So Many Questions: Emerson sees ‘Person of Interest’ character as bit of superhero.

Michael Emerson
Jean Claude Photograph

By Kate Benz

Published: Tuesday, Dec. 3, 2013, 9:00 p.m.

It’s an ironic existence when it becomes hard to tell whether your life is imitating art or art is imitating your life. For two-time Emmy Award-winner Michael Emerson, one would think that starring on the hit drama “Person of Interest,” in which an enigmatic billionaire and an ex-CIA member use heavy surveillance to intervene in violent crimes before they happen, might resonate with audiences.

But for Emerson, who made an indelible mark with fans during his stint on “Lost,” the likelihood that viewers are drawing parallels between real life and scripted television are slim to none. For him, it seems as though it’s the furthest thing from the minds of the 17 million that tuned in to watch the premiere of Season 3 in September. Maybe it’s the concept of a guardian angel, or the idea of the modern-day vigilante. It might even be the notion that superheroes do indeed exist. If you know where to look for them.

“Person of Interest” airs at 9 p.m. Tuesdays on CBS.

Question: Is the concept of “The Machine” striking a particular chord with audiences given concerns with the NSA surveillance program?

Answer: I would guess that it does, but that’s not the thing that people come up and talk to me about, which is surprising. I keep thinking, because our show is so accidentally topical right now, that people would be constantly coming up to me and drawing the parallels between the fictional Machine of our program and the prism system of the NSA. But I don’t know if people go to scripted television to get an airing of current-events issues. More people come to me and ask me about the dog than ask me about The Machine.

Q: People seem hungry to embrace the idea of someone watching over us, protecting us from harm.

A: Maybe it’s universal. I mean, all of literature has the ongoing theme of the avengers, the heroes. That’s an ancient idea, and I guess it is a comfort to live through dangers and violent acts and come out unharmed and right prevailing, all of that. And I think our show, just beneath the surface, is kind of a superhero show. It goes by so fast that you don’t stop and think, “That’s sort of convenient that happened at that moment,” and stuff like that. We are like caped avengers, only without the cape.

Q: When it comes to your Finch character, is he a modern-day vigilante or just some guy with a serious God complex?

A: Well, I suppose that’s in the eyes of the beholder. I think he is an avenger — but a kind of unwilling one. He’s done this, as we’ve seen, as a tribute to a fallen comrade. It’s a way to make his lost friend live on. And also to nurse their dream of justice.

Q: Even when intentions are good, are there consequences to interfering with fate?

A: Sure. Always. One of the themes of our show, I think, is you can never get things right unless you have perfect information, and even in a world of super computers, perfect information is hard to find or hard to identify even if you have it.

Q: Given everything that Finch represents, when it comes to “Ignorance is bliss,” would you say yay or nay on that sentiment?

A: No. It is a low kind of temporary bliss, but not to be wished for anyone. I just think consciousness is important and that it should always be growing.

Kate Benz is the social columnist for Trib Total Media and can be reached at or 412-380-8515.

Source: TriveLive

Michael Emerson ‘Lost’ baddie turns good guy for CBS

(CNN) — For five years, Michael Emerson was the villain who stole just about every scene on “Lost.” (And he has the Emmy to prove it.)

He was such an important part of that landmark series that it only seemed to make sense that he ended up on the side of good, keeping watch on the island when it was all over.

Now Emerson is on the island of Manhattan, filming “Person of Interest,” one of the top dramas on television.

On the CBS sci-fi procedural, Emerson plays Finch, a mysterious genius whose creation, the Machine, can predict crimes before they happen. This time, his character’s motives are more pure.

Emerson spoke to CNN about settling into this new role, an accidental visit to the set of “Gossip Girl” and his old friend from “Lost,” Terry O’Quinn.

CNN: Now that you have a year under your belt, is Finch still a mystery to you?

Emerson: He’s still a bit mysterious to me. I play it every day and I hope I play it well. I don’t have a very elaborate mental biography for him, I must say. I think he must evidently be a lot like me, because whatever my instincts are about the scenes tend to be the things that get used.

CNN: Would you describe him as a good guy at this point?

Emerson: I don’t think his altruism is in doubt. If anything he has misgivings about the purity of his suicide mission for justice.

CNN: With so many productions going on in New York, I heard you had a run in with one of them.

Emerson: One day we were shooting downtown in the financial district. We just finished a scene and the company was breaking up to go to lunch. I don’t know if I stood and gabbed with somebody on the curb. Next thing, I looked up and couldn’t find anybody from our company, and I guess I zoned out when they drove me there in the van because I couldn’t remember which direction I came from. I started walking and I got to another camp and it looked like ours. But it was another show. [Laughs] I’m sure they would have fed me. I think it was [“Gossip Girl”].

What if it were more surreal or absurd, where characters from “Person of Interest” walked into “Big Bang Theory” or something like that? That’s a fun idea that has been completely unexplored.

CNN: Do you run into your old friend from “Lost,” Terry O’Quinn, who is shooting (the now-canceled-but-still-in-production) “666 Park Avenue?”

Emerson: It’s fun to have an old pal from the other island here on this island. He lives less than 20 blocks away from me. We get together every week or 10 days.

It is a bit [like old times]. It’s just the setting is more urban and we’re much better dressed. We both have really nice clothes in the shows we’re doing now.

CNN: What did you two have in common on “Lost?”

Emerson: To start with, we had age. We were both the oldest guys on that show. We had many more things in common: small town Midwestern backgrounds, and we both moved to big cities to pursue the unlikely dream of being an actor. We both ended up accidentally on a big series. We had some of the same work habits. We had so many things in common. We had a bunch of the best scenes on the series. It was good, intense, dark work and yet we had good laughs doing it.

CNN: So you were a villain and now you’re a hero.

Emerson: I’ll stick with that. Villains generally are more fun, but they’re hard to maintain. I guess anything is hard to maintain in TV land. I’m happy that my character on “Person of Interest” has enough ambiguity that it’s still compelling in that villain way, except he’s not. He does operate on the wrong side of the law so at least we have that.

CNN: Do you ever talk about projects you can do with your wife, Carrie Preston (“True Blood”)?

Emerson: We sometimes talk about plays we’d like to do together. That shows how our minds work.

I shot a few scenes with her on “Person of Interest,” which was a great pleasure. We’d never done TV work together.

CNN: What about a guest spot on “True Blood”?

Emerson: I’d be happy to do it, but I don’t think it’s ever going to happen. I can’t go on there and play anything sinister because I’ve kind of done that. I guess I could play an innocent. I’ve said I’d be happy to play a humble human who gets torn apart by supernatural beings.

The characters I like on that show are the most ancient ones. I like Godric. I like thinking about how he looks like he’s 19 but he’s 2000 years old.

CNN: And what was it like voicing the Joker in the “Dark Knight Returns” DVD movie?

Emerson: If I knew how significant it was to play that role in that franchise, I think I would have been terrified when I took it. I must have been busy or distracted, because I went in there carefree. I had not seen these recent big screen “Batmans.” That’s probably a blessing. Later when I saw Heath Ledger, I thought “Oh, God. If I’d have seen this, I might not have done it.” As it was, my only role model was Cesar Romero, and I thought, surely I can do as well as Cesar Romero.

CNN: Did you get to laugh?

Emerson: I did. It was a chance not to be repressed or contained. All the shows I do, it’s all about keeping a lid on it or staying small. When you play the Joker, the sky’s the limit. You can turn that thing up to 11.

I know it’s a franchise where people have very high expectations and loyalties to whomever has played before, so I hope they’ll accept me.

Source: CNN

Michael Emerson Stated Magazine Interview and Pics




By Jimmy Aquino, Pop Culture Contributing Editor

Back in April, I sat down with my friend of 20+ years, actor Michael Emerson, and recorded a lengthy interview for my podcast Comic News Insider (you can hear the full interview in Episode 396, but do forgive my babbling). Following his Emmy Award-winning performance as Benjamin Linus in Lost, he has gone on to star as Harold Finch in the hit CBS action drama, Person of Interest.

In this excerpt from that interview, we go all the way back to his childhood to dig up secrets such as his marching band skills of yore. He talks of how his love of theater began, his journey (with many stops and re-starts) to the path of becoming a working actor, his detour into magazine illustration, rediscovering the acting bug in Florida, meeting and courting his talented and lovely wife Carrie Preston at Alabama Shakespeare Festival, finding success in New York City theatre and eventually TV and film. Great tales of early survival in NYC in the late 70’s, the importance of Shakespeare to the English language, transitioning between Ibsen and Chekhov, escaping the island, faking an ecstasy trip, and never wanting to fight again.

Grab a good glass of bourbon and sip away as you read (and hear in the audio excerpts below) all about the fantastic Michael Emerson.



Michael Emerson, Jim Caviezel Discuss Person Of Interest


When last we saw the intrepid heroes from Person of Interest they were in a load of trouble. Finch (Michael Emerson) had been kidnapped by a highly intelligent tech opponent who has great plans for him…and the all-powerful machine. Now Reese (Jim Caviezel) is investigating on his own and must discover a way to use the machine to find and save his partner.

POI is back for a second season and the questions posed to Emerson and Caviezel in the SDCC press room didn’t really lead to any major answers. The actors are very good at stringing us along, but that’s the idea – we have to watch. Person of Interest – Thursdays at 9:00 PM on CBS.

POPCULTUREZOO: We found out that Finch’s identity was only started when he was at MIT. Do we learn why he had a false ID when at college?

EMERSON: I’m sure you will, one of these days. But I don’t want to tease you too much. I think a lot of what we’ll explore in this coming season will be fleshing out back stories of people. One of these days, obviously we have to learn how Finch got injured and there is a huge story to tell about the gradual construction of the machine. How did it get to be the omniscient apparatus that it is? There is some fun in the telling of that.

PCZ: Do you ever look at yourself in the mirror and ask “what am I up to”?

CAVIEZEL: I do that for him sometimes.

EMERSON: I always know what I’m up to.

PCZ: The relationship between the three main characters is so engrossing and there is so much chemistry even from the beginning. Can you talk about that?

EMERSON: I wish as an actor I could lay claim to things like chemistry. It kind of happens or doesn’t. I swear to you it’s a good bunch of actors and really its good writing.

PCZ: There was an aura of mistrust that seemed to permeate the first several episodes, but you’re still working together and you realize that you can make a difference. So by the end when Finch disappears and Reese finds the body – where is he at?

EMERSON: (Smiling.) I’m glad we’ve made you care at about what happens from there.

PCZ: How is Reese going to find Finch without help? Obviously he’s capable but he’s staring down at the machine asking for help. Any thoughts?

EMERSON: I think Finch was well aware of the character of John Reese and what he was capable of in case there was a contingency and we’re actually shooting that right now (mid-July). Basically, it’s interesting if someone found out that the machine spills out these numbers the machine obviously has some sort of… that he built into it, that would create something that would just come out nine numbers. But he left a clue there so that Reese would have to be able to figure it out and the audience would have to figure it out with him. That’s what I love about it.

We’re out of our rhythm and out of our comfort zone, because Finch is now being held hostage by a crazy woman, and that’s something were going to have to live through for a while.

CAVIEZEL: Little was left to chance.

PCZ: Will Reese be taking the blame for Cara Stanton’s actions?

CAVIEZEL: Could be. We don’t know it yet. You’ll have to ask (Jonathan) Nolan (creator/producer).

PCZ: Can you talk about what the reaction of fans is, especially in a convention like this?

EMERSON: I like that I’m on a show that attracts a more mature audience. I am constantly surprised of the age range of the people who want to talk to me about Person of interest. People older than me, even are watching the show and really liking it. And for once I’m on a show that my parents genuinely want to watch. (Laughter.) My parents live in Iowa, in a small town and when they turn on the TV in the morning it’s CBS and it stays on CBS until they go to bed at night. You know that kind of family, so I’m happy about that.

Source: Pop Culture Zoo

TV Choice Interview with Michael Emerson

Mysterious billionaire Harold Finch teams up with former CIA hitman John Reese to investigate and stop crime in new US drama Person Of Interest.

Finch has created and sold a computer programme to the Government that predicts terrorist acts, and as a by-product also indicates when other violent crimes are about to be committed. While the Government isn’t interested in this, Finch is, although the ‘machine’ can’t reveal whether the person it selects is the perpetrator or the victim.

Meanwhile, there are also plenty of flashbacks for both men as the show reveals how Reese came to be a drunken bum when Finch first meets him, why both are presumed dead, and why the billionaire has been crippled. Former Lost star Michael Emerson, who plays Finch, tells TV Choice more about the series, which also co-stars Jim Caviezel as John Reese…

What’s Person Of Interest about?
It’s a smart idea. I would call it a vigilante thriller for the cyber age.

There’s an interesting reference at the end of the pilot episode where Finch says they are both presumed dead. What happened, and did we detect Finch walking with a limp?
Yeah, he’s crippled for reasons that we will eventually find out but haven’t yet. I don’t know the answer but I think it’s fair to assume since you see him in flashback. You see as recently as five years ago that Finch was physically normal. Something has happened.

And I think the idea that they are both physically dead, it’s the only way that both of them can remain alive.