(Unfortunately, only the first part of the interview is printed, and I did not wish to pay the $99 subscription fee to see the rest.)
NEW YORK: Michael Emerson, who developed a loyal following with his performance as Benjamin Linus on the critically acclaimed series Lost
, discusses now playing a brilliant somewhat mysterious and eccentric billionaire on Person of Interest
as Mr. Finch.
WS: What first appealed to you about Person of Interest and how did you hear about it?
EMERSON: It was among a pile of scripts that were being batted around at Bad Robot [J.J. Abrams’ company that produced Lost and is also behind Person of Interest] in the fall of 2010. I was working on a different project that I hoped was going to take off, but it didn’t work out. I still had a relationship with Bad Robot and I said, Surely you’ve got something else around here that’s cool. They showed me this and said, This might interest you, it’s kind of a noir setting, New York City-based, crime fighting, vigilante; it could be fun. I read it and I really liked it. I liked the mood of it and the atmosphere and the setting and it seemed like a good part, so I just went with it. Then you make a pilot and you think that’s that, it may or may not get picked up. And it certainly may or may not ever have success. This one has done well.
WS: It certainly has. Was it a consideration for you, in looking at this project, that your next role after Ben Linus be a different kind of character?
EMERSON: Well, I was thinking about that and it was nice I thought that this character was an all together good guy, even though he was brainy and articulate, I thought that was a nice change.
WS: There are a lot of shows that feature flawed characters, or characters whose moral compass is not pointing true north. Is it more difficult to portray somebody who is basically a decent person or can that be just as satisfying a character to play?
EMERSON: It’s a little harder to make good guys interesting, especially as you say, the general feeling right now is the chase for anti heroes or worse. Villainy or darkness have a few more layers or might be a little more complex. Whether you are playing a good guy or a bad guy, it’s fun if the character is complicated.
WS: Finch has a limp and some previous injuries. Did you add that in and is that a way of bringing complexity to the character?
EMERSON: There was mention in the pilot script about him having been injured and it was up to me to figure out the specifics of that. That was always part of it. It justified him needing a helper; it was why he could not do it alone. It sets everything up. But we explained where those injuries came from at the end of season two.
WS: A prototype of the Machine really did exist, right?
EMERSON: Yes, several different ones in reality, programs that were funded by the American government at one time or another.
This interview continues here.