ScienceFiction.com was able to sit down with actor Michael Emerson who plays Mr. Harold Finch in the CBS series ‘Person of Interest‘ and asked him a few questions about the show as well as the upcoming season. Mr. Finch is the creator of an Artificial Intelligence known as “The Machine” that has been providing Finch and his team information to help prevent violent crimes. Last season ended with the Machine dying and Season Five is set to continue the story and rebuilding of the Machine.
While Season Five has not yet premiered, WGN America will start showing episodes of ‘Person of Interest’ starting September 1st.
ScienceFiction.com: For viewers who have never seen Person of Interest before, why should they watch the show on WGN?
Michael Emerson: It’s just a great show with unusual characters that people might get attached to.
ScienceFiction.com: What do you think has been the biggest change in Finch has been over the last four seasons and going into Season Five?
Michael Emerson: The biggest change in Finch is that he has let people in. He has allowed himself to have feelings for Mr. Reese and all the people that he works with. He especially quickly warms to people who are as clever with computers as he is. Even a character like Root who was so dangerous and scary for so long, I think he has a soft spot in his heart for her because she is so taken with The Machine and so vulnerable to the Machines feelings about her. There’s another chance for him to be a kind of Uncle or Father to her.
ScienceFiction.com: ‘Person of Interest’ is going into it’s fifth season this year, tell us, what is the biggest lesson your character, Finch, has taught you over the last four seasons?
Michael Emerson: Well I supposed the lesson I get from him is that if you are in for a penny you should be in for a pound. You have to go all the way.
ScienceFiction.com: After four seasons, you know the characters well by now, if you could be any other character on the show, who would you be, and why?
Michael Emerson: If I had to be another character, I’d be another jollier creator of an Artificial Intelligence. Someone that had more fun. Someone who is more insane.
ScienceFiction.com: Are you ever envious of Amy Acker’s ability to kick butt and fire guns or Jim Caviezel’s action scenes? Have you ever wanted to have more action for Finch?
Michael Emerson: No. Every once in a while Mr. Finch gets to do something a little violent. It’s usually against his will, it’s kind of charming when he does. Like when he knocked that guy off that motor scooter last season with the umbrella, that’s fun. Personally it would be alright with me if for the rest of my TV career I was not involved in combat, or sword fights, or firing guns, because I’ve had my gracious share of all of that. I want to do the kind of shows where you wear tuxedos and drink martinis. That’s the kind of work I want.
ScienceFiction.com: On the set do you have down time and if so, what do you do during that time?
Michael Emerson: We don’t have a lot of downtime. It’s scheduled fairly carefully. If for example I shoot the first scene and I’m not needed for four hours and I can’t go home, I bring a good book. If we’re in the city I’ll walk around and window shop. It’s a little hard to be inconspicuous when you are dressed as Mr. Finch. I love the city and love exploring the city so it’s fun to be in neighborhoods I don’t usually go to.
ScienceFiction.com: You’ve been working with many of the same cast and crew now for many years, tell us, is there a practical joker on set?
Michael Emerson: No we don’t really have the figure on this show. I read about those things but I’ve never really worked on a show with a practical joker and I’m glad of it. The undertaking is so pressured, a little stressful, a little edgy. We crack up sometimes. We crack up because we’re trying so hard and we make mistakes. No one is too light hearted. Jim (Caviezel) will occasionally bust out with his impression or unlikely old top 40 songs. He’s the closet thing we have to a joker.
ScienceFiction.com: Over the years there has been a growing fanbase of dedicated fans that show up yearly to watch you film. Tell us your thoughts on them.
Michael Emerson: I’m amazed at they’re loyalty to the show but more than that their stamina. Sometimes people will stand on a street corner in bad weather for 12 or 14 hours and I have never liked a TV show well enough to do that. They’re coming at it from a different place. I appreciate the passion that they bring to it. It beats acting in a vacuum wondering if anyone is watching.
ScienceFiction.com: Speaking of fan passion, one of the more loved guest stars on the show has been your wife, Carrie Preston. Tell us, will Grace be making an appearance this season?
Michael Emerson: We’ve already shot one Grace scene which is a flashback. I don’t know about a return of Grace in the present. We have to wait and see, but perhaps that’s something that could happen.
ScienceFiction.com: Have you ever found yourself being Finch, taking on his mannerisms, even when you’re not filming?
Michael Emerson: Once in a while, I don’t think so much temperamentally, once in a while I’ll be walking down the street and I’ll be thinking about a scene we’re working on or something and I’ll find I’m not turning my head left and right. I slip into Mr. Finch’s disability sometimes without doing it intentionally. Once the show is over it will take me a little while to shake the limp and the fused vertebrae.
ScienceFiction.com: Now that Season five has started filming is there anything unexpected or surprising that you’ve filmed?
Michael Emerson: No we go to some interesting places because the ending of Season Four was so dire and desperate. Now can the Machine be revived because without it, all is lost. If it’s going to be revived it will be the work of Mr. Finch and Root who are kind of an odd couple and don’t agree philosophically on what the Machine should be like. Mr. Finch has a growing sense of parenthood towards the Machine which seems strange because it’s a machine but there’s a relationship there now which I think he resisted for a long time but it’s hard to resist. I don’t know where that’s going. I think that will be one of the interesting things that will develop over time.
ScienceFiction.com: With the 13 episodes this season, do you think this means that ‘Person of Interest’ may be coming to an end?
Michael Emerson: I think it’s possible that this is the end of it. I suppose it’s possible that it could move to another network or another platform. My guess is that this is the end of our relationship with CBS.
ScienceFiction.com: Thank you so much for taking the time to speak with us.
WGN America will begin a binge worthy showing of episodes which will allow fans and new viewers to watch the series from the beginning. Starting September 1st, 2015 at 7pm ET WGN America will show three episodes back to back of ‘Person of Interest.’ Then on Labor Day, September 7th, 2015, 1pm – 1am ET, there will be a 12-hour marathon of ‘Person of Interest’ and ‘Elementary.’
Watch WGN America to get caught up on everything ‘Person of Interest’ and be prepared for the upcoming season of ‘Person of Interest.’