Exclusive: Amy Acker on last night’s emotional “Person of Interest”

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[Spoiler Alert: Do not read ahead unless you’ve watched last night’s episode of CBS’s Person of Interest. Major plot points discussed in this story.]

The 100th episode of any series is bound to be a big one and last night’s Person of Interest definitely rocked us to our core with the loss of one of our favorites on the CBS series.

Last night, in a post-mortem for the episode, creator/executive producer Jonathan Nolan and executive producer Greg Plageman explained the decision to have Root (Amy Acker) meet her demise and, in a twist fitting for the journey of not only the character but the series, Root’s voice became the voice of the previously mute Machine.

Of course, we’ve been watching the show closely as Root and Shaw (Sarah Shahi, who has been turning us on since her days on The L Word) started a flirtation last season which culminated in a rough and tough sex scene a few episodes back. And even though that #Shoot scene ended up being a simulation that existed only in the mind of the tortured Shaw, it still gave us a huge amount of hotness as well as insight into just how Shaw felt about Root.

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While the producers gave us their take on Root’s end on the show, AfterEllen also had the chance to talk to Acker, who spoke of what Shaw meant to Root as well as having an LGBT character get killed off in a season where a lot of queer women have seen their journeys end. Here’s what she had to say:

AfterEllen: Did you know this might be the end of Root’s journey and the timing of it all?

Amy Acker:  They told me the day before San Diego Comic-Con! It was hard to keep the secret that long…it was interesting because at that point we really didn’t know what was going to happen with the show. We just knew we were only picked up for 13 [episodes]. But they made a point to say, “You’re still going to be a part of the show. You’re just becoming a God.” It’s hard to become too upset when they’re making you into a God.

 

How would you describe Root’s sexuality? In the beginning of her time on the show, it didn’t really come up but obviously with Shaw, things definitely changed.

AA: Well, I think clearly she’s in love with Shaw. She’s kind of always been a loner and really her first love was The Machine. That was the only thing she was able to care about was The Machine…so when she found Shaw, I think that was a major turning point for her character. Harold [Finch, played by Michael Emerson], as well, but in particular her relationship with Shaw made her start to question the value of The Machine over humanity or vice versa. I think she clearly had found something in Shaw that she had never found in any other person in the world so it made for this epic love story.

 

AE: And Person of Interest isn’t a touchy-feely kind of drama so it was a really great thing to see explored in the show.

AA: I think that was what made it fun. Sarah and I, as actors, had so much fun playing off of each other in the scenes and [the writers] saw that these characters that they wrote were so different and had such a magnetic, sometimes polarizing, chemistry but always bringing them back to each other no matter how much I tried to annoy her and she pushed me away. They wrote it so well that it made it so much fun for us. I loved every scene we had together.

 

AE: Even their last big scene together, Shaw flirts with Root as gunfire is going off all around them.

AA: My personal take on it is that Shaw is kind of impenetrable in general. Not a lot phases her but Root kind of figured out which buttons to push. Even if it was just Shaw rolling her eyes, she knew that she had gotten through.

 

AE: What’s your take on the fact that we got to see Root and Shaw together but we didn’t necessarily get it in real life?

AA: I thought that episode was really fascinating and Sarah did such a great job with it so, for me, what I liked from Root’s point of view, it showed that it wasn’t a one-sided relationship. In the simulation, she’s thinking about Root. You’ve seen me pining away for Shaw and trying to find her and you didn’t see her take on it but I think that evened out the relationship a little bit.

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AE: How did you feel about the heroic way Root went out?

AA: That was the hardest scene I’ve ever had to shoot. All the logistics of driving that car and the guns out the window and the angles and it kept raining so we went back to that location three or four times just getting little pieces at a time. I felt like “Is this really going to come together?” It felt like such a big thing because it was “We need one more piece, we need one more piece.” It wasn’t a normal scene where you see it build. It was so action intensive that I felt like I was an action hero, for sure.

 

AE: Since Root is going to live on in a way as the voice of The Machine, what did you think of that twist?

AA: Even though she ends up dying she gets exactly what she wants. This is how she came into the show. She was fighting for singularity and all of that and wanting people to become machines and how The Machine should take over. The fact that The Machine chose to become her, it was the reverse of what she had dreamed. She had wanted to become a machine but the fact that The Machine chose her, it was kind of a love story. It was pretty awesome that they made it happen that way.

 

AE: When we hear your voice as The Machine in these final episodes, do we get some of Root’s personality in there or is it just the voice?

AA: What’s really cool about it and it goes back to that same thing about virtual reality and I think we talked about it in the scene where Harold and I are driving just before Root dies and how The Machine knows us so well we will never really be dead. So what you hear is exactly Root. It’s really neat.

 

AE: With LGBT characters being killed off a lot on TV lately, especially women, how do you think audiences will react to Root’s end on the show?

AA: I think one thing in particular that’s different about our show is that it’s the end so there’s a lot more bad stuff coming. There are other things that are going to go wrong. It wasn’t like “Oh, let’s kill this character.” It just didn’t feel like a bad thing at all because she’s getting what she wants and she’s getting what she came into this world and this Team Machine family trying to do, which was create The Machine and be a part of The Machine. Her death allows that to happen. It’s sad that anyone dies, especially when it’s your own character, but I thought “Oh, this is sad. I won’t see everyone,” but it’s just the way the whole thing has handled, she’s still such a presence in the show. It’s not like she’s gone.

 

AE: It all seems very full circle since I’ve watched the show from the start.

AA: I mean, I think they’ve had this planned since the beginning. This part, I think, they had planned before Shaw and Root were going to have the chemistry so that got to be a cool little piece of the puzzle but this was always the bigger picture.

 

AE: How have you seen your fan base change once the Shaw/Root story took off?

AA: Somewhat. I’ve met some really cool people and I think this would not have been a part I thought, going into it, would have such a profound affect on people. I’ve heard such amazing stories and I’m proud to have gotten to play this character and I’m proud of how they handled the whole relationship. It’s been inspiring just talking to all the fans that I’ve met that this relationship has been important to so I feel really lucky that I got to be the actress to play this part.

Person of Interest airs Mondays and Tuesdays at 10pm on CBS.

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