“Person of Interest” star Michael Emerson likes to capture the wit, lightheartedness of his characters

Michael Emerson shares details on starring in the hit CBS drama “Person of Interest” and the iconic series “Lost.”
BY MELISSA HAYER mhayer@opubco.com Modified: February 7, 2013 at 5:13 pm •  Published: February 8, 2013
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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.

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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.”

Michael Emerson talking about his character on “Person of

Interest”,
talking about his character on “Person of

Interest”

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