From major roles in "Angel," "Dollhouse," "Alias," and now "Person of Interest," Amy Acker is the go-to actress when you need intelligent and deadly in one attractive package. For two seasons, her character, a remorseless assassin who goes by the name Root, has opposed Finch and Reese. But now that the Machine is free, it has been aligning their interests as a second omniscient program, Samaritan, prepares to come online.
Now that Decima has identified Root as a threat, it looks as if Root will be working more closely with Finch, Reese, Shaw, and Fusco. In fact, next week we can even look forward to enjoying a nice, frosty Root/Bear.
Yahoo TV spoke with Acker about the repercussions of the last episode as they are felt through the final episodes of the season; the chaos brewing as Decima, Vigilance, Control, Root's South American hacker army — maybe even Elias's crime syndicate? — and our New York library team continue to cross paths; and what Root will have to do to avoid "two gods" going to war.
Your character was always the most fun to watch when she was just crazy and trigger-happy, but now that the Machine is teaching her empathy, she's the most interesting. Which part of her do you most enjoy playing?
It's kind of been the whole journey. Each time they give me another piece of it, it gets more fascinating. And I feel like they've done such a good job of tying it all in. Like [Tuesday] night, how they bring back the trigger-happy Root and teach her a lesson on what you've done and what you make when you make these choices.
It's always most fun to play characters that have growth and that continue to grow and get to change. So that's the most fun part of it for me.
See Acker in "Person of Interest":
The change is the best part. Carter used to play that part — a human coming to terms with the scary power of technology. Now it seems as if it's Root, only she's coming from the other end: She's a tech evangelist who's discovering her humanity. Do you, as a person, fall more on one side or the other of that division?
Oh, jeez. I've probably learned a lot more about technology through doing this show than I've ever known before. I am probably not a good spokesperson for technology other than what I've learned on "PoI."
It was great to see that moment with Finch when her faith in the Machine is shaken — where she says, "There's never been a plan," and she realizes the janitor's faith was a result of her actions and that she represented the chaos and cold in the universe. Does Root have any more soul-shaking moments coming up this season?
That was kind of a big one for now, I think. I hope that it comes up again. I think those scenes and those conversations she has with Harold are kind of a buildup from their time in the library. It's kind of all going into that moment where it all came to that decision about questioning everything she's believed in.
I don't know. I'm excited to see if there are any more. We still have more scripts to come. But there's so much as the season progresses. I think the question that really is the one that takes over is, "Do you really want to see what it's like when two gods go to war?" Where I'm trying to get everyone on board to make sure Samaritan doesn't come online. That's sort of Root's battle at this point.
Root discusses the machine with Finch:
Will you be back a lot more this season?
I think I'm in all of the episodes.
Exciting! You're missed when you're not on.
It's a fun character, to have her disappear and show up in Antarctica or wherever. It's kind of fun to keep that mystery and hop around and wonder what she's up to.
It sounds as if they're building an army down in South America.
They've got all sorts of guys down there!
Is there any more of Root's history left to reveal?
I don't know the answer. I mean, we haven't done that this year, but it seems like there's a gap between the Oregon Trail and getting into [the present]. I would be curious about how Root learned about finding the Machine. How she first discovered it. We haven't really gotten into that.
Do you think Root has learned the lesson the Machine was trying to teach, or do you think she's got a ways to go?
You know, it seems like it's going to be a struggle. But she seems pretty willing. She's put so much faith into the Machine at this point and believed her fully. It was almost like she was asking Harold to please tell her that that wasn't the case so she can be off the hook. But now she accepts what the Machine meant. That would be a lesson learned.
Is there anything else you're looking forward to doing this season?
It's all really — it's been such a crazy season already. There's been so many big things that have happened. Like when Carter died, that seems like that would have been the season finale. And then the next episode after that was even crazier. It's building and building and building.
So, I'm really just excited to see what happens at the end. We don't know yet; we haven't got those scripts yet. Everyone's on pins and needles; we're all waiting to see what happens! There are so many great bad guys and all these organizations, and so many more people seem to know about the Machine than did before. So, yeah, to see where we are at the end of the year is what I'm most looking forward to.
The last time we spoke with the executive producers [Jonathan Nolan and Greg Plageman], they said when you have a big surprise, the thing to do is pile on more surprises to keep everyone on their toes. So now we just assume people are going to die every episode.
I guess that's the other good thing about reading the scripts is you know if you're alive. We probably all feel that same fear: "Is it this week?"
Root confronts Finch:
Have you modeled the character on anyone or anything in particular? It seems that if Fred and Illyria from "Angel" merged, Root would be the result.
[Laughs.] I guess that would be good. No, I don't think so. It was so interesting coming into this part, because the first episode I did I played, basically, a psychiatrist the whole time. Root was undercover as the PoI. That was the initial character that I had, so all I had to go on was the last scene of that episode, when I was making choices about what kind of crazy person she was going to be.
I think there's so many bad guys that — like, if I was to have gotten in the car and shot her, I think I should say something like, "I thought she'd never stop talking," or something, and say it deadpan and badass. And they were like, "We just want her to sound — just say it like you. [Laughs.] Yeah, we just want Root to be like you, but then she kills people." I don't know. I must project an insane killer vibe!
If Joss Whedon calls you after "Avengers 2," which Shakespeare play do you hope he'll ask you to be in?
I was just thinking if there was a second [Avengers], then we'd get to do two movies! I don't know. I would probably say "Twelfth Night," but I know that Joss has a big — I feel like he would choose "Hamlet." That would be my guess because he loves that one.
Have you had a hankering to play Ophelia?
You know, jeez, I don't know if I'm still Ophelia material. I read Ophelia to Joss's Hamlet a long time ago, but that was a while back. It was a lot of fun.
What else are you watching on TV now?
I watched "True Detective." I've been watching all my friends in their last year of "How I Met Your Mother." Oh, I just watched, for the day — in one day — all of the second season of "House of Cards." It was very cold outside.
"Person of Interest" airs Tuesdays at 10 p.m. on CBS.