The actress who plays Gretchen Morgan talks about the series and the upcoming DVD movie
Jodi Lynn O'Keefe certainly got off to a fast start in Hollywood. The actress landed the role of Marguerite Cory on the soap opera Another World when she was a sophomore in high school and was on the show for six years. Right after that she played Cassidy in all six seasons of Nash Bridges while also starring in films like Halloween: H20 and the teen flick She's All That as high school hottie Taylor Vaughn. O'Keefe returned to the small screen in 2007 with her role of the devious Gretchen Morgan on Prison Break. The fourth and final season of the show just hit the DVD shelves this week on June 2 and fans of the hit Fox series will get some closure with the upcoming DVD movie, Prison Break: The Final Break, which comes to DVD and Blu-ray on July 21. I had the chance to speak with O'Keefe on the phone about this popular series and upcoming DVD, and here's what she had to say.
So you came on during Season 3, so can you just talk about how you came on board to the show?
Jodi Lyn O'Keefe: I was brought on board by the company kind of to step in and clean up a situation that had gotten out of their control. I was the gal that they turned to who would sort of do anything to get the job done. That's how I was introduced. Basically, the girl was tormenting our two leads.
So how did the role come to you? Did they offer it to you or did you audition or how did that go?
Jodi Lyn O'Keefe: I had been doing comedies for Fox for a couple of years and so I don't think I was really one of their first thoughts for this role. I did the audition like a lot of other people did and I was really excited about it because I was a fan of the show already. My audition actually came in the day of, and I didn't want to go in because I didn't want to blow it. I called my manager and I said, 'I can't do it. I can't go in today and do this on the same day. I need to take time and prepare with the script. I don't want to go in there and do a crappy job, because I love this show.' So he said to me, 'OK, well if there's another day, there's another day and if there's not, there's not. If it was meant to be, maybe it'll come around again.' And they had one more day of auditions and I went in and got the role, I guess.
So you haven't really played a character like this before, so what kinds of things did you do to get into the character of Gretchen Morgan?
Jodi Lyn O'Keefe: I ignored every single instinct I have as a human being (Laughs). I'm not confrontational, I don't like to fight, I don't even like to argue so, for me, it was like everything felt completely wrong, and that's what I did. I wasn't sure if I was going to be able to pull it off, and I just decided that I was going to really really try and be this completely opposite person.
I was at the panel at Comic-Con last year and they were talking a little bit about the format, how one year they'd be in prison and the next year they'd be out, stuff like that. So can you talk a bit about that format and how that really served the show?
Jodi Lyn O'Keefe: Well, each season we took it to a new level. I was a fan before, so I didn't understand how they were going to keep it on the air. Once they broke out... I mean, it's called Prison Break. What are they going to do when they get out of prison? But they really came up with a really clever way every single year. They kept surprising me. One year they're in prison, the next year they're on the run, the next year after that, one gets thrown into a Panamanian jail and then in this last season, Season 4, it was actually in a women's prison.
There was quite an amazing cast to this show too, with Dominic Purcell, Wentworth Miller, Amaury Nolasco, Robert Knepper and all those guys. What was just a day on the set like working with this amazing cast?
Jodi Lyn O'Keefe: Well, I was a little nervous when I first got there, because it's, you know, all men. I thought this was going to be interesting. It was going to be me, with a gun and a bunch of dudes and I was like, 'Am I going to be comfortable?' It turned out that I got there and they were such gentlemen and they were so lovely to me that they made me feel at home right away. There are all these guys asking every minute if you're thirsty? Do you need a glass of water? Are you OK? Have you eaten today (Laughs). It was the exact opposite of everything that I expected to happen. I was expecting a bunch of stinky, sweaty boys. It was easy. I kind of integrated into the cast really easily. They are amazing to work with. The first couple of weeks on set, I just couldn't stop smiling. My favorite story to tell is that I got there and it was like, that's Michael Scofield. That's not Wentworth Miller. That's Michael, and I had just this big sh*t-eating grin on my face the entire time. I had to constantly remind myself that, 'Maybe you shouldn't smile so much when you're killing someone" (Laughs). It was an adjustment.
From what I understand, the Prison Break: The Final Break DVD that's coming out next month, they were essentially two episodes that were previously produced that they made into this film, so were these episodes supposed to come out before the season finale or how did that all work?
Jodi Lyn O'Keefe: It was actually, in the season finale, where they showed you where the show ended up and then they flash-forwarded to four years later, it's the time in between. It explains everything that happens and I think it was always supposed to be after the season finale. The season finale left you with all these questions, and this two-part show answers them all for you. It's kind of like a bonus at the end of all of it.
Without giving too much away, is there stuff that is still left lingering, or does this tie up pretty much everything in the new DVD?
Jodi Lyn O'Keefe: Well, you know, the question that everyone keeps asking me, that people say to me all the time is, 'Michael's really actually dead, is he? That's crazy. That's impossible.' So with Prison Break, you kind of never know when someone is dead and when someone is not (Laughs). I never know how to answer these questions, because I don't think anyone would believe me anyway. No, I just don't think anyone in the public is actually going to be convinced that Michael is actually not around.
So when did you guys actually film this DVD then?
Jodi Lyn O'Keefe: Right at the end of our season. As soon as we finished all the episodes for the season and the finale, then we went and shot the next two.
I see you also shot a pilot called The Call so has that been picked up or is there anything you can tell us about that?
Jodi Lyn O'Keefe: Oh, that was before Prison Break and it hasn't been picked up.
Oh ok. They had it on IMDB and it said for 2010, so I wasn't sure if it actually was picked up.
Jodi Lyn O'Keefe: Oh. Well, you know what though, it also said on IMDB that I had my own show called The Gretchen Morgan Files, so I don't know about that (Laughs).
Yeah. You can't really trust them that much.
Jodi Lyn O'Keefe: (Laughs) I mean, I called my manager and said, 'Do I have a show? Maybe someone should've told me?'
You think you'd be the first to know, if you have your own show.
Jodi Lyn O'Keefe: (Laughs) Yeah, me too, right? And I'm really the last to know.
So is there anything that you're currently working on or looking to start up in the near future?
Jodi Lyn O'Keefe: No, actually. Right now, I'm just scrambling for work, trying to find a project that I love and that I'm into and get back in the saddle again. I finished Prison Break and I did a guest star on The Big Bang Theory and it's been about a month or so, since I've stopped working. I'm just reading scripts and looking for TV or some kind of film work right now. The industry is very very slow.
Yeah, I suppose. I've been hearing that a lot. Everything is hopefully going to be cleared up with SAG in the next couple of weeks, I assume.
Jodi Lyn O'Keefe: You know what, I hope so to. Like my mom always says, 'From your lips to God's ears,' we'll go with that one.
So, finally, what would you like to say to all the fans that supported the show throughout the years and can you talk a little bit about why they should pick this Prison Break: The Final Break up on DVD next month?
Jodi Lyn O'Keefe: Oh, well, first of all, these are fans like I've never seen before. I jumped into a show that had a cult following and they were so great to me. I went and did a convention in London and people just loved this character, or loved to hate me. I was overwhelmed and was just so grateful all the time. I think that really the reason to pick up this DVD and to watch the two-parter is you get more on the characters and what happens and it's just fun. The show is done. They took it off the air. Let's have one last little hurrah and check out the two-part episode on DVD. I haven't seen it yet, and I'm really excited for it.
Excellent. Well, that's about all I have for you, Jodi. Thanks so much for your time, and the best of luck.
Jodi Lyn O'Keefe: Thanks. Have a great day.
You can see Jodi Lyn O'Keefe and the rest of the cast of Prison Break bring the series to a close when Prison Break: The Final Break hits the shelves on DVD and Blu-ray on July 21, and you can pick up Prison Break: Season 4 on the DVD shelves now.