'Person of Interest': Michael Emerson Reflects on His Career After 'Lost'

"I'm a little more visible now and it's harder for me to hide," the actor says.
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Many Lost fans were excited to hear that Michael Emerson, who played Ben Linus on the ABC show, and its creator J.J. Abrams would be reuniting for the fall CBS series, Person of Interest.

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Emerson appeared at Television Critics Association (TCA) Press Tour via satellite from the show’s set in Long Island City, NY with fellow cast members Taraji P. Henson and James Caviezel, and the pilot’s writer and series executive producer Jonathan Nolan.

“I play a shadowy tech billionaire who’s had some kind of transformative experience in his psychological life,” Emerson says of his new role. “He’s decided to dedicate himself to a justice mission. He has a physical handicap and he can’t intervene in dangerous positions personally. So, he needs to team up with someone who’s more active and skilled than he.”

That’s where Caviezel comes in. He plays an ex-CIA operative who Emerson’s Finch recruits to do the field work. Emerson says he was attracted to the project, because of the writing. “I tend to follow material generally,” he says.

“I don’t think you can go too far wrong if you follow great material,” Emerson continues. “And also, you like to collaborate with people at the top of their game. So, those things. Also, you kind of go where J.J. goes.”

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Of course, there will always be interest in the iconic role Emerson personified on Lost. When asked about life after the series, the actor said he had no idea at first that he would be sticking around so long.

“My part on Lost was just another guest stop as far as I knew,” he says. “I think every character actor has a secret dream inside them that one day they will play it so well, hit it so far out of the park that they will become somehow indispensable overnight and will be asked to stay. That’s kind of what happened on Lost. I never was allowed to go home from the Hawaiian Islands.”

And while the role has made him famous, he says that he hopes that doesn’t keep him from doing the quirky character roles he enjoys.

“Now, I’m a little more visible and it’s a lot harder for me to hide,” he explains. “That’s an adjustment. I’m hoping that I still get to do the odd turn. I want always to be able to play something offbeat or eccentric, colorful. I would like it to have a limp or an accent. I love those things.”

To which Nolan chimes in, “Be careful what you wish for.”

Person of Interest premieres Thursday, Sept. 22 at 9 p.m. on CBS.

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