Keith Veronese and Cyriaque Lamar — “A good Ben Linus battles evil with kung-fu Jesus and PreCrime.” Such is the high concept distillation of CBS’ new fall drama Person of Interest, but the show’s stars were happy to explain this high-tech show’s nuances at Comic-Con. We’ve seen the trailer, now check out what the cast had to say.
Person of Interest — which comes from J.J. Abrams’ Bad Robot Productions — centers on a mysterious billionaire, Mr. Finch (Michael Emerson) who creates a nationwide surveillance program that singles out individuals who will be involved in events leading to mass casualties in the near future.
Mr. Finch abandons the program and recruits John Reese (Jim Caviezel), a former special agent with a mysterious past, to prevent those deaths that are neglected by the system due to their lower casualty numbers. Jonathan Nolan (The Prestige, The Dark Knight), the creator and executive producer of Person of Interest was joined on stage by Caviezel, Emerson, and Taraji P. Henson for a short Q&A session after the pilot was shown to an audience at the San Diego Comic-Con.
Jonathan Nolan, calling himself a “part-time cynical American and a part-time cynical Englishman,” said that the high degree of surveillance already in place in the United Kingdom during his youth planted the seed in his mind for the series. Nolan emphasized the science fiction/science fact aspects of Person of Interest, as the tracking program developed on behalf of the government by Mr. Finch in the series is similar to ones that have and are being attempted in the real world, except that the one used in Person of Interest “actually works.”
Several questions centered on Michael Emerson’s character, Mr. Finch. Emerson was asked if it was a breath of fresh air to play a mysterious good guy after his portrayal of Benjamin Linus in Lost, and if was too early to say that Mr. Finch was a “good” guy. Emerson gave a sly grin and said:
I don’t know if we should be talking about this right now. But yeah, it’s a nice change of pace. I know a whiff of duplicity may hang about me, and it may take a few episodes for you to warm up to this character all together, but I’m sure that is going to happen.
Emerson later added, “He [Mr. Finch] will come into the light of day more, and with each passing episode you will feel a bit of frailty about him.” At the roundtables, Emerson also admitted:
I have played so much duplicity over the years, I was anxious to be able to leave that behind if that’s possible and play a straightforward good guy […] It’s about finding non-duplicitous complications that will be the challenge in the part […] It’s one thing to be a good man, but then taking the law into your own hands, vigilantism, I think should give every thinking person caution, no matter how good their cause.
Emerson elaborated on the potential repercussions of Finch and Reese’s vigilantism:
What makes the show as tense as it is is that there’s danger on every front. There’s danger from the conventional authorities, there’s danger from the particular actors in whatever crime their looking into, and there’s danger from darker places in the shadow they’re not ever aware of.
Jim Caviezel, when asked about preparation for his role as a military man with a mysterious past, revealed that he trained with Navy Seal Team One in San Diego. “They gave me lots of information. Between them and Jonathan Nolan, I’m in good shape,” Caviezel joked.
Taraji P. Henson plays Carter, a police officer who initially finds a John Reese as a homeless man after an altercation on a subway train. When asked if the role of Carter centered on searching out for Reese, Henson said:
Yeah, but I just don’t know who I’m chasing. I’m just looking for this one guy in a suit. I don’t know what kind, what color.
This led to Jonathan Nolan stating that Carter will be a pivotal player in the series, with Person of Interest really being about Mr. Finch, John Reese, and Carter, but that they were following the JJ Abrams formula of “we reveal nothing.”
Person of Interest premieres Thursday, September 22nd on CBS.