Kevin Chapman disucsses Person of Interest: Get Carter airing December 8th, only on CBS
Person of Interest returns to CBS this Thursday with the all-new episode Get Carter. Reese (James Caviezel) and Finch's (Michael Emerson) game of cat and mouse with Detective Carter (Taraji P. Henson) becomes infinitely more complicated when The Machine declares that she is their newest POI, airing Thursday, Dec. 8 at 9:00 PM, ET/PT.
We recently caught up with actor Kevin Chapman, who plays Detective Lionel Fusco, to chat about the show and this week's new episode. Here is our conversation.
Can you tell us a little bit about your character, for audiences who have not yet tuned in or found the time to delve into this world quite yet?
Kevin Chapman: It's a long story. This show is produced by J.J. Abrams and written by Jonathan Nolan, brother of Christopher Nolan. It has a bit of prestige. So excuse my gasps when I hear that someone hasn't seen it. Its one of those shows that you try to explain to people, and they are like, "Huh?" The show stars James Caviezel, Michael Emerson, and Taraji P. Henson. And myself. What the show is about...Its about a machine created by this scientist named Finch, for the United States government. What it does...The government wants to track people of interest. People that could potentially perform some horrific act of terrorism on American soil. The way that information is compiled is by monitoring cell phones, emails, bank activity, cameras in the street. Traffic cameras and ATM cameras. That's how all of this information is gathered. There is certain information that the government has about people they want to investigate. Then there are a bunch of people that fall below that line. That is whom we investigate. The people who fall below that line. Some of these people are in the process of being involved in some sort of illegal activity. We try to prevent it and stop it from happening, before it happens. That is what we are doing every week. We are investigating these people of interest.
The show seems a little bit different than past J.J. Abrams series in that, if you haven't been watching from the start, you can join in midway through the series, and still enjoy it. Each episode really works on it's own...
Kevin Chapman: Absolutely. Each episode is like watching a mini-movie. Its great. Each week, the story unfolds. You see what is going to happen. There have been a couple times when you think the person of interest is a perpetrator, and it turns out they are a victim. Then there are times when the person whom you think is a victim is actually the perpetrator. Jonathan Nolan is an incredible writer. He is amazing. And we have a great staff. The creative team that is around this thing is really cool. They come at the show from various angles. We have writers that worked on shows that were successful. Then we have writers that worked on shows that weren't so successful. We have people who've worked on successful movies, and people wo have directed successful films. This is a true collaborative process. Then you have J.J. Abrams to godfather the whole thing, and look over your shoulder to make sure everything is staying on track. It's really special.
Still being in the first season, is it a surprise to you from script to script how your character has continued to evolve in the past few weeks? Or were you given insight into this guy's arc before you began shooting the show?
Kevin Chapman: Oh, absolutely. I encourage people to watch the pilot, which is available online. I play detective Lionel Fusco. In that pilot episode, there are a bunch of corrupt cops who are participating in illegal activity. They are shaking down drug dealers, and any number of things. Lionel is taking Reese, played by James Caviezel, out to kill him. As they are going out, they have this conversation. Reese says "Lionel, I see some good in you. What I'm going to do is allow you to live. You are going to help me in my mission. But if you ever hurt anyone again, I will be the first one to kill you." In the first couple of episodes, Lionel tries to take Reese's character out. But he has this redeemable quality that comes to play. In the first couple of episodes, Lionel is sensing this fact, that Reese has him over a barrel. But as the show progresses, you see that Lionel gets his fire back. He gets that look in his eye, and he rediscovers the reason why he wanted to be a police officer in the first place. You know? Everyone loves a good redemption story. It's a cool character to play.
With J.J. Abrams and Jonathan Nolan being involved, the show had a fanbase before it ever got on the air. The response after those first few episodes was remarkable. You guys have gotten a full season pick-up. What was it like for you to see such a positive reception while you were still in the midst of shooting this first half of the season?
Kevin Chapman: Look, the show is still growing! That's the beauty of it. I keep finding people who say they haven't seen the show yet. Once they tune in, they are saying, "Wow, this is a great show. I am really digging this." That has been great to see. It's like watching a light come on in their eyes. This is cool television. Each episode is really like a little mini-movie. Of course, most shows do have a throughline, or a B line and a C line that carries into the next episode. Here, we may have a C line, but it doesn't get picked up in the very next episode. It gets picked up in the episode that proceeds it.
You have two more episodes before you go on your Christmas break. What can the fans expect to see in those episodes?
Kevin Chapman: I can't get into that. I can't start revealing storylines. We don't see our scripts until three or four days before we shoot them. They are very tight with the scripts. As an artist, for me, I enjoy that. I worked with Todd Field, who learned this from Stanley Kubrick...He would only let you see your sides, from your scene. Stanley Kubrick would only give you the pages of the script that had your character on them. That removes all of the other storylines. I can't say that I support that, or don't support that. Its art. It's all subjective. It's not my style. It's not how I like to work. Here, I like the way they keep you guessing. You are shooting a lot of episodes, and the season can be long. As an actor, you can get planted in the middle of this character. There's not a lot of choices that are made. It's like playing baseball. You can become complacent as an actor. Getting your script four or five days before you shoot it...That creates a level of excitement, and it makes you elevate your game. I embrace the process. I can't speak for anyone else. The script is always on lock and key at the Robot, as I like to say.
In a way, that gives you the same perspective that fans of the show have. You are coming at this the same time they are in terms of following the story.
Kevin Chapman: Yeah, absolutely. And if I'm not working, I'm at home watching the show with my wife. Not because I'm on it. Even though I am an actor on the show, I'm never sure about all the things that are happening. I'm not sure how this is all going to unfold. If I happen to be home on a Thursday night, there is a cavalcade of people in my living room, and we are all watching it together.