Wentworth Miller’s Decision Not To Star In Prison Break Season Six Is A Lesson For Us All

'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.'

Wentworth Miller

by Georgia Aspinall |
Updated on

After Dominic Purcell confirmed that Prison Break season six was in the works this month, fans of the critically-acclaimed series waited with bated breath for Wentworth Miller, who plays Michael, to speak up. Yesterday, he in fact announced he wouldn’t be returning to the franchise, and his reasoning is more important than ever.

‘I'm out [of Prison Break]. Officially,’ he said on Instagram. ‘Not [because] of static on social media (although that has centred the issue). I just don't want to play straight characters. Their stories have been told (and told). No more Michael. If you were a fan of the show, hoping for additional seasons... I understand this is disappointing. I'm sorry. If you're hot and bothered [because] you fell in love with a fictional straight man played by a real gay one...That’s your work.’

His decision has been met with both praise and backlash from fans, something Miller decided to elaborate on in a second post. Explaining his decision in more detail, he pointed to the faction of homophobic fans he’s gained in playing Michael Schofield saying ‘their shits been washing up on my shore’. His sexuality does seem to have come as a shock to many who adore him, with ‘Wentworth Miller gay’ trending on Google in relation to his announcement.

‘I haven't spent my career on "Pose" and "Looking."’ He said. ‘[It] 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.’

Further explaining why he’s chosen to leave Michael behind, he said he didn’t want to erase his sexuality anymore by playing straight roles. Stating that he was never told explicitly to ‘bury his gayness’, he had received enough messaging already from society (‘Hollywood/the larger culture/the schools I went to/my family of origin such things go unspoken lest you risk punishment, losing rights/privileges’) to feel like he should.

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

Purcell has since came out in support of Miller and announced there will no longer be a Prison Break season six. ‘I cannot persuade, nor would I even attempt to persuade him to betray his truth,’ Purcell posted on Instagram. ‘So, that's it, six isn't gonna happen, and if it does happen it's not gonna happen with myself or Wentworth because I'm loyal to Wentworth.’

It might be a disappointing conclusion for Prison Break fans, but there’s something we can all learn in Miller’s decision. First of all, that we should all be able to celebrate in someone else’s decision to prioritise their own happiness in their career and beyond that. You might not get another season of a show you love, but Miller doesn’t have to spend months of his life in what he described as his own jail – frankly, that’s more important than our binge-watching desires.

It's easy to choose jobs that force us to dampen our self-expression.

But more than that, we should be taking his ethos into all of our own lives too. Hollywood acting might be a world away from our regular day-to-day, but there’s no doubt we all choose jobs, whole careers even, that force us to dampen ourselves – be it our gender expression, openness about our sexuality or any sort of self-expression. Because, we live in a world where LGBTQ+ stigma, racial and gender prejudice, is still pervasive across many industries - our offices are rarely a safe space. Even just choosing a job we don’t enjoy in general - out of necessity, fear or otherwise - is a choice not to centre our truest expressions of ourselves and in turn, our happiness.

That might be a privilege, it certainly is for Miller who unlike countless other gay actors starting out has the kudos to pick and choose his jobs. But it’s an attitude we should all be aware of as we move through life. It might not always be what others want for you, what you expected to want for yourself, but at a time when so many people are in career crisis and making huge life decisions in a time of fear and chaos, reflecting on what truly brings you joy and what you really want to achieve in life is important.

Read More:

Coming Out Across The Decades

Homophobia At School Taught Me That My Friends, Teachers And Family Wouldn’t Understand Me

The Reality Of Being Made Redundant In Your 20s

Just so you know, whilst we may receive a commission or other compensation from the links on this website, we never allow this to influence product selections - read why you should trust us