break, in seasons 1 and 2, before being killed by the Company. Frank’s relationship with his daughter is strained, and made worse by his refusal to pay attention to what she tells him about the Burrows case. Before his death, however, Frank finally started to listen, making his eventual demise all the more tragic for Sara.
3. Silas Weir Mitchell (Haywire)
One of biggest characters on this list, Silas Weir Mitchell had a recurring role for much of the first two seasons of Prison Break, and was even one of the escapees and a temporary cellmate to Michael Scofield himself. A mathematical genius, Haywire’s real name is Charles Patoshik, but he earned his nickname after he snapped and killed his parents with a shotgun. At first, Haywire gets in the way of the plan to escape, but he eventually gets on board once he learns what’s really happening. He doesn’t survive long on the outside, though, and he later jumps to his death after talking to Agent Mahone.
After Prison Break, the actor moved on to a major part in My Name Is Earl (as Donny Jones). These days, Weir Mitchell is starring in Grimm as Monroe, and has also appeared for bit parts in The Good Guys, Portlandia, Dexter, and Burn Notice in the past decade.
2. Frank Grillo (Nick Savrinn)
Frank Grillo appeared in eighteen episodes of Prison Break over the first season, where he played lawyer Nick Savrinn. At first, it looked like Savrinn was one of the good guys, helping Veronica track down find evidence to prove that Lincoln was framed for a murder he didn’t commit. However, his character was eventually revealed to be working with Abruzzi to turn Veronica over to him — and by the time he realizes that he has come to care for her too much to betray her, he is murdered by Abruzzi’s henchmen.
Grillo’s career has taken off in the years since Prison Break, having appeared in a whole range of films and TV shows, but his biggest have included Warrior, the second and third Purge films, and, most notably, as Crossbones in Captain America: The Winter Soldier and Captain America: Civil War. It’s unlikely that he’ll be reappearing in the MCU, however, as he died in a suicide bombing in his second big screen outing as Brock Rumlow.
1. Cress Williams (Wyatt Matthewson)
Another short-lived character in season four of the show, Cress Williams played Wyatt for only eight episodes of Prison Break in 2008. Like most of the other season 4 characters on this list, Wyatt worked for the Company, where he served as a professional assassin. He was hired to kill Michael, Lincoln, and Sara, but (obviously) failed to complete the job. Instead, he made the mistake of killing Mahone’s son in a ploy to find his targets, and Mahone hunted him down, tortured, and killed him in revenge.
Williams was already a well-known face in the TV world by the time that he appeared on the show, having already been in Veronica Mars, Beverly Hills 90210, ER and Grey’s Anatomy (among a host of other shows). Post-Prison Break, Williams spent several years on Hart of Dixie and Code Black, and is now joining the live-action comic book scene as Black Lightning in the upcoming CW series of the same name. Check him out in all his superhero glory!
Do you know of any other prominent actors that appeared in Prison Break that most folks didn’t notice? Let us know in the comments.
Prison Break: Sequel begins Tues, April 4th on Fox.