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TV Campfire Podcast interviewed Michael Emerson on June 13, 2016.

Here’s the audio:

And here’s the actual transcript:

Q: In an earlier episode, Elias said that there was always a darkness in the quiet ones. In the interrogation room in the 100th episode [The Day the Earth Went Away] there were some real layers of angers being revealed in Harold that he was keeping in check this whole time. What did you think of that scene and how did you play it?

MICHAEL EMERSON: I didn’t think too much about it. It seemed to explain itself to me as it went along. [Harold’s] in a state of shock and exhaustion, and it looks like everyone he cared about is either dead or doomed. And all his life’s work has blown up in his face. So I think he’s just mad as hell at himself and fed up.

Q: Do you think Harold is aware of the kind of darkness Elias is talking about? Do you think that is why he chose to cripple the Machine? Because he sees the machine as a reflection of himself?

MICHAEL EMERSON: Has he subconsciously put limits on the power of the Machine because he feels he needs limits himself? Like there is some ungovernable Id inside him and he fears that might also be true of the machine?

Q: Yes.

MICHAEL EMERSON: He sees it played out in practical terms by Samaritan, which is an ungoverned artificial intelligence.


Q: The weight of Elias and Root’s death… How do you see that effecting Harold going forward?

MICHAEL EMERSON: The weight all falls on him. He’s made all this happen. Now he must take personal responsibility for correction, for undoing damage. He can’t put anybody else on the line.

Q: So he’s by himself now?

MICHAEL EMERSON: Yeah, he’s on his own. I think he’s going to take on a kind of suicide mission now.

Q: Harold said he didn’t name the Machine because he wanted it to name itself and he didn’t give it a voice so it could choose it’s own voice. Then there is the moment when he gets the call and it’s Root’s voice. Do you think the Machine is honoring Root or is that just creepy?


MICHAEL EMERSON: He left it up to the Machine and the Machine chose the human voice that it had had the most contact with. The voice that it understood best, the voice with which it had the most data. Its logical, but it’s also kind of wonderful and strange. It provides a kind of odd immortality for Root. It allows her to go on.

Q: In the wedding episode, did the writers design Uncle Ralph just so that you’d have to do an Irish brogue? How much fun was that to play?

MICHAEL EMERSON: It was a lot of fun to play and no one ever gave me an answer about how or why they came up with that character. Sometimes I think they just like to see if I can do it. So I thought all right here we go! Let’s take a crack at this.

Q: How did you enjoy the singing?

MICHAEL EMERSON: Well the singing was terrifying, but I don’t worry too much about singing. I’ve done a little singing in plays, musicals and stuff in my day so I know I can carry a tune. I don’t have what you would call a pretty voice. In this case it’s not really me singing it’s this drunk Irish guy. So when it’s totally immersed in a character I don’t mind too much.

Q: That felt like the last light note in the series.

MICHAEL EMERSON: Yeah, now there’s nothing light hearted maybe ever again.

Q: Why was it so important for you guys to keep Fusco in the dark for so long? His investigation was going to get him in more danger than you guys just telling him what was going on.

MICHAEL EMERSON: That’s the conclusion that the team ultimately came to, but it was an earnest attempt to keep Samaritan off his back. To keep him safe and to keep him operable and above ground. If none of them show their faces above ground without Samaritan getting on them, then it was important to have someone whose cover was perfect and who had freedom of movement. But he was right to feel left out and angry about it for sure.

Q: Do you miss the camaraderie between Reese and Finch that was there in the first couple of seasons… that is missing now?

MICHAEL EMERSON: The team grew and they became teams within the team. This season, or the last couple of seasons, Finch has had more to do with Root. As the show became more philosophical the dramatic tension was between their two visions of the Machine. It was less about the clash of personalities between Finch and Reese, which we explored a lot in the first three seasons. I don’t know if the writers felt as if they had done what they could in that way. Eventually, Reese and Finch got along so well; they weren’t really the odd couple they were when they started. They still ended up on the same page, you know…

"Shotseeker" -- Reese protects an NYPD analyst whose investigation into a software glitch has drawn the attention of Samaritan. Also, Reese and Fusco are threatened by an ally of Elias, who is looking for revenge for his friend's death, on PERSON OF INTEREST, Tuesday, May 17 (10:00 -- 11:00 PM ET/PT) on the CBS Television Network. Pictured L-R: Michael Emerson as Harold Finch and Jim Caviezel as John Reese Photo: Giovanni Rufino/Warner Bros. Entertainment Inc. ©2015 WBEI. All rights reserved.

Q: The complexity of Finch’s relationship with Root, how would you define that?

MICHAEL EMERSON: They were two people who were polar opposites philosophically, who drifted closer to each other in the center in the course of four seasons. She was a radical outlaw to begin with, and he is so structured and rule abiding. And yet, their shared concern for the Machine helped them overcome their differences. He civilized her and she brought out some of his more criminal tendencies. She made him a little more daring. He played less by the rules when she was around.

Q: If you could go back to season one, what would you tell yourself about playing Harold Finch?

MICHAEL EMERSON: Well, there is a practical thing I would tell myself, and that is, don’t work so hard at the limp and fused vertebra. That’s been a lot of physical work over the course of five seasons. I could have saved myself some pain and physical therapy, had I a little lighter touch with all of that. [laughs] In terms of playing the role I would tell myself to do what I did which is to take it script by script and be confident that the writers will take care of character evolution over the course of a long series.

Q: Now that the series is over for you [no spoilers], are you happy with the end that Harold got at the end of his journey?

MICHAEL EMERSON: Yes! And I think the viewers will be too. Harold solves the problem and probably saves the world by doing something fairly radical, which didn’t occur to me before we shot it. But I think it’s pretty good. It’ll be worth thinking about and discussing [laughs].

Q: Do have any upcoming projects you want to tell your fans about?

MICHAEL EMERSON: I don’t have anything planned and I don’t have a job in the foreseeable future, but all my life, sooner or later some work came along. I never have been able to predict it. I’m not a person that has a bucket list of shows or roles that I would like to play. Everything that I’ve ever gotten, that was successful, always came out of left field in a way that took me by surprise. I guess I’m waiting for that to happen again. We were pretty worn out when we finally wrapped “Person of Interest.” This last season was shot hard and fast. The days were long and the material was dark so I’ve been enjoying recovering a little bit and recharging my battery.

Q: If you were the head of a network is there some type of character you would love to play?

MICHAEL EMERSON: I would like to play a character in a period [piece] and I would like to play for comedy. I don’t know what that means exactly. When I was on stage I was always in funny plays and funny roles. I have had such a string of darkish characters that I have played on TV. It would be kinda nice to be a little light hearted for a spell.

Q: Any other last comments you want to get out there?

MICHAEL EMERSON: I’m still kinda reeling from last night’s episode [The Day the Earth Went Away]. Even though I’ve read the script, you don’t really know how the thing will come together until you see it broadcast. So often it’s just a bunch of disconnected scenes you shot out of order. It was always just a mad scramble just to stick the lines, get the day’s work done, but I’m so pleasantly and proudly surprised at what a strong episode it was and how heartbreaking… It was very nice.

Larger versions of the photos featured in this article can be viewed here:


Additional and larger photos are available here.

Michael Emerson sings (sort of) “We’re not going to take it” in an Irish accent in Episode 6 of Season 5 of Person of Interest. Enjoy:


Larger versions can be viewed here.

Before the airing of the Season 5 premiere of Person of Interest,  MStars News had an exclusive interview with actors Michael Emerson and Kevin Chapman talk about the return of Harold Finch and Lionel Fusco in the war between The Machine and Samaritan.

From the beginning, former billionaire Harold Finch (Emerson) and ex CIA operative John Reese (Jim Caviezel) raced against the clock to prevent violent crimes before they could happen. With the help of the artificial intelligence known as The Machine, they managed to save innocent lives right when their numbers popped up. But they never expected to go up against an even greater threat known as Samaritan.

In the fourth season finale,YHWH concluded with Team Machine fighting for their lives. With no gun whatsoever, Finch walked out in slow motion alongside Reese and Root as they started shooting down Samaritan’s agents. Finch had a briefcase with a blinking light, signifying the Machine’s fading heartbeat.

MStars News: Fusco had a close call when Elias (Enrico Colantoni) and Dominic (Winston Duke) were shot down by Samaritan.

Kevin Chapman: Fusco has a lot of unanswered questions. He kinda goes rogue a little bit. He’s conducting his own kind of investigations. He knows that there is something going on. But he’s not sure what it is. But he intends to find out.

MStars News: What is Harold Finch’s mindset now when the show returns?

Michael Emerson: He’s in full improvised mode. It’s a mad scramble. They’re all doomed! [Laughs] They’re all doomed because Samaritan is in charge. They have to go even deeper underground. Priority one is to reboot The Machine. Without The Machine, there’s nothing they can do.

MS: The role of Fusco has allowed you to show off your dramatic and comedic side. Do you prefer when the tone of the episode turns lighter or more serious?

KC: The comedic side is my personality. It’s me being a clown! [Laughs] It’s always great to play a character with a sense of duality. Is he a good guy doing bad things? Or is he a bad guy doing good things? It goes from performance to performance. You try not to judge the characters. You leave that up to the viewership; how they see the character. It’s always nice to play someone on the dark side.

MS: Last season, Reese attempted to teach Harold how to use a gun. Will Finch have to change his stance on guns after the fourth season finale?

ME: As the threats surrounding them, dire and terrifying, Mr. Finch might have to make some adjustments to certain ethical decisions. He might have to think of the possibility of violence.

MS: How is Finch’s relationship with Reese at this point?

ME: Mr. Finch is depressed I guess you can say. Things are not going well. He’s not sure that the thing he’s built is doing what it should be doing. Was it all possible for not? He and men like him have seen the world and wonder if it’s doing mankind any good. I do think he needs something. It’s a crisis of faith. Maybe he needs a little bucking up.

MS: Do you feel the pacing of the show has changed because the season came down to 13 episodes?

KC: I don’t think our pacing has increased at all. I think we’ve maintained that. I think the writing has gone to a new level. I think people are going to be pleasantly surprised. We’re a show that does 9 million live. And then another 3 to 4 million. It’s a very unique situation. You have roughly 13 million people watching you every week.

MS: In the fourth season finale, The Machine called Finch its “Father.” Will we see more of that relationship develop in the remaining episodes?

ME: I thought that was an important scene. I’m really attached to that business of that relationship. Mr. Finch tries to put a show of no personal feelings for the Machine. And yet, you see that the Machine is so human. Now he’s just confused. His parental instincts have stuck. He has feelings for the thing he has made. It’s sad and wonderful at the same time.

MS: Because this is the final season, what strikes your mind when you look back on Person of Interest?

KC: We talked a lot about topics that the world really didn’t address. You look at the Eric Snowden stuff. We were talking about that stuff 2 years prior to that stuff. That’s really cool to me to be a part of something like that. It makes people look and go and, “Whoa! Maybe there is something!”

CBS recently started airing the Season 5 premiere of Person of Interest. MStars News interviewed actors Michael Emerson and Kevin Chapman and they talked about the return of Harold Finch and Lionel Fusco in the war between The Machine and Samaritan.

Person of Interest’s story arc, from the beginning, is about the former billionaire Harold Finch (Emerson) and ex-CIA operative John Reese (Jim Caviezel) racing against the clock to prevent violent crimes before they could happen. With the help of the artificial intelligence known as The Machine, they manage to save innocent lives right up to when their numbers popped up. But they never expected to go up against an even greater threat known as Samaritan.

In the fourth season finale, YHWH, concluded with Team Machine fighting for their lives. With no gun whatsoever, Finch walked out in slow motion alongside Reese and Root as they started shooting down Samaritan’s agents. Finch had a briefcase with a blinking light, signifying the Machine’s fading heartbeat.

Enjoy the interview: Read the rest of this entry »

Read the rest of this entry »

Michael Emerson said the following about the end of Person Interest series:

“I had always thought it was a possibility. Other people in the company seemed to think it would go on forever. I wasn’t super-surprised.”

Here’s his interview in Examiner.com Read the rest of this entry »

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