Ex-Prison Worker Who Helped Escapees: Ben Stiller Is a 'Liar'

Joyce 'Tillie' Mitchell, depicted in Showtime's 'Escape at Dannemora,' says director is an 'idiot'
By Jenn Gidman,  Newser Staff
Posted Dec 24, 2018 6:21 AM CST
Updated Dec 29, 2018 9:03 AM CST
Ex-Prison Worker Who Helped Escapees: Ben Stiller Is a 'Liar'
In this July 28, 2015, file photo, Joyce Mitchell raises her hand during a court appearance in Plattsburgh, NY.   (Rob Fountain/The Press-Republican via AP, Pool, File)

Joyce Mitchell—better known as "Tillie" in Showtime's Escape at Dannemora, in which she's played by Patricia Arquette—is proving as salty as her TV character. The ex-prison seamstress, serving time in New York for her role in the escape from an upstate New York prison by inmates Richard Matt and David Sweat, just spoke publicly for the first time since 2015, and she didn't hold back on either the show or director Ben Stiller. Stiller "is a son-of-a-bitch liar just like the rest of the world," she told the New York Post in two interviews last week. "He doesn't care about the truth. All he cares about is making millions off me. He's an idiot." Among the show's assertions she disputes: that she had sex with Sweat and Matt, though she did tell investigators she was forced to give oral sex to Matt, and that she'd sent nude photos to Sweat.

Mitchell also says she provided escape tools to the men because she was scared of them, and that her "loyal" and "wonderful" husband, Lyle, portrayed in the show as a naive dupe, comes to visit every two weeks. One thing the show gets right, per Mitchell, who's serving a seven-year sentence: Matt's close relationship with prison guard Gene Palmer, who served four months for delivering hacksaw blades buried in hamburger meat to the two men. Matt was found and shot dead by cops nearly three weeks after escaping; Sweat was captured alive two days after that. Meanwhile, Deadline caught up with Stiller, who defended the show's research and depiction of the characters. "I was just trying to tell the story in as real and hopefully as entertaining a way as possible without exploiting," he says. More from Mitchell here, and from Stiller here on the making of the show and his meeting with Sweat. (This guy made it for 32 years on the lam.)

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