EW Community (2014)
September 30, 2014
Amy Acker has one of those faces you think you’ve seen everywhere. With her career spanning film and television, you’re probably not too far off. As a card-carrying member of Joss Whedon’s acting troupe, she’s appeared in a number of his projects (Dollhouse, The Cabin in the Woods, Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D), but may have landed her breakthrough role on CBS’s Person of Interest as Root, whose mysterious kinship with the Machine makes her the most unstable member of Finch’s (Michael Emerson) team.
As Finch’s team slowly reassembles after parting ways under new identities, Root now seems set to take an even more crucial role, ready to battle a bigger and badder threat. She’ll also face the personal challenge of trying to keep a larger secret under wraps: that this femme fatale actually has a heart of gold.
Talking to the EW Community, Acker discussed the ever-expanding role of her character on the show, what lies ahead for everyone, similarities between Whedon and POI creator Jonathan Nolan, and tackling Shakespeare.
ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY COMMUNITY: Last season was quite the game changer for the series. We saw the death of Detective Carter (Taraji P. Henson), the rise of Samaritan, and the dissolution of Team Machine. So where do we go from here?
AMY ACKER: I know! It was a very tense summer waiting to find out what the first script was going to be. One of the many exciting parts about being on this show is that the writers are amazing, and they’re not afraid to take a story in a different direction, like with Carter… I was reading the script last year and thinking, “You don’t usually do this in the middle of the season,” and it just got crazier after that. Now everyone’s sort of hiding in plain sight and then finding their way back together… it’s kind of like a reboot. The battle between the Machine and Samaritan is going to continue, and we’re meeting lots of cool new villains, like Martine, who was introduced in the pilot. It’s gonna be good.
Carter’s death was pretty huge and still lingers. It also set a precedent that no character is safe. Is this something that viewers should be concerned about? I think we’re all worried about that! That’s kind of the great thing about being on a show like this. They really go with what they feel is going to best serve the series. You always worry about that, but… I hope we at least get 24 hours’ notice before they kill us off (laughs).
Your character was introduced in the first season’s finale and became one of the team’s more dangerous antagonists. Now she’s working with them. Was this a conscious decision on the part of the writers?
I feel so lucky that I’ve gotten to hang around. When I signed onto the show originally, it was supposed to be five episodes to be sort of the bad guy for the year. [The writers] were able to make such an interesting character and allow me to have such a dramatic journey from being what I was when you first met me and how I’m able to sit in now, that they at least let me hang around from time to time.
She’s also quite a polarizing character; most viewers still don’t trust her, but I think she’s actually a big softy. Is it difficult to balance her extremes?
That’s probably one of my favorite parts of the role, that she is able to walk that line. You really never know what she’s going to do and I, even playing the part, never know from episode to episode: “Am I going to make a bad decision this week or a good one?” I keep saying, we have such great writers on the show, and I read these scripts and I think, “I can’t believe I’m allowed to do this!” She’s unlike any other character I’ve ever played.
That’s exactly one of the reasons I love the show. The characterizations are so strong. Good guys, bad guys—they’re so rich. I think characters are the most important thing in a television show, and this show has great characters.
To me, I love how they’ll bring people back and expand on stories you thought maybe that was the end of… and interweave things where they almost drop hints from seasons before and bring it back, and somehow it will be a pivotal part of what’s happening.
I loved the role Root played on last week’s premiere, especially in her scenes with Finch and Shaw (Sarah Shahi). She definitely doesn’t sugarcoat the truth in terms of the dangers that lie ahead, but she’s also become the team’s biggest champion and protector. She’s aware of the fact that we can’t go about it the same way we used to. Root feels that the ultimate thing that this group needs to be there for is the Machine, and that the Machine is kind of our only salvation from Samaritan.
We also got a chance to see Enrico Colantoni’s Elias again after a short absence. Will he factor in more this season?
I think he is coming back somewhere, hopefully a lot more, ’cause we all love when he’s on the show. I’m hoping. He’s one of everyone’s favorite characters and people.
POI feels like sci-fi sometimes, yet deals with topical subjects such as government surveillance and privacy concerns. Is there much discussion among the writers about how much it should mirror real life?
It’s funny, because it started out as a sort of sci-fi show… the Machine is watching you, and news broke that there are actually machines watching us and it became a reality show for a minute. I feel like we’re sort of going further… and staying a step in front of what is totally real. I think [the writers] are definitely aware of what is going on in the news and use that and build upon it.
Joss Whedon gave an interview with EW last year where he ended by stating that he balances his fairly cynical worldview by creating stories filled with “hope.” I want to say that statement fits Jonathan as well. They definitely seem to be cut from the same cloth. Can you discuss some of their similarities/differences?
I think they’re both brilliant. If either of them called and said, “Amy, I want you to do something,” before I even heard another word, I would say yes. I think [Jonathan] is just getting started… now he’s got [the upcoming HBO series] Westworld. Of course, I’m so happy that Joss has had the success he’s had. They’re both great artists and people.
Speaking of Joss, I absolutely adored his adaptation of Shakespeare’s Much Ado About Nothing, especially your turn as Beatrice. Nothing better for fine-tuning an actor’s craft than some iambic pentameter, right?
It was an amazing experience. The great thing about it is that none of us knew what it was going to be. [Joss] called two weeks before shooting and said, “I want to make a movie of Much Ado at my house…” I think Alexis [Denisof, who played Benedick] and I showed up thinking he was going to shoot it on his iPhone. When it was a real movie, we didn’t have time to panic as much as we should have. We all just were able to have fun, and it was all our friends who we had worked with before. It was really magical.
I think you should convince Joss to remake all of the Bard’s plays and cast you in the female lead.
Yes, I think so too! I think all of us have been sitting by our phones with our fingers crossed now that he’s finished Avengers 2, waiting to see if he wants to make another Shakespeare movie. But I’ll keep trying!
Person of Interest airs Tuesdays at 10/9C on CBS.