Jim Caviezel: "Are we that naïve to say that Big Brother isn't really here?"
[Warning! This article contains spoilers for those who haven't seen the mid-season finale] Person of Interest returns tonight from a mid-season break over the holidays that left fans scrambling for more. Why? Audiences were left crushed at the end of November when Carter died in Reese's arms. And while HR may have been taken out, there are still greater threats to the machine... and the world at large.
Is that Greek to you? Now's the perfect time to jump in and start watching. Here's your P.O.I. primer:
Former CIA officer and green beret John Reese works with software genius Harold Finch to prevent crimes in New York City with the help of "The Machine," a surveillance system that can predict when and where crimes will take place. Think Minority Report, but for today's world, and without the floating pre-cogs.
We caught up with some of the talent behind Person of Interest earlier this year to chat about the show and technology in our everyday lives.
"It's always good to gauge how well a show is doing by the fans," Taraji P. Henson (Joss Carter) says of the social media interactions she's had concerning the show. "You kind of know what the numbers are going to be, because you see the floodgate of love we get on social media."
After the death of her character on the show, Henson revealed that she always knew there would be an end to Carter's story, but kept things under wraps when we spoke with her this summer. "It just excites me me because I already know what's going on," she says. "I'm always a few episodes ahead, of course, of what you guys are seeing, so it just tickles me what they're saying. It's just great to see how involved they are with the characters on the show. It's amazing."
Several times, fans have been left wondering if it was Detective Fusco's time to go, but he's back, along with the show tonight.
"People -- specifically with Fusco -- are like, 'I can't believe Fusco's still alive,'" says Kevin Chapman (Lionel Fusco). "It would've been so obvious to kill that character off, but that's what makes Person of Interest so beautiful."
One of the biggest appeals of Person of Interest is the show's dedication to its complex characters. Following Carter's death, the show's creators strove to develop roles that audiences could find and identify with in their own reality.
"I think the whole thing with Fusco is that you see the redeemable qualities in him," Chapman explains. "Flawed individual? Absolutely. We're all able to redeem ourselves. And that's what I think the message is with this character. He has redeemable qualities. Does he get the level of respect he probably would like? No, he doesn't. They say he's like a little brother that nobody wanted. We see the good in him, but we know he's a knucklehead."
Jim Caviezel (John Reese) explains that the depth of character development went far beyond the writers' room, explaining the amount of time that goes into shooting each season of the show.
"We're nine months, day in and day out, shooting," Caviezel says. "A slow day for the first two years was 15 hours. And then we did 'Fraturdays,' so you'd go 19-20 hours into 6 a.m. and go to bed, wake up at 2, 'Here's a new script.' So with that schedule, being able to pull this off was real important. The lack of time being able to train your body as an athlete, which is what Reese does, was very limited. It's very easy to get your rib cracked -- which I did -- and take a shot from one of those stuntmen. It just happens."
(Left to right) Jim Caviezel, Taraji P. Henson, Greg Plageman, Amy Acker, Kevin Chapman, Sarah Shahi
Greg Plageman, one of the show's executive producers, explains that the gadgets and tech-hacks on the show may seem ultra-high tech, but much of it is actually close to what's currently being used in the world. "All the technology we've used on the show is either stuff that's been developed or it's coming," he says.
Plageman also pointed out how uncanny the similarities between the show and current events have been. "The whole PRISM thing is bizarre," he says. "We started this show, and people were like, 'That's crazy.' Then everyone starts looking on the corners and seeing the cameras. The next thing you know, this thing comes out about PRISM, about the government checking everybody's email."
While the idea of government surveillance has quickly become the norm in pop culture and beyond, Plageman is surprised that more people aren't changing the way they act. "It's so strange; it kind of all just happened," Plageman says. "I'm not even sure people are phased by it at all. The fact that they're listening to all your phone calls and emails hasn't stopped anybody from doing anything."
"We still have to communicate," Henson says, "I mean, what are you going to do? Live in a hole? It's just what it is."
Caviezel also recalls hearing people make the connections between Person of Interest and reality. "My phone started ringing off the hook when the Snowden thing happened. 'Oh, this shit's real!' 'Oh my gosh, you guys were way ahead of it.'"
"Here's your video camera," Caviezel says, pointing to a phone. "And you don't see it, but someone's watching you getting changed in the morning and when you go to bed at night. There you are. You have no idea they're spying on you right there."
Caviezel goes on to site several examples of the dangers of surveillance and getting too reliant and comfortable with technology, including the Miss Teen USA "sextortion" plot, the "mooing" EZ Pass that was tracked throughout New York, and the suspicious death of journalist Michael Hastings.
"Are we that naïve to say that Big Brother isn't really here?" Caviezel asks. "I think we are naïve."
Despite that, Caviezel says people shouldn't live in fear of technology -- just exercise caution. "If our society continues to be one of reaction," he says, "we're going to have incidents like that happening. What I love about these stories and our show is that people are going, 'Wow, maybe I should put a little black tape on my camera and not wait for a nightmare to happen.' Instead of being paranoid, just put a piece of black tape over your computer."
Check out a preview of tonight's show:
Person of Interest returns with "Aletheia" tonight at 9 p.m. CST on CBS.
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