By LAURI NEFF
NEW YORK — Michael Emerson has played a serial killer, a mysterious, villainous Island leader and currently stars as a billionaire computer genius on “Person of Interest.”
But he says playing the romantic interest for his real life wife has been his most unsettling role.
Emerson plays the off-beat Harold Finch in “Person of Interest,” which airs Thursdays at 10 p.m. Eastern. His wife Carrie Preston has a recurring role as Finch’s former fiance, who believes he is dead
The couple has acted together in a few independent films and Preston even played Emerson’s mother in an episode of ABC’s “Lost,” but this was their first romantic pairing. This season even showed the characters’ first kiss.
“Neither of us are the kind to get a lot romantic work in front of the camera so for us to get a big old languid first kiss with music underneath it and everything — that’s a first in my career,” he said.
Emerson said having his wife play his love interest can be tricky: “It’s a little hard to turn off her wife-ness to me to make her just this other character.”
Still, the Emmy-winning actor said he’s happy to have his better half on set — even though he didn’t help get her there. “Maybe Jonah (writer Jonathan Nolan) called me on the phone and said, `Would you have a problem if we asked your wife to play a character that we’re working on?’ And I said, `No.’ That’s how much I politicked to get her the part. I was completely unaware of it.”
Preston, who also appears in “True Blood” and “The Good Wife,” also found working with him a little strange but that nothing was more bizarre for them than watching the kiss on TV.
“We both sat and watched it together at home on the sofa and we got all kind of giggly and shy about it. It was like we didn’t know how to look at each other,” he said. “It’s like, `Oh God, there we are. We’re kissing.’”