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.
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