‘Person of Interest’: Jonathan Nolan on slow burns, full circles

May 03, 2012 | 4:00 p.m.
person of interest stars Person of Interest: Jonathan Nolan on slow burns, full circles

Michael Emerson, left, and Jim Caviezel star in Jonathan Nolan’s “Person of Interest.” (CBS)

Jonathan Nolan (or Jonah, as he is called by his family and friends) clearly cracked the code when it comes to sibling collaboration — he and older brother, Christopher Nolan, co-wrote the screenplays for “The Dark Knight,” “The Dark Knight Rises” and “The Prestige” — but now the younger Nolan has ventured well beyond Gotham’s city limits. He’s the creator of the CBS crime drama “Person of Interest,” which centers on reclusive tech billionaire Harold Finch (Michael Emerson), who has figured out the math of murder — his computer system sucks in massive surveillance data and spits out the Social Security number of New York’s next killers and victims. The show stars Jim Caviezel as John Reese, an ex-CIA agent who finds himself working for the city’s only crystal-ball crime unit. “Person of Interest” is barreling toward a May 17 season finale so we caught up with Nolan to check on life and death in the big city.

person of interest Person of Interest: Jonathan Nolan on slow burns, full circles

Anthony Petrie’s poster for “Person of Interest” screening at Paley Center for Media. (Gallery 1988)

HC: On any show, the interaction between the writers and the cast — and sometimes even the audience — affects the evolving rhythms of the show. Have you found that to be true with this show? And if so, what kind of surprises did that deliver?

JN: That was the part of TV that I was most attracted to — the long-term collaboration with writers, directors, and actors, the give and take and slow burn with who these characters will become. It’s incredibly exciting to be building that transcontinental feedback loop between the writers room in L.A. and the set in N.Y.C.

HC: If you had to pick — and you do — which character in this first season is the closest to your own voice?

JN: When I was writing the pilot I was traveling with my wife and struggling to find the voice for Finch’s character. Over dinner I was complaining about online social networks and people’s willingness to divulge their personal information and watching my wife’s eyes glaze over — this was roughly the millionth time she’d heard this rant. She cut me off and said ‘That’s Finch.’ I guess she figured if she had to listen to my endless complaints about the information age they’d be more pleasant coming from Michael Emerson.

— Geoff Boucher

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6 Responses to ‘Person of Interest’: Jonathan Nolan on slow burns, full circles

  1. John Harshman says:

    I was slow to become a fan but now find myself looking forward to the next episode (almost the only tv series that I watch). Last night's episode was extraordinary, in my opinion. I would like to know the name of the song near the end and who performed it.

    • mari says:

      The song is "Revenge" by Danger Mouse & Sparklehorse, with The Flaming Lips, from "Dark Night of the Soul". Perfect song for an awesome episode.

  2. kylieB says:

    i really loved this show, that was until cbs pulled it from online viewing. havent seen it since.

  3. R Ranck says:

    "Person of Interest" has set a new bar in TV viewing. This show totally rocks. The Thursday, 03 May 2012, episode was dark and intense. Edge-of-your-seat. I just hope that the writers don't suffer from a Sophomore jinx. Now that we kind of know more about "Mr. Reese" it is time to delve into "Harold" a little more next season. Perhaps the arc to season 2?

  4. rranck says:

    The episode that aired on Thursday, 03 May 2012, was the most dark and intense yet. Really like how the back story with "Mr. Reese" was juxtaposition with the current "number" Sarah and the issue of domestic violence. The final episode scene in the hospital when "Mr. Reese" bumps into wheelchair person…and it's "Harold". Looking forward to the Season Finale and the beginning of Season 2.

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