(CBS Local)- “I have to say it seems obvious to me that playing a villain is more fun and more interesting than playing a good guy.”
Michael Emerson has been known for a few villainous roles in his time in the television industry, first appearing as serial killer William Hinks in The Practice before later stealing the show as Ben Linus/Henry Gale on Lost. Now, Emerson is returning to your television screen as a villain once more, this time as Dr. Leland Townsend on CBS’ newest drama Evil.
Emerson, who previously starred as good guy Harold Finch in Person of Interest on the network, says that playing the villian is more fun to him because it allows him to dive in to acting in a way that being the hero does not.
“It always feels like if you’re playing a good guy and you are a good guy in real life, which I think I am, where is the acting in it,” said Emerson in an interview with CBS Local’s Ryan Mayer. “Where is the fun? The strategies and the masks and the deceptions and all of that. I just enjoy that so much more.”
Emerson’s character, Leland Townsend was only briefly introduced in the series’ premiere episode as some sort of facilitator of evil, but it isn’t clear just how deeply he is involved or manipulating events within the show. The motivations, for the character, as Emerson says, aren’t quite clear yet, but it is very clear from the jump that he is meant to be the person the audience sees as the bad guy.
“He just seems to be a full on and unrepentant villain which is alright that leaves out the guess work,” said Emerson. “People aren’t going to be wondering. They got it in one minute that I’m the baddest guy.”
Aside from the clear villainy of his character, there was one other notable thing about the premiere episode of the show. It has very clear, in your face, horror elements that one doesn’t normally see on network television. For Emerson, that is another reason why he was so interested in the role.
“I think it’s kind of thrilling to be working on a legacy network, hour long drama that has such strong horror themes,” said Emerson. I’m interested in horror myself. Or rather, I am interested in scary stories. Not bloodletting or that kind of thing but just the suspense, mystery and creepiness of encountering things that may be beyond the normal. Beyond human.”
In the premiere episode, audiences also got a taste for what Emerson believes will be an overarching theme for the show. At one point, Mike Colter’s character David Acosta, is sitting in a bar looking at horrific events from around the world on a television screen. He says that ‘evil is more connected now, thanks to the internet and social media’. That theme, of people who use the interconnected nature of society to urge others to do bad is one that Emerson sees as an underpinning for the show.
“That is a natural theme and preoccupation for the Kings, Robert and Michelle, who write the show. They’re interested in current events and current problems,” said Emerson. “And it seems like the Internet, as great a tool and connector as it has turned out to be, can also be misused and abused. That is going to be, I think, a big theme in our show. The ways that people who mean to hurt others can join groups and facilitate and cheer lead for others who share their hatreds or preoccupations.”
Episode two of Evil, “177 Minutes” airs tonight on CBS at 10 p.m. Eastern Time. The series is also available through CBS All-Access and the show airs each Thursday at 10 p.m.