Michael Emerson is an actor who remains grateful for the fans he's had throughout his 30-year career. While promoting his Paramount+ series Evil, I had a chance to speak to the actor about how his previous popular shows are finding a new generation of fans thanks to streaming. Emerson played Ben Linus, the leader of The Others on ABC island mystery series Lost, which he won his second Emmy. He would go on to create another memorable character on CBS's Person of Interest as the equally resourceful and intelligent Harold Finch, a wealthy programmer partnered with an ex-CIA agent to save lives via a surveillance AI that sends them the identities of civilians involved in impending crimes. I spoke to the actor on how the shows left an impact in their lives and how a fan found a novel way for a teachable moment.
How Fans Rediscovered Lost and Person of Interest
During the pandemic, Emerson talked to new fans and others who were rediscovering the shows. "Because we're not we're no longer trapped in time," he said. "People are discovering 'Lost' and also 'Person of Interest'. Then I run into them on the street and they want to talk about it as if it was season one. They usually have the advantage of me because it's fresh in their minds, and I struggle sometimes to remember the events they're describing, the scenes or moments. It's good, though, I'm always happy to think that these shows live on after their broadcast date, and they may always have a following. That's kind of cool."
Emerson recalled on the day of the interview a conversation he had with a professor where she discussed the Person of Interest Season 5 episode that remains as relevant in 2021 as when it originally aired in 2016. "I ran into a woman on the street today over on the campus of the State University of New York, the Fashion Institute of Technology and she's a faculty member there," he recalled. "She stopped me to say that she had just shown an episode of 'Person of Interest' in her class. She was teaching a class on pandemics and conspiracy theories. It was an episode in which Mr. [Harold] Finch (Emerson) was in the hospital and the idea came up that the Samaritan was collecting people's medical information or what they didn't know. It was a kind of scary prospect and I thought, 'Oh, that's interesting.' I always thought that show was topical and bringing up interesting subjects that people weren't maybe paying enough attention to with respect to surveillance and artificial intelligence, stuff like that. So it was such an interesting conversation to have with her on the street about something that we had done…seven or eight years ago? I thought that was kind of thrilling." Also, make sure to check out our previous interview with Emerson on his legacy on ABC's Lost.