There’s not a whole lot Sarah Shahi can say about her role on this Thursday’s Person of Interest (CBS, 9/8c). But what she does reveal, she reveals with relish. Plus… it’s Sarah Shahi, so we’re going to allow it.
At the time of Shahi’s casting, series creator Jonah Nolan said of her role as Sam Shaw, “If James Bond and Sarah Conner had a kid, Shaw would kick its ass.” The actress herself ups the ante,summing up Shaw as “the love child of Catwoman and Jason Bourne.”
You almost want to leave it at that, but for those seeking more preview, here’s our full, ambitiously scoop-seeking dialogue with the Life and Fairly Legal alum.
TVLINE | The “James Bond/Sarah Connor” thing – is that how they pitched the role to you?
It was — and also as, you know, kind of “the female 007.” This character was an ultimate bad-ass, which is something I’ve never really had the chance to play yet always fantasized about doing. She’s a superhero in this world, and almost Reese’s equal in some way, too.
TVLINE | What is Shaw up to when we first meet her?
Well, there’s not much I can tell you. But I will tell you what I can. From first glance, she seems like just any other woman — and then you look a little deeper and there’s something very kind of flawed about her. Something that’s a little broken and highly dangerous. She’s a soldier — I can tell you that. And I can tell you that she is in the most covert of operations, part of a very secret paramilitary organization. Beyond that, I don’t know what else I can say. [Pauses] I can tell you that I’m in Cabo right now, on vacation, as I’m talking to you. [Laughs]
TVLINE | Did you have to do any sort of training for the role?
I did. I went to weapons school because I was going to be handling a bunch of different weapons, and I had a bit of fight training before we started. It was a “crash course” in, like, seven days. I had to become, you know, lethal.
TVLINE | What does she make of Reese and Finch’s interest in her?
I can’t tell you that because I would have to reveal a plot point. You’re being sneaky. You’re trying! And you can keep trying. I can promise you that it is a fantastic episode, and I’ll tell you this: From the minute the episode starts, it just goes. And it does not let up until the last second. It’s very intense.
TVLINE | Is that why Jonah himself directed this episode? Because it’s that high-octane?
Possibly. He wrote the episode, so I know this character meant a lot to him and I think he wanted to be very hands-on. I couldn’t imagine him handing this episode over to somebody else because Shaw is his baby in so many ways.
TVLINE | You mentioned Shaw being Reese’s equal. What would the dynamic between the two of them be, were they to come face to face? Is it a mutual admiration society?
Here — you know what Reese and Finch do, and I can tell you that what Shaw does is track and eliminate terrorists before they have a chance to act. I will tell you that, and then you can make of that what you will in terms of what her relationship with Reese and Finch is going to be, since in some ways she parallels a bit of what they do, in a very different way.
TVLINE | Does playing such a juicy role make it almost hard to go out for a pilot season and look a lot of the “same old, same old”?
That’s the other thing — I took this job because I wanted the opportunity to work with Jonah. I mean, I was on the first season of Alias and to kind of be in J.J. [Abrams]’s company again… that’s never bad company to keep. And with Jonah, it’s such fantastic writing. I feel like there’s TV, and then there’s Jonah Nolan. And again, this is not a role that I have done before. I’m used to a lot of love scenes. I’m used to something that requires me to kick up my heels and wink-wink, flirt-flirt with a twirl of my skirt. But this is dark. It’s a bit stylized. It’s a heightened sense of drama, all the time. The tomboyishness that came out of me doing this was kind of amazing, and I hope just people buy the end result, because it felt really good and quite natural to just kick somebody’s ass.
TVLINE | Do you have any brothers?
I do have a brother, one who was in the army himself. And you know a brother’s job is to torment his little sister….
TVLINE | But now you can show him that you’ve got the goods.
Exactly, exactly. Tit-for-tat, finally!