Recently, I had the privilege of getting to speak with Person of Interest‘s own Kevin Chapman, who plays once and future corrupt cop, Detective Lionel Fusco, on the series. He spoke with TVOvermind about the challenges of shooting on-location, what drew him to working on this series, and a little about the depths of Det. Fusco that we’re just now getting to delve into on the show.
TVO: Congratulations, you guys have been doing really well on a difficult night.
Kevin: Yeah it’s going pretty well, I mean you know I always kind of felt it right out of the gate, but with television you never know. I just felt like the show had the right pedigree to be something special. Something that people were gonna take to. I mean to have Jonah Nolan, who has written some great films if you’ve seen any of his movies like… Memento is one of those films that sticks out to me. When you’re watching it you just keep saying to yourself, ‘˜okay where the hell is this going?’And then when it all paid off in the end you’re like, ‘wow, what a great film.”So to have someone like [Nolan] in your corner backing this thing, and then you also have a guy like JJ Abrams coaching from the sideline, and Greg Plageman who was one of the head writers on Cold Case— it just really had the right pedigree to do something unique and rather different.
What I find to be exciting about this show is that each episode is like a little movie. So if you haven’t started watching the show yet, if you were to start watching it ,then it would take you an episode to realize who the players are and what the landscape is. There are shows out there that were very critically acclaimed, one that comes to mind for me is Deadwood, and that was one of those shows where it took you a lot of episodes to find out who everyone was. I don’t find that to be the case with our show. People can tune in for the first episode and by the time that episode concludes they have an idea of who’s who and what’s what and that’s very exciting to see.
TVO: So is that what attracted you to wanting to play this role of Det. Fusco, the pedigree of the people behind the series?
Kevin: Yeah, absolutely. I felt that after speaking with Jonah Nolan that Lionel had a real duality. And so the opportunity to play a character like that was very intriguing to me. I always kind of like to play these kind of complex characters where you’re not quite sure if they’re a good guy or a bad guy and that’s kind of what I like to portray because I leave that up to the audience whether or not they think he’s a good guy or a bad guy. So to have those characters that have such a duality where you’re not really quite sure how calibrated their moral compass is, is rather intriguing to me.
TVO: You’ve been shooting a lot on location in New York, have there been challenges because of that?
Kevin: Yeah, there really is. I’ve only worked in New York one other time, I did a seven episode stint on Rescue Me and all that was indoors and it was all contained environments. Filming in the streets of Manhattan it’s really great because when you have so much life going on around you it kind of catapults you into the scene. What’s great is that you never really know what’s going to happen. Anytime you’re shooting on the streets of Manhattan something could be turned on its ear at any given moment.
TVO: So far in the course of shooting have you had a particular favorite scene either from the experience of shooting it or from how the actual finished scene turned out?
Kevin: Well we’ve had some very funny moments, one in particular that comes to mind is when Michael Emerson and I were shooting down in Brighton Beach and the scene was Fusco was to get a hot dog and then it was supposed to be a walk and talk. Finch and Fusco were going to have a conversation as they walk down the sidewalk and then Finch is going to jump into his limousine and be off on his way. Well, we were right under the train station and the director thought of the idea of having a camera across the street that could pick us up in a large master shot so that you could see all the life going on around us. What was funny is that every time we’d do a take, the train would stop and unload and a whole lot of people would walk out. So there was constantly people trying to walk between us and trying to get out of our way and it was really chaotic. So I found myself trying to put up my forearm as a battering ram to keep people out of our shot so that Finch and I could continue on in our conversation on the sidewalk.
TVO: For most of the season, Fusco has primarily been sharing screen time with Reese and Det. Carter. Have you liked getting to work with other actors more often now that Fusco is fully involved with both of the leads and their stories?
Kevin: Anytime you’re watching a new show you have to kind of put your two leads out there so that people can buy into the story that’s being told and then eventually you can start to get around to the rest of the characters. It’s just kind of Fusco’s turn now to flesh out the character a little bit and give people the opportunity to get a better feel for who Fusco is as a character.
TVO: In the interest of fleshing out the characters outside of the two leads out, would you perhaps be interested in Fusco having a flashback sequence?
Kevin: Personally I’m not someone who’s a big fan of flashbacks because I feel that it can be confusing for the audience. That’s just my personal belief. I think that for this show the two leads are so mysterious that I feel it’s almost necessary to kind of give their stories those flashback sequences. I don’t know if it’s something that is right for every character. I think that if you do them for everyone it becomes a little confusing and clunky. There’s enough going on for Fusco that he doesn’t need a flashback sequence. He’s still got a number of layers that haven’t been addressed yet.
Kevin also encouraged the fans to follow the show’s official Twitter account @personinterest, as well as his own personal Twitter account, @poifusco for updates about the show. Person of Interest airs 9 pm Thursday nights on CBS.