June 5, 2016
The POI star reflects on her character’s origins and her favorite Root/Shaw scenes.
Warning: Spoilers for Person of Interest up through Episode 100, “The Day the World Went Away.”
At the Dallas Comic-Con Fan Expo this weekend, Person of Interest star Amy Acker took the stage, in the wake of the show’s big 100th episode, for a Q&A session with fans where she spoke about her role as Root and what to expect from the series for the final remaining episodes.
“The last three episodes are really really good,” Acker said. “And I will say that I cried on the 100th episode when I was leaving the cast and crew and was like ‘I’m never going to see you guys again.’ And then when I was back the next week? It was a little awkward. Is that a spoiler? I don’t know. They have shown some previews for the next three episodes and you do see me in the flesh so…”
So how will we see Root given that she died saving Finch from a sniper’s bullet in the 100th episode? Well, that remains to be seen. But we do know that the Machine has now taken Root’s voice as its own. But how much of the Root character will be present? “I think there’s going to be some discussion about that in the show,” Acker revealed. “So you’ll hear that better explained through Jonah’s [Nolan] word than mine. But they really wanted to hit home in the 100th episode that the Machine really does know us better than we know ourselves and I think it’s kind of shown at one point – and I’m not sure off this made it in to the actual episode – that she knows us with 99.6% accuracy. It’s close. So it was actually really complicated to figure out.”
“The Machine knows Root exactly to 99.6% accuracy but then the Machine is saying its own ideas in Root’s voice,” she continued. “But Root and the Machine share a lot of the same ideas as it is. So I hope it all becomes clear. It’s a lot of Root and the Machine melding into one thing.”
Yes, Acker did acknowledge that there are some similarities to Root’s fate on Person of Interest and Fred’s fate on Angel. “I’m the only actor who’s been killed off on a show and turned into a god twice,” she said with a smile. “It’s not bad typecasting.”
Acker then recalled how she got her start on the series, originally only being brought in for five episodes. “I don’t think they imagined I’d be around much longer than that,” she said. “I think I was set up to be the bad guy for Season 2. Luckily I tricked them into keeping me there for the rest of the year. I don’t think they knew what I was going to do. I know Jonah said that early on the idea was that the Machine would take Root’s voice. And he told me that in the summer before we started shooting Season 5. And I think they’d had that planned for a while because he’d said a thing at the Comic-Con a year before that and he says it was about that. So I was glad I didn’t know for two years. It was hard enough to keep that secret for a year.”
“It was interesting because the first episode I did, of Person of Interest, I wasn’t really playing Root,” Acker laughed. “I was playing the psychologist. So I didn’t really know what the role was going to be. And then there was just that one scene at the end when I blew the woman’s brains out and kidnapped Finch and that kind of gave me the sense that she wasn’t that nice of a person. So when we got to filming that scene Jonah and Greg [Plageman] made a real point of saying that they didn’t want her to be this low-voiced ominous villain. They were like ‘No, we want her to be like you. She can be smiling when she kills people.’ So I think that set the tone for what they wanted the character to be.”
“I think the thing that I like the most about Root was her transformation from feeling like we’re all “bad code” into feeling like she was a part of a family with Team Machine,” Acker added.
A huge part of the Root character, one that grew out of Acker’s chemistry with co-star Sarah Shahi, was her relationship with Shahi’s character, Shaw, and Acker spoke about how honored she was to play out that love connection. “One of my favorite parts of how they wrote this role, and Shaw, and how they handled the whole relationship was that they just made it that these two characters loved each other and it was never about if they were gay or straight or anything,” she said. “It was just clearly these two characters were meant to be together. And then the other characters didn’t comment on it in any way.”
“And from meeting so many great people at these conventions or having people come up to me later and tell that this role I was playing of an LGBT character was inspirational to them made me feel good. I was just trying to play the character as best I could so now I mostly honored that it spoke to people and that I got to play one of the few characters like that and that it’s had a positive influence on the community and people.”
Looking back, Acker reflected on her favorite Root/Shaw moments, including the famous introduction between the two – a scene that involved a scalding hot iron. “I don’t think anyone knew that scene was going to be what it was,” she said. “They just thought it was a normal ‘torture someone with an iron’ scene. But it ended up being the start of a beautiful relationship.”
“And then I really liked the scene in the 100th episode where we’re talking about shapes and I’m telling her about her thing that she has. I love the dynamic with them when they get to be dong action-y stuff and then have these conversations. And Shaw’s like ‘Why are you talking to me?’ Sarah’s so good at that so that’s one of my other favorite parts. There’s a lot. And, I mean, all of her simulation episode. That was a great one. I love all the Root and Shaw scenes, really.”
Person of Interest’s next episode, “Synecdoche,” airs Tuesday, June 7th at 10/9c on CBS.