'Escape at Dannemora' cast member discusses 'major' role

PLATTSBURGH, N.Y. (WCAX) We are just seven days away from the Plattsburgh premiere of "Escape at Dannemora," a Showtime Network series about the infamous manhunt for two inmates who broke out of the Clinton Correction Facility.

Our Kelly O'Brien spent the day with a cast member who played a major role in the manhunt.

"I wouldn't say it brought back bad memories. It brought back recollections of very stressful times in my life," said Maj. Charles Guess, the former commander of New York State Police Troop B.

Guess was with the New York State Police for 26 years. He's seen a lot in his day, which helped propel him to the position of Troop B Commander in Ray Brook in 2014.

"I was the troop commander and immediately designated as the incident commander for the manhunt," Guess said.

The major worked with state agencies and agencies across the country to successfully capture the two murderers, David Sweat and Richard Matt.

Guess retired a year after the escape and wrote a book about it.

"My wife, especially, said you know if you don't write it somebody else is going to," Guess said.

The stranger-than-fiction escape quickly made it to the small screen, first in a Lifetime movie. Now, it's in the spotlight again with a Showtime Network miniseries directed by Hollywood star Ben Stiller.

"They reached out to me to see if I would be interested in meeting with Mr. Stiller on this project," Guess said.

Guess had concerns-- like residents in the North Country-- about how Hollywood might portray the escape.

"Treat this very serious incident, which really was a traumatic experience for residents of the North Country and law enforcement for 23 days with the utmost respect and give it due diligence as far as its accuracy and realism," he said.

Guess quickly learned Stiller felt the same way. After agreeing to work with them on the production came a question he didn't expect

"I was asked to portray myself," he said. "You know, these are limited cameos, so don't blink an eye or you'll miss it. But Ben essentially said, hey, where else am I going to find a guy with a haircut like that, that knows the material?"

Guess took a leap of faith and said yes to the position.

"I've seen a number of the segments now because I've been involved in some of the post-production work," he said. "That makes it real. When you actually watch it on a screen and it's not just you that you are watching but the entire shot with all the background and effects that they have going on, it was kind of surreal."

Guess won't be the only familiar face in the series. Showtime cast a lot of extras from the North Country. That screening takes place here at Cumberland 12 theaters next Thursday at 6:30 p.m.