On Person of Interest, Sarah Shahi Trades 'Wink- Wink, Flirt-Flirt' for Being 'The Ultimate Bad-Ass'

Person of Interest Season 2 SpoilersThere’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]Person Of Interest

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”?PERSON OF INTEREST
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!

Want more scoop on POI, or for any other show? Email mattmtvguy@gmail.com and your question may be answered via Matt’s Inside Line.

Comments are monitored, so don’t go off topic, don’t frakkin’ curse and don’t bore us with how much your coworker’s sister-in-law makes per hour. Talk smart about TV!

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  1. Elena says:

    I thought the creator was named Jonathan Nolan? But anyway, I’m exited to see how Sarah does in a role so different from anything I’ve seen her in before. I feel like this season of Person of Interest has been very strong so far, and I have high hopes for the newest episode.

  2. This is gonna be a great episode, can’t wait, great interview Matt.

  3. Kel says:

    It’s been an excellent season so far and this looks like a good one, but no one is as badass as John Reese!

  4. JoeC says:

    What a great season it has been! And this sounds like another memorable one….

  5. Melissa says:

    It says Faily Legal Alumn… i guess i missed that i got cancelled :(

  6. nlc6868 says:

    The description of the character is very descriptive of the main character in the Brad Thor books named Scot Horvath. Super secret black-op reporting only to the president. Hope it’s a ongoing character.

  7. Her character as Dani Reese in the short lived Life was also pretty dark and badass, mainly in the first season and she was perfect in it. She is much more than that wink-wink-flirt-flirt cutsie she often casted for. She has a fabulous smile and a really captivating persona, but she has the real edge to play deeper characters too.

  8. lll says:

    If people like the character I heard she will become a recurring character on the show. We’ll see how people like her tonight.

    • Jack says:

      I think they’re clearly setting her up for her own show.

    • MaryAnn says:

      She was fantastic! This is the role she was born for. She could carry a show on her on, or add a great deal to Person of Interest as a recurring character. I just hope that the powers that be pursue it.

  9. Magically Suspicious says:

    Part of me wishes the lovely Sarah would find a home she deserves….the other part of me loves that she keeps turning up on all my favorite shows in guest roles and making them better.

  10. Jack says:

    Looks like a spin-off pitch, huh? Would love to see a show based on Sam Shaw. Tiny girl goes around beating up boys lol. Would be cool.

  11. prish says:

    My husband is freaked! “I thought the wrong show was on.” “I’m shocked.” “That’s not the show I turn in to see, every week.” He just turned off the TV, and is going to bed, very disappointed. My husband says that she is, obviously, not trained in martial arts, like Reese. IMHO, the producers, really, need to think through these changes. I had to have him fast forward the new kicking girl and root scene. I am so tired of the root track, also.

  12. Sirgeorge Miller says:

    Wow,wow..Sarah Shahi was superb in Person of Inrest. It’s hard to believe she’s the same actress in Fairly Legal. I wish could be a regular no Person of Intrest.I love you Sarah keep up the good work.

  13. I saw the episode last night and I watched it twice and will watch it a 3rd time, It blows all the other superb episodes of this series away. I hope there is a TV series or Movie spinoff for this character. If the network have any sense then they must realize they have a gold mine of a character here.

  14. jeffrey gordon says:

    Yeah, I had to check the programming at the beginning, thought I was watching another show there. I had never even heard of Sarah before, wondering how to pronounce her last name?

    What a gorgeous woman, and she pulled off the role very convincingly to me! She could be a great offset to Jimmy C, he might have to raise his game a little to keep ahead of the young lady.

    Great year for the series, I don’t know anyone else who watches it, but I have enjoyed it as I work with Caviezel’s brother in law.


  15. Plum says:

    The episode was incredible, so I have to wonder if there’s any chance of POI adding a spinoff show with Sam Shaw in the future.

  16. barry green says:

    sam was hot and deadly…………sighhhhhhhhhhh

  17. Missy Kelly says:

    Did I just watch a pilot? Glad to see her working – Life should still be on the air but was that a pilot for a spin-off series?

    • prish says:

      Ah, I loved her in Life. I am still waiting for the tv movie to tie up the series. I loved that show and her acting with Damian Lewis. She was part of the team, there, not side lining a team. The Root interjection didn’t help, either.

  18. Pregnar-Kraps says:

    I loved Sarah Shahi from Life and she was terrific in POI this week. Hope she returns to this already outstanding series. Last night’s episode was superb!

  19. Kevin in CT says:

    I really enjoyed seeing Sarah on this show as I was a big fan of Fairly Lega,l but the show is beginning to get a bit confusing for me. Too many characters to keep track of IMHO. Please, no yelling & screaming, I’m just stating my opinion.

  20. John Stanton says:

    I liked Finch’s line about Sam and he working for the same “entity”. This is an excellent euphemism for “the machine”.

    I was recently re-watching the first season and caught a reference to Ray Kurzweil (“The Singularity is Near”). It might have been in the episode where John picked up a copy of “The Ghost in the Machine” and Finch says he is breaking the boundaries of space and time. Root using the name Turing (in in Alan Turing) is a nice nod to the Turing Test. PoI is currently the best SF on TV. Reminds me of when the Lost producers said “Shhh, don’t tell anyone it is science fiction, we need good ratings.”

    As Bowie sings: “God is an American.” Connect the dots ;-)