'Prison Break' Star Escapes From 'Desolation Canyon'
"It's very hot here," he says. "It's about 93 and about 80 percent humidity. They tell me that it's cool, and wait until I come back after July 5, and I'll be really in for it."
Keach is in the Lone Star State filming the second season of FOX's "Prison Break," premiering Aug. 21, which follows the adventures of escaped Death Row inmate Lincoln Burrows (Dominic Purcell), the incarcerated half-brother, Michael Scofield (Wentworth Miller), that got him out, and their fellow escapees from Fox River Penitentiary (otherwise known as Joliet Prison outside of Chicago).
Keach plays Warden Pope, whose misplaced trust in Scofield contributed to the breakout from Fox River.
But first, Keach must take a break to promote a very different sort of project, the Western drama "Desolation Canyon," premiering Saturday, July 1, on Hallmark Channel.
A veteran of such Westerns as 1980's "The Long Riders," in which he worked with his brother, James -- along with the Carradine, Quaid and Guest siblings -- Keach plays a retired gunslinger trying to live the quiet life. This comes to an end when an old pal, a sheriff (Patrick Duffy, "Dallas"), arrives with word that the gunslinger's son is riding with a hired killer's (Kenneth Johnson, "The Shield") gang of bank robbers.
Also starring are David Rees Snell ("The Shield") and A Martinez, whose Western credits stretch back to 1972 and the John Wayne feature "The Cowboys."
Now in his mid-'60s, Keach admits that shooting a Western isn't as easy as it used to be. "It takes some stamina," he says. "You're outdoors, it's hot, you're up and down on horses, you're galloping and cantering. It's physically challenging."
Asked how he is on the draw, Keach says, "I keep telling myself that I'm not as fast as I used to be, but I'm still pretty quick. Patrick's quicker. He practices more, though."
Earlier this week, AMC scored big ratings with the debut of its Western miniseries "Broken Trail" -- directed by Walter Hill, who also helmed "The Long Riders" -- which featured an uncle and nephew (Robert Duvall, Thomas Haden Church).
"Family stories in the context of the Western are best," Keach says, "the more personal stories. 'Desolation Canyon' is something of that. It's very personal in that respect, because it's about a father and son and grandson, and friend."
Speaking of family, back on "Prison Break," Pope learned a hard lesson about Scofield's devotion to his brother.
"He's betrayed," Keach says of his character. "He trusted this kid. He's humiliated."
There's more humiliation in store when an FBI agent, played by "Invasion" star William Fichtner, supplants Pope in the search for the fugitives.
"We get along as actors very well," Keach says, "but the characters are at odds. He takes over the investigation."
Pope originally bonded with Scofield when the convict, an architect, took over construction on a miniature Taj Mahal, a gift for Mrs. Pope.
"The Taj Mahal," Keach says with a sigh, "her days are numbered. I love the Taj Mahal, but there's some misplaced aggression."
Season one of "Prison Break" is due out on DVD on Aug. 8 from 20th Century Fox Home Video, leaving latecomers a couple of weeks to catch up before season two begins.