By Bekah Wright | Compass – Tue, Apr 9, 2013
Watch the characters Michael Emerson plays – i.e. Harold Finch on CBS’ “Person of Interest” and Ben Linus on the former ABC series “Lost” — and there’s definitely something they have in common – their brilliant minds are always at work. The same could be said for the actor, himself. Which leads one to wonder… how does he spend his vacation? And, might The Machine have come in handy on his honeymoon?
What’s something you never fail to pack in your suitcase?
Carry-on or check-in?
I’m a big fan of checking luggage, even if it’s small enough to put in the overhead container. I want to be civilized; I don’t want to be struggling, pushing fat things into skinny places over people’s heads. I want to just zip in and sit down.
Window or aisle?
What’s your idea of the perfect vacation?
We take so few, my wife (actress Carrie Preston) and I. Quiet time somewhere where the world can’t get at us.
Tell us about a vacation you’ve taken that’s come close thus far.
I joined Carrie in Barcelona when she was shooting the Woody Allen movie “Vicky Cristina Barcelona.” We stayed on for a little while after she was done working. It was just the most delightful city. It was a walking city; not so jammed with things you have to do, with a city like London or Paris, so it was relaxing.
Any favorite spots there?
We had breakfast every day at a café in an old, cobbled square behind a church. It had a nice, old Europe romance about it.
What’s the worst vacation you’ve taken?
We chose poorly for our honeymoon. We were tired, stressed out and had been going 100 miles an hour for weeks. We decided to go to London. All of a sudden there were so many things we thought we had to do – shows, historical sites, museums. We crashed and burned. It was within a week of our marriage and I’d say one of the darkest times in our marriage.
Where has been your favorite film/television shooting location?
We worked at some stunning locations in Hawaii on “Lost.” Those black rock outcroppings on the southeast side of Oahu are unbelievable. They’re like something from another world. I’ll also never forget spending three months shooting “The Legend of Zorro” in San Luis Potosi, a town in Mexico most tourists don’t go to. That was the most cultural immersion I ever got. In three months you have time to become a kind of citizen in a foreign town like that.
What’s the most unusual souvenir you’ve ever come back with?
For a long time, I tried to collect cultural masks from places I visited. They’re hard to get home because they’re fragile. You end up trying to figure out if they should be carry-on, or checked in your bag surrounded by underwear. Now I’m more interested in textiles – weavings, hangings or rugs. Those you can just fold up and throw in your suitcase.
Ever try a food you wished you hadn’t?
Nothing that bit back in the moment. I did find, after three months in Mexico, the heaviness of the cuisine was beginning to take a toll on my stomach. But it was good!
Favorite hotel you’ve ever stayed in?
We stayed in Rome a few years ago at the Grand Hotel de La Minerve; it’s on a little square behind the Pantheon on the Piazza de La Minerve. The Church of Santa Maria Sopra Minerva is there. It was once a Roman temple dedicated to the goddess Minerva, then the church was built on top of it. The hotel had sufficient luxury to be comfortable, but yet it felt from another world, too. It was so perfectly placed in the middle of everything. You stepped out the front door and you were in just the place you wanted to be in Rome.
Biggest regret you’ve ever had while on vacation.
I always have the same great – that I over-structure my time. My secondary regret is that there isn’t enough time.
The one thing you’re willing to splurge on above all else?
Carrie and I are fond of saying our prosperity should buy us convenience if nothing else. What I’ll splurge on is not having to wait on a bargain. Or being able to take a more direct and comfortable mode of transportation. I don’t mean first-class air travel, because I’m not sure that’s a good deal, I mean taking a higher class or train or hiring a car when traveling in a foreign land. Those kinds of things are worthwhile.
Three songs (or artists) on your travel playlist?
I intentionally don’t listen to music on the flight. I don’t know why people don’t want to look out window or read. There are about five or 10 things I’d do before I’d listen to music.
Where would you take someone visiting your hometown for the first time?
I grew up in a tiny little farm town, Toledo, Iowa. As tiny as my hometown is, there’s a charming, old opera house, Wieting Theatre. I performed plays there as a teenager. My grandmother played the piano accompaniment to silent movies there, too.
You only get one more trip in your lifetime. Where will it be?
The windswept islands off the west coast of Scotland.
Larger version of the photo featured in this story can be viewed here.
at The Lucille Lortel Theatre
GALA BENEFIT PERFORMANCE: Join special guests Michael Emerson, Richard Thomas, Roberta Maxwell, Jack O’Brien, Kathleen Chalfant, Everett Quinton, Jeanine Serralles, Rocco Sisto, Stephen Spinella, Byron Jennings, Drew Cortese, Matthew Rauch, Marc Vietor and more for a special VIP performance and Opening Night Party. $100 for benefit performance & party. $250 for pre-show VIP cocktails, benefit performance & party.
How do you celebrate your anniversary? Chocolates? Jewelry? The Danse Macabre?
After 25 years of marriage, Edgar and Alice really know how to tie a knot, especially when old friend and cousin Gustav pays a visit. Join us for the revels ~ Don’t miss this masterful tragicomic vivisection of love and marriage.
In a new adaptation by
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April 10–May 4
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Sunday, April 14, 7pm
BENEFIT GALA PERFORMANCE & PARTY
Join special guests Michael Emerson, Richard Thomas, Michael Urie, Jack O’Brien, Roberta Maxwell, Byron Jennings, Everett Quinton, Matthew Rauch, Jeanine Serralles, Rocco Sisto, Stephen Spinella, Drew Cortese, Marc Vietor and more for a VIP Performance and Party.
Emmy Award-winning actor Michael Emerson enjoys looking for the comical elements in his characters, even in the more serious or darker ones.
“I often feel like I’m the secret comedian in any of the shows that I’m in, even though it doesn’t really show that much. But I do try to let that creep in there a little bit. I like to have my characters have some wit, get off a good line or a bit of sarcasm.”
The Iowa native, 58, stars as mysterious billionaire Harold Finch in the hit drama “Person of Interest,” airing at 8 p.m. Thursdays on CBS.
Finch is also a software genius who has invented a computer program that can identify people about to be involved in violent crimes, but he is unable to determine if they will be the perpetrators or the victims.
Finch has recruited presumed-dead former CIA agent John Reese (Jim Caviezel) to assist him in finding out which role the “person of interest” is playing, and to help him in preventing these crimes.
Taraji P. Henson and Kevin Chapman also star in the series, and Emerson’s wife, Carrie Preston (“True Blood”), has guest starred.
“Person of Interest” includes among its executive producers J.J. Abrams, whose Bad Robot Productions also was involved with the widely popular drama “Lost,” in which Emerson starred as the cryptic villain Ben Linus.
Emerson shared details about his work on “Person of Interest,” and a bit about “Lost,” during a recent phone interview with The Oklahoman.
Q: What appeals the most to you about playing Harold Finch?
A: I like being the guy that delivers all the exposition, and I like the challenge of trying to keep that interesting, or even to be able to get on top of exposition and technical jargon and make it lively and surprising if possible.
And that’s a hard job, because on most shows about espionage or adventure or police and law procedurals, there’s someone who does a lot of exposition, but sometimes you want them to stop talking and get onto the action part.
So, I’m happy to try to do what I can with what some actors would feel like (are) some of the duller parts.
Q: How is Jim Caviezel alike or different from Reese?
A: Jim has a quiet dimension to him that informs the character of Reese. What you don’t get when you watch Mr. Reese on our show is how silly Jim can be and what a comedian he is. Maybe because he and I play in shows that are so dark and urgent, it’s just natural that comedy boils up on the flip side of it.
Q: Is your wife going to be back on “Person of Interest” anytime soon?
A: Yeah, you’re going to see more of the character of Grace on “Person of Interest” in a highly dramatic way. It’ll be a ways off, closer to the end of this season.
Q: Thanks to Reese, Finch has acquired a pet this season. How is working with “Bear” the dog?
A: It’s interesting. I really love that development as far as narrative and character goes. It’s nice that there’s this unlikely soft spot in Mr. Finch’s life. At the same time, it’s also hard work.
We have a brilliant dog. The dog that plays Bear is a national champion obedience dog and he’s going to the world championships this spring, and will likely win there. He’s highly trained, highly motivated and has a lot of energy, but he doesn’t know acting from acting, he just knows commands.
It takes time to get him to hit the right mark, to hit the mark and to be looking in the right direction, that kind of thing. There’s a lot of trickery with the placement of treats, and wherever you want the dog to look, that must be where the trainer is standing because he pays attention to the trainer at all times. There are certain logistical challenges to it, so those scenes are great, but they take time to shoot.
Q: What was your overall experience working on “Lost?”
A: It was a great adventure and it was for me, the actor, a bit like it was for the character, I think. Because there I was uprooted and plopped down in an island in the middle of the vast ocean, and I lived out this kind of fantasy life of like kids running around in the jungle with guns and playing these plots and schemes and dangers and supernatural elements. My experience, I think, was a lot like the castaways’ experience, and, then, when it was over, it seemed a bit like a dream, like “Did I do that?” “Was I on that island for all those years?”
Q: How often do you still receive comments about “Lost?”
A: A lot. On the street every day. Every day I run into someone who says, “Excuse me, are you Michael Emerson? I was just wanting to say how much I liked ‘Lost.’”
Ever wonder what is Michael Emerson’s favorite app for his iPhone? Well, Adrienne Gaffney of the Wall Street Journal asked him, as well as other celebrities and got an answer: Here’s Michael Emerson’s answer:
Michael Emerson58, actor who starred on ‘Lost,’ which won him his second Emmy Award. He currently appears on ‘Person of Interest.’Mr. Emerson uses an iPhone.
WSJ: What apps do you use?
Mr. Emerson: I have this thing called TuneIn Radio which allows you to listen to stations and anything that’s streaming, all over the country and I guess all over the world. A lot of times we’re on location in remote places or in the bottoms of buildings where you can’t get a regular radio signal and I can pick all my local New York favorites. You can select by category, blues or children’s music or college radio stations and just pick whatever you want. I’m such a radio person. I swear I listen to more radio than I watch TV.
I use TuneIn Radio when I’m at work or on location. But I’ll play it the whole time when I’m in my trailer or in my dressing room at the stage.
WSJ: Is there an app that you had that you stopped using?
Mr. Emerson: I’m about ready to get rid of my dictionary app. I keep asking it for words that it doesn’t know. So I’m tired of that. I guess I need the OED (Oxford English Dictionary) or something like that as an app. I should really explore that and get a more powerful dictionary engine because I keep stumping my own dictionary. That’s not right.
To view the other celebrities and their answers, just click here.