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Is Root Crazy or Sane? Amy Acker Talks Person of Interest: Season 3

A lovely interview with IGN — be sure to tune in for the season 3 premiere tonight!

Person of Interest returns to CBS this coming Tuesday (new night!) at 10/9c, picking things up where we left off in the Season 2 finale – with the Machine now in an unknown location and talking to “Control,” Finch and Root, separately. And now that both Amy Acker and Sarah Shahi have been bumped up to series regulars, things are bound to get out of hand quickly. Because you know that mental institution won’t hold Root for long.

I had a chance to talk to Angel/Alias alum Amy Acker about her role as Root, the deep mythology of the series, getting intimate with The Machine, and whether or not Shahi’s character, Shaw, is going to cause problems for Root down the line.

IGN: Firstly, congratulations on being promoted to a series regular for Season 3.

Amy Acker: Thank you. It’s a really fun character so I’m happy to be a part of it.

IGN: Was the possibility of becoming a regular anything that was originally discussed with you when you took the role at the end of Season 1?

Acker: Not really. It’s interesting, when I first talked to Jonah [Nolan,] and Greg [Plageman] about the part they’d already actually introduced the character in an episode where you’d only seen the back of her head and her hands. And it wasn’t me obviously, but they asked me, “Would you come play this part?” and said, “We’ll show you what we’ve done with her so far.” So it was nice to come into a part that I’d already got to see get set up and what they had in mind. So they told me I would probably be on about five episodes last season — Season 2 — and then when I read the script for the finale I saw they’d put me in a mental institution. Which was good, because killing me off would have meant I got fired!

IGN: Have you had a chance to talk to Michael Emerson about becoming a regular since that’s what happened to him on Lost? Where he started as a guest and they liked him so much they had him stay?

Acker: You know someone mentioned that at Comic-Con, but I guess I hadn’t realized that about his character. I feel like he was there all along. So someone did mention that before, but we haven’t talked about it.

IGN: CBS is known for it’s “case of the week” shows that don’t exactly pry that much into the lives of the investigators. But Person of Interest has a ton of mythology to it – so much that people can actually lose track. Are you glad to be a part of a show with so much backstory?

Acker: For me, I think that’s kind of the great thing about the show. That they manage to keep that “case of the week” element but still include so much mythology. I mean, after being on Alias and other things that had such deep mythology — like Angel — all of the shows that I’ve been on before have been so rooted around the mythology. And that’s really fun because it means there’s always new coming in and they bring a new energy with them. And a new take every week. I kind of gives us room to explore the mythology. And I feel lucky because most of my character on this show is based in the mythology, and revolves around that part of the show, with the Machine. And I think that’s going to be even stronger this year.

IGN: We saw Root’s origin story, but will there be more flashbacks into her past? This time, you know, showing you, now that we know which of those teenage girls grew up to be Root?

Acker: I hope so! I don’t know. I mean they use the flashbacks so well with other characters. We’ve learned so much about Finch and Reese and all the others. So it would be exciting to see what they’d do with my character. Showing how she went from living in Texas to where she is now. We haven’t done that yet, but who knows?

IGN: What can you tell us about Root’s devious schemes in Season 3?

Acker: I don’t know how much I’m allowed to tell. Let’s put it this way… I know I’m talking to the Machine, but they haven’t exactly written the other side of that. There’s no concrete dialogue for what the Machine’s actually saying to me, so a lot of it just determined by my actions. So I realize, ‘Oh, she told me to do that and she told me to do this.” But we are in close contact. She’s kind of my only friend right now.

IGN: Does the Machine treat Root differently than the others?

Acker: To me, it seems like the Machine is really personal to each character. I’ve heard Jonah [Nolan] say that different characters hear the machine in different ways. With different voices. That the Machine really personalizes itself depending on who it’s speaking to. So that might be true. I heard him mention that in an interview once. But if that’s the case then I feel that we definitely have a different relationship than the others. And we picked right up where were left off last year where I’ve been institutionalized. And it’s fun to see how the Machine is interacting with me in there.

IGN: Root once told Finch that she’s not a sociopath. What’s your take?

Acker: Yeah. [laughs] I mean, there is a chance that I’m not the crazy one. Or not completely crazy. I think she does have the best interests of the Machine in mind. I mean, I’ve read some books about people who know a lot more about computers and this sort of thing than I do and you can see in the news that this kind of surveillance isn’t that far off. And that it’s not as science-fiction-y a premise as it might have been back when the show started. And I think there are people who feel the same way about machines that Root does. And maybe they’re all crazy. Or maybe they’re all right! I kind of think that it’s a really interesting point in history with the show and where we are in technology. And who would have thought that all the Prism stuff would have come out at the same time the show was on? It’s hard to know if Root’s crazy or if she’s just predicting the inevitable future.

IGN: It’s safe to say that there’s no love lost between you and Sarah Shahi’s character, Shaw. Can we assume that they’re headed for a showdown?

Acker: Well, I don’t know that Root has anything against Shaw. I think she actually admires her abilities. That’s the thing about Root… If someone’s good at what they do then she finds it to be an admirable quality. That’s not to say that of Shaw gets in her way she won’t torture her with an iron again, but for the most part I think it’s Shaw who’s got something against Root.

IGN: So it’s one-sided.

Acker: Yeah, it’s her problem. Maybe she should get over it [laughs]. But yeah, we had a lot of fun in that one scene that we got to do last year. So I hope that we get to do something like that again. It’s exciting that Root has so many different dynamics to play with the other characters. I’ve done scenes with them all one on one and so now it’ll be fun to see how those interactions change.

IGN: Do you think you’ll get to kidnap Finch for a third time?

Acker: I hope so. Those are my favorite scenes to shoot. I’m all about kidnapping Finch at every opportunity.

Person of Interest: Season 3 kicks off in its new timeslot on Tuesday, September 24th at 10/9c.