In a very open departure from my usual coverage of U.S. Politics, this comedian/writer willingly decided to check out some of the exciting happenings at this year's Comic Con at the Jacob Javit’s Center in NYC. For the uninitiated, Comic Con is mostly known as an opportunity for parents to celebrate, as their basement-dwelling offspring don their favorite superhero costumes (of course the morbidly obese guys have to always be the most decidedly fit action heroes) and head on out to immerse themselves in comic book culture.
Yes, I just coupled comic book and culture. But lately, the seemingly DC and Marvel dominated event has become more and more of a legitimate unveiling of some of the smartest and most engaging television series. With graphic novel adaptations in TV and Film being the new “little black dress,” the cast and creators of AMC’s zombie apocalypse-themed Walking Dead was a huge draw and attracted an insane amount of devoted fans for the panel and screening.
But flying under the Walking Dead radar was the cast and creators behind the CBS show Person of Interest. Aptly named after law enforcement’s politically-correct shibboleth for “suspect,” Person of Interest is a compelling crime drama that departs widely from the cliche-ridden and often times mediocre acting from CSI. The series immediately has credibilty with its opening voice-over by Mr. Finch, who’s played by Michael Emerson.
“You are being watched. The government has a secret system: a machine that spies on you every hour of every day. I know because I built it. I designed the machine to detect acts of terror, but it sees everything. Violent crimes involving ordinary people, people like you. Crimes the government considered irrelevant. They wouldn't act, so I decided I would. But I needed a partner, someone with the skills to intervene. Hunted by the authorities, we work in secret. You'll never find us, but victim or perpetrator, if your number's up...we'll find you."
It can be said that Michael Emerson is Hollywood’s go-to guy when it comes to playing creepy, cagey little guys. Emerson’s mind-blowing, disturbingly cryptic and equally enigmatic portrayal as the never-quite-honest Benjamin Linus on Lost--another J.J. Abrams produced series--is a character role that Emerson will never consider as the dreaded “typecasting.”
In fact, when it came to Q & A time (on a side note, every single questioner must have either worked a NYCC panel before of all came in on the LIRR together since they all were from Long Island), Emerson couldn’t escape his Lost exploits.
Perhaps not intentional, but one quixotic and way too eager questioner basically said that Michael Emerson must be a creepy weirdo since he plays them so well. But in actyuality, she was curious about his career moves. Emerson said that he takes great pleasure in playing villains.
I tend not to think of them in terms of villains. I just try to tune in to what they’re trying to accomplish.
Emerson, who is a very mild -mannered man with a meek disposition, ironically has played mostly zany characters in stage and theater productions. After all, Emerson comes from the world of theater. So it’s safe to assume that Michael is more akin to Kevin Spacey than the sinister characters he plays since I don't recall him once torturing me mentally and sending me out on any psychologically painful peregrinations of peril (how’s the for an alliteration?).
During the Press roundtable held immediately after the panel, I had to ask Emerson if he at consciously or subconsciously was at all channeling Anthony Hopkins’ ever sinister and eminently intelligent Dr. Hannibal Lecter character during a key scene between him and the actress who played Kate on "Lost."
Emerson seemed flattered by the comparison and mentioned he’s a huge fan of Anthony Hopkins, but didn’t state that he was aware of this interpretation. Much like the rest of the world, he stated that he’s mostly familiar with more grotesque stuff he did in that role as Hannibal. But the very kind actor humored me:
“Well, those were good puzzles in that movie and I like playing with puzzles...and cat and mouse. That type of thing is good fun,” said Emerson.
And since Lost was such an amazing show (well, otherworldly episodic concierto), "Person of Interest" Creator/Executive producer Jonathan Nolan, who was also at the panel, gave "Lost" fans a major priapism when he announced that that Lost's Mark Pellegrino, the all-too swedish looking actor who portrayed the very dreamlike and surreal Jacob on the hit ABC series, will be guest-starring with fellow Lost Alum Emerson in this upcoming season of Person of Interest.