- Following ‘Lost,’ Michael Emerson has settled into hit series ‘Person of Interest’
- He spends lots of time with former co-star Terry O’Quinn on a new island, New York
- Emerson voices the Joker in an upcoming animated film
- Emerson’s wife, Carrie Preston of ‘True Blood,’ guest stars this week
To view a larger version of this photo, click here.
(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.
Jimmy Aquino and Michael Emerson have been friends for many, many years. If you ever listen to any of the many interviews that Mr. Aquino has done with Michael Emerson (CNI) , you can sense how relaxed Michael Emerson is when talking to Aquino. You can also sense that they have a history together and that they do like each other. Here’s a great and recent interview Jimmy Aquino made for Stated Magazine. There are some new information even for the die-hard Michael Emerson Fan. Enjoy~Edith
By Jimmy Aquino, Pop Culture Contributing Editor
|You can view the larger version of this photo here.|
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.
A few years ago, I had (I’m not bragging, but telling the truth) one of the best photo galleries about Michael Emerson. Unfortunately, my webserver (yes, I keep my own webserver and it broadbands from my home) died. The photos are still there. One day, we will recover them. Till then, I will upload those old pictures one by one. Today, I uploaded a few more. Here are thumbprints of the new uploaded photos.
While I was out sick, I was awaiting for permission to post these huge photos of Michael Emerson. I received my permission, so I am posting them in them Michael Emerson Photo Gallery. Granted that they may be outdated, but nonetheless, they are beautiful pictures and are big enough for color prints for autograph seekers.
Here are some teasers:
To view the larger size, as well as additional photos, click here.
I apologize for not having updated this site for over a month. And here’s why:
There comes a time in our lives that we realize that we are mortals. Some of us realize as death hits in the face and then we leave the world of living. Some of us, face our mortality with a sudden illness that somehow gives us another chance. I faced my mortality twice. Once on March 30, 2009, when I went to the hospital with high fever and a cough that wouldn’t let go. I was admitted at midnight and by 8 am, I failed to be able to breath. Luckily, rapid responders saved my life. I woke up 4 days later in ICU. I was indubated and was told that my heart was attacked by a virus. I was lucky to be alive. I was also told that according to the rules of thirds, I won over the first: I was alive, as one third whose heart were attacked by a virus, would die, one third stay the same, and one third would get better. Once again, I was lucky, within a few times, I got better.
Three years has passed, and on November 5, 2012, an ambulance took me the hospital unable to breathe, after once again catching a cold that gave me high fever and an incessant cough that made unable to breathe. I passed out as we reached the emergency room and woke up 3 days later in the ICU and found a large tube down my throat. Once again, I was intubated. This time, I found out what hit me in 2009, hit me again in 2012. But now, the condition had a new name. It was no longer a virus that attacked my heart. During the interval from 2009 to 2012, my condition had a name: Takostubo Cardiomyopathy. Takotsubo is know as the “heart break” disease. Most people get it when they experience an extremely emotional state that they cannot cope it. The heart is suddenly deluged with a high concentration of adrenalin that it cannot cope it. The heart distorts its shape and, if help comes about right away, the chance of recovery is very positive.
Unfortunately, my affliction was not caused by emotional or psychological stress. It was caused by physical stress. We can attempt to diminish emotional and psychological stress. It’s hard to prevent physical stress. Colds are always around and who knows which one will be the one that will once again knock me out. The third time, I may not be so lucky. Although, I hope that it won’t be so. Nonetheless, I am well aware of my mortality, and hence, I am writing to all of you requesting a favor. I need a partner. Someone I can trust to help me run the site. If you are interested, please contact me by clicking here. Remember, it’s a volunteer job. Do it for the love of Michael Emerson’s career.
I’m including a blog post about the Person of Interest panel discussion at New York City’s 2012 ComicCon that I recently came across. The original post can be located here. You will be able to find additional photos that do not include Michael Emerson (other photos and larger version of the photo included here of Michael Emerson can be viewed here) and an audion clip of the panel discussion is located a the link I provided earlier.
I learned how much people loved Person of Interest while standing in line for the NYCC panel. Wherever I looked during my two days at NYCC, I spied people of all ages — but mostly kids in their 20s — rocking pink hair and latex pants. But, on the POI line, I noticed racially diverse, normally dressed people in their 30s and above. That’s when it hit me. These people didn’t care about comics, the DCverse, the Marvelverse or the Whedonverse — all they cared about was the Nolanverse. And, that’s why they came. For half an hour, I listened to people express their anger at seat hoarders who didn’t care about Carter, Reese, Finch or the dog, Bear, while another woman laid out her plans for buying a 3-day pass for 2013 JUST to see NEXT YEAR’s Person of Interest panel. Last year, I never experienced difficulty finding a seat in any NYCC panel. This year … not so much. The room was PACKED.
Once inside the panel, you could tell how hardcore the POI fans were from their frenetic energy during the POI teaser reel. It was hilarious watching the two year old in the stroller fuss while her parents — avid fans — watched the panel instead. For this season’s surprises, Reese and Zoe will go undercover as a married couple; Finch will appeal to Elias for help; Lionel’s past will return to bite him in the ass; Reese gets shot; Mark Pelligrino will guest; and our favorite victim from season two’s premiere will return. While I learned a lot from the press room interviews (which I will release shortly), each of the actors shared a lot in the panel itself. And, every time an actor appeared on stage, the crowd went wild displaying their true, hardcore love. Although the rest of this post will focus on the Person of Interest panel, it’d be wrong if I didn’t first call out the dedication of the Person of Interest fans.
The audience responded well to Taraji P. Henson who shook her money-maker upon entrance, exhibiting her sassier real life self. She believes her character works with Finch because of his good deeds and joked it’s difficult working in a department where no one’s “clean” while looking at her on-screen partner, Kevin Chapman, aka Lionel Fusco. Weighing in on the Carter character, Jonah called Carter the show’s heart. The show follows her journey chasing the two males while learning she has more in common with them then she initially believed.
Regarding his own character, Chapman spoke about his acting process. He only reads his scenes before shooting and not the entire script, so that he doesn’t have more knowledge than his character does, which explains Fusco’s believable ignorance.
Although the POI-ites quieted when Jonah spoke, they didn’t appear any less rapt. During the panel Jonah revealed his inspiration for the show, having read books on artificial intelligence. He grew up watching the X-Files and loved the story of the week with gradual character development amongst the two leads. (So, HAH, to everyone who pooh-poohed my X-files-POI theory! Note: I say that lovingly.) He calls POI a science fiction show grounded in reality and joked that all of the writers wear “tin foil hats.” He’s a big Joss Whedon fan and tingled when J.J. approached him with the idea. The show will remain in New York, because he loves it and feels it’s one of the most watched places on the planet. Jonah spent the summer figuring out the Dewey Decimal system we witnessed in the season two premiere and loves the parallel between the ancient print catalog system and the bits and bytes of the Machine’s artificial intelligence. He thinks it’s ironic that they now film the show’s sky-view angles using robotic cameras and talked a lot about the iPhone’s Siri, which I mentioned in the premiere. He wanted a show to incorporate cable’s level of quality.
Although Michael Emerson, Amy Acker and Kevin Chapman received equal audience love, Bear — with his trainer — and pretty boy James Caviezel received the most. Jonah claimed he wrote Bear in because it’s a dog loving staff and he wanted Michael Emerson’s pooch to have company. Although Emerson smiled, he talked more to the show itself. The writers laid out the conflicts well and he enjoys the growing Machine friction. He likes being the burr under the audience’s saddle and admits he was fascinated with Root. He feels both Root and Finch had a type of courtship, but admits Finch isn’t the best for romantic partnerships.
They cast Amy as Root after the character’s introduction, but sent her episode 13’s script to give her a feeling. Unfortunately, she had just cut her hair (which she discussed in our press room interview). Both Jonah and Gregg told her they wanted Root closer to her personality. Although Amy describes herself as crazy, she’s also incredibly bubbly.
While Jim arrived late, he was definitely missed. The crowd raised to a not-at-all dull roar when he appeared, joking that he stopped to fight crime while revealing he performs 85% of his own stunts. If you can’t hear anything on the tape, that’s Jim speaking. He admitted he does a lot of looping post-filming because of his low voice. He reasons it away stating, he’s a CIA operative talking about state secrets in the middle of the city. Would you really raise your voice? No. Point taken, Mr. Caviezel.
Overall, I enjoyed the panel and the hints dropped by all. It’s a good cast and you could tell the audience loved them. The reason I wanted to give credit to the POI fans in the beginning is because, last year NYCC featured an un-announced one hour presentation of the pilot. This year we received the entire cast, including Bear and his trainer, one of the executive producers and ROOT. Would we have had that if not for the Person of Interest fans, the CaReese fans, the Zeese lovers, the Finch fiends/Michael Emerson lovers and everything in between? I think not. So don’t mess with a Person of Interest fan, and don’t mess with the show. As you can tell good things are coming our way.