PERSON OF INTEREST: Michael Emerson and Jim Caviezel Share if They Want Their Characters to Survive
June 21, 2016 by Marisa Roffman
Sooner or later both of us will probably wind up dead. Actually dead, this time. I said I’d tell you the truth. Didn’t say you’d like it. – Harold Finch
When PERSON OF INTEREST’s Reese (Jim Caviezel) and Finch (Michael Emerson) set out on their unconventional partnership, the terms were clear: they would try and prevent untimely deaths, but it would very likely lead to one (or both) of them meeting their own end.
Certainly PERSON OF INTEREST has never been shy with death, as several of their allies have fallen in the years since the duo started on their mission. But, as of now, both men have managed to survive.
I visited the set of PERSON OF INTEREST last October, before the show’s fate was officially confirmed and either actor knew how the series would end, and asked whether they wanted their character to survive.
We’ve killed off so many people. I don’t know — what’s a good end for Mr. Finch? I never really think about him ending. He would be the last one, I think. But if he went out, he would do it as a sacrifice for another human, I’m sure.
Maybe there’s some sort of transformation in store for some of the characters. Something meta, cyber. I don’t know. Maybe there’s a way to be absorbed into the Machine somehow. We’ve never been out that far. And that would be a lot for a show that started out as a crime of the week, procedural. That would be a little cuckoo. But [executive producers] Jonah [Nolan] and Greg [Plageman] say they know the last scene and the last image. Who knows what it is? It’s better if it’s a surprise.
The laws of averages. It’s the laws of averages. Really, Jonah wrote right [the warning] from the beginning for Finch. The point being, everybody dies, but not everybody really lives, to quote BRAVEHEART. But that’s the truth. This is the first time he’s really had the chance to live, and he at least gets to go up against a formidable foe in Samaritan. He’s very intelligent; he doesn’t play regular chess — that’s what Finch does. I play speed chess. Go fast, hit the clock, attack. He’s always attacking, always on the offensive. And soon enough, you’ll think eventually you go down, but at least you’re fighting. You can say I fought the fight. Teddy Roosevelt: the guys in the ring, the warriors and gladiators in the ring, that other people might criticize and do, but he was all action.
I have no idea where they’re going to go with this story. Jonah, he’s Fort Knox. I never have. I never knew what it was. But I think they’ve assembled the best and the worst in all of us. The writers have been able to use parts of the lines that go through us.
I was on the show and our little guy had cancer, and I was flying home every weekend. I couldn’t even learn my lines, barely. I had to use boards — I could remember the intention, but as far as getting it right and then the 15-18 hour days. 15 was the average day, there 18, 19 hour days, because they’re figuring out how to make the show. Plus, Jonah did the Fraturdays. I asked people that were on the show, “I can’t believe how hard this is. Have you ever done a show that’s this hard?” Everyone on the crew said, “No show is as hard as this one.” But hard is good, because you have a shot for greatness. Why? You have more shots. You get more coverage. In fact, you watch shows now that are doing what we do — or trying to do that — and that’s because of Nolan. This guy is Orson Wells. You know he’s not normal. Terry Malick is not normal. Few people that I have met have that genius level. But he comes off as a very self-deprecating kind of guy. But he and his buddy Elon Musk, they’re gifted. They can pretty much do what any 20 guys can do. His mind operates, and it’s quite extraordinary. I’m really glad he saw that I fit into this world. It’s been a great role. Whether we go another year or two or none, this show will be completed. [PERSON OF INTEREST producer] J.J. Abrams wrote me a note and said, “Many of my shows didn’t get completed.” For whatever reason, political or studio, the old guys moved on, etc. You usually don’t get to finish it. “But this one,” he said, “will get completed. There will be a beginning, middle, and end.”
PERSON OF INTEREST’s series finale airs tonight at 10 PM on CBS.
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