Dean Winters interviwe - Peach Buzz

Richard L. Eldredge
Monday, July 10, 2000

Naturally, the security guard outside Plush was the first guy to recognize actors Harold Perrineau and Dean Winters when they arrived at the Buckhead nightclub over the weekend. The two play inmates on the HBO prison drama series "Oz," which enters its sixth season on the cable network Wednesday night at 11.

"People always ask where my wheelchair is," Perrineau told us over breakfast at the J.W. Marriott hotel. Perrineau plays Augustus Hill, the show's wheelchair-bound narrator. "They don't really get that it's just for the role."

Winters has had his own unusual interactions with fans off the set. "For some reason, cops always want to pose for pictures and ask for autographs. One time a cop in New York saw me out walking and picked me up and gave me a ride downtown to where I was going."

Both actors agree that one big perk of doing "Oz" is working with longtime actress Rita Moreno, who portrays Sister Peter Marie Reimondo, the prison's staff psychologist.

"She's one of the guys," said Winters. "She's got a mouth like a truck driver. I've had the world's biggest crush on her since I saw 'West Side Story' on TV when I was a kid."

While "Oz" is busy reforming jaywalkers nationwide these days, Winters and Perrineau admit that a similar show, the prison documentary "Scared Straight", had the same effect on them as young people in the 1970s.

Said Winters: "When that inmate screamed at the visiting kids to give him their shoes, it was enough to have me taking mine off in my living room. I was like, 'Mom, I need some stamps!' At that moment, I decided against a criminal career."

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