'Person of Interest' Actor Says the NSA Is 'Making Us Look Like a Reality Show'

"Person of Interest" cast with creator Jonathan Nolan (inset)
"Person of Interest" cast with creator Jonathan Nolan (inset)
 Andy Kropa/Invision/AP

NEW YORK -- CBS’ sci-fi crime drama Person of Interest recently kicked off its third season but has evolved substantially since its 2011 debut, with new additions to the cast. The one character who has changed the most: the Machine itself.

“Is [Finch] really still in charge of that Machine? Does he even know that Machine any longer?” Michael Emerson told The Hollywood Reporter of his Dr. Frankenstein-like character Harold Finch at the show's PaleyFest: Made in NY event on Oct. 3. “Now it’s starting to act oddly, and that troubles him. Meanwhile, numbers come, and they have to get out on the street and do what they’ve always done.”

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Amy Acker is excited about the prospects of further exploring the relationship between her hacker character Root and the Machine. “[This season] it’s about just making sure that the Machine is capable, that no one is standing in the way of letting it do everything it needs to do," she said.

After a screening, the cast celebrated new regulars Acker and Sarah Shahi, both convinced that Root and Shaw are secretly in love with each other.

Jim Caviezel told THR that he’s happy his lone-wolf character, John Reese, has a partner out in the field in Shaw. His constant struggle is “staying in one piece -- and since she’s a hell of a lot younger than me, she’s taking a lot of the burden away,” he said. The cast also revealed that they've shot a significant amount of flashbacks that have yet to air.

While the cast agreed actor Kevin Chapman was the jokester (he notoriously had “Fusco is watching” guerrilla stickers printed for press tours), he spoke seriously about the show’s reflection of recent spying controversies.

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"Look at the NSA -- they’re making us look like a reality show! We’ve been talking about that for three seasons, and it’s now just coming to light,” said Chapman, who has a piece of black tape over his laptop’s webcam because of the Miss Teen USA Cassidy Wolf case -- “not that anyone would want to take compromising pictures of me!”

Creator Jonathan Nolan, who calls Person of Interest “more of a comic-book show...minus the cape and cowl,” says his team of writers draws inspiration not from news headlines, but rather his fascination of technology use today. “I was thinking about how many iPhones I’ve owned just in the space of four or five years -- that device has gone from nonexistent to ubiquitous,” Nolan told THR. “If you think about all the different things that phone can do, you have a Trojan horse not just for private corporations -- Google, Facebook -- but also the government. We’re only beginning to discover the ramifications for that now.”

Nolan added that Facebook is the one thing he refuses to use, since public sharing is freely given through social graphs: “With all due respect to the incredibly talented engineers and all the people who get a great deal of pleasure out of it, I don’t get it. I think it’s a historical moment in which we’ll look back at the amount that we were willing to share, just because no one explained to us that it was worth something.”

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Besides generating new Person of Interest material, Nolan also pops up to Alberta, Canada, to check in with Interstellar, co-written with his brother Christopher Nolan. “It’s a balancing act. Luckily, my brother is so self-sufficient when he goes into production -- unless there’s last-minute writing to be done," he said. "Batman Begins, I worked on that for months and months and months. But with every film, he’s gotten a little more, ‘No, we got it, we’re gonna go shoot this.’ ”

But what does he think about keeping Anne Hathaway, Matt Damon, Jessica Chastain and Matthew McConaughey for potential Interstellar followups? “I don’t know if it’s a franchise or not," he said. "Certainly it was a story I was extremely excited to share with audiences and I was incredibly excited that Chris shared that enthusiasm and wanted to get it out there. [During my visit] it looked fantastic; they’re having a lot of fun.”

Person of Interest airs Tuesdays at 10 p.m. on CBS.

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