Movie Talk

‘Prison Break’ star Wentworth Miller turns screenwriter with ‘Stoker’

Movie Talk

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Wentworth Miller (Photo: Jun Sato/WireImage)

Wentworth Miller was a talented journeyman actor before he became a rising star playing Michael Scofield on the hit television series "Prison Break." Now Miller has a new film opening Friday, but he's nowhere to be seen in it -- Miller has gone from acting to screenwriting, and has penned one of the talked-about films of the year.

"Stoker" is an offbeat thriller about a teenage girl (played by Mia Wasikowska) and her emotionally chilly mother (Nicole Kidman) whose lives are turned upside down when Uncle Charlie (Matthew Goode) arrives to pay a visit after a traumatic death in the family. It marks Miller's debut as a screenwriter, and is the first American project from Park Chan-Wook, the Korean filmmaker who first turned heads on the international film scene with 2003's "Oldboy" (currently being remade by Spike Lee).

"Stoker" premiered at the Sundance Film Festival in January, and the movie has been earning rave reviews so far. The Hollywood Reporter's John DeFore called it "one of the most artful chillers in ages," and David Ollerton of 0The London Film Review wrote, "'Stoker" is an unsettling, eerie, brutal and beautiful film that is difficult to fit into any one category -- and is all the better for it."

The genesis of "Stoker" began when "Prison Break" ended its run in 2009, and the British-born, Brooklyn-raised Miller was pondering his next move. Miller studied English at Princeton, so doing some writing seemed like a good idea. According to Miller, "Stoker" was written in just four weeks, and so he wouldn't seem like just another actor who decided he could write, he initially submitted the script under the pen name Ted Foulke. As Miller told reporter Kyle Buchanan, "That wasn't about protecting my identity -- I just wanted the scripts to sink or swim on their own. I thought seeing my name on the cover might create static of some kind, maybe positive, maybe negative, but it just wasn't something I wanted to factor into the equation. I wanted them to stand on their own two feet."

Before long, "Stoker" was not just standing on its own, it was attracting some high powered talent -- Jodie Foster and Carey Mulligan were initially attached to the project before Kidman and Wasikowska came aboard, and with Park Chan-Wook in the director's chair, the film was earning powerful buzz before its initial screenings at Sundance.

Now "Stoker" will be opening in selected markets Friday, March 1, and Miller's screenwriting career is poised to usurp his work as an actor.

He's already penned a prequel to "Stoker," titled "Uncle Charlie," and is reportedly working on a screen adaptation of David Wroblewski's acclaimed novel "The Story of Edgar Sawtelle." As an actor, he'll be starring alongside James Marsden in the drama "The Loft," which is slated for a September 2013 release.

Miller hasn't set aside his ambitions as an actor, but after completing "Stoker" and "Uncle Charlie," he's eager to see how they play out on the big screen without him. "Writing ('Stoker') was probably the most creatively satisfying experience I've had, hands down, on a personal level," Miller said. "Regardless of where ('Stoker' and 'Uncle Charlie') go, in a way, it was the main event for me to be putting pen to paper, or fingertips to keyboard, as it were.

As soon as I was done with both scripts, I really just wanted to hand them off to someone else and say, 'See you at the premiere,' then show up and get my big bucket of popcorn and watch someone else's interpretation of what I've laid out on the page."

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