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'Person of Interest' star Sarah Shahi says it's about 'to get yucky and nasty' for Shaw

Person of Interest star Sarah Shahi knows tough. The versatile actress has played her share of cops and lawyers in shows as varied as NBC’s Life and Chicago Fire and USA’s Fairly Legal, even popping up as Sylvester Stallone’s tattoo-artist daughter in Walter Hill’s action flick Bullet to the Head.

As former ops agent Sameen Shaw, Shahi has taken no-nonsense to the next level, going head-to-head with Jim Caviezel’s Reese in the stoicism department. But she’s also undoubtedly a crucial member of Team Machine, always there to diffuse a hairy situation when Reese can’t do it alone. She’s even grown an attachment with Bear, the team’s dog and unofficial fifth member.

As the show nears its midseason finale, EW Community caught up with Shahi to get the scoop on Tuesday’s “Honor Among Thieves,” which focuses on her character.

ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY COMMUNITY: Shaw’s quite a complex character—she started out as the female counterpart to Reese but now has kind of taken over the role vacated by the dearly departed Detective Carter. Yet despite slivers of backstory, it seems that of all the team members, we know the least about Shaw. 

SARAH SHAHI: Right. There was an episode last year written by the same writer who wrote this week’s episode, David Slack, where there were a lot of flashbacks with my character so we kind of got to see what happened … that was the most we ever got out of her. Unlike Reese, she is somebody who was presumed dead by her own country, ’cause they tried to kill her. She faked her death and her joining in on this team isn’t so much because she really likes them; it was more like she needed them and the extra set of eyes and ears to cover her ass and keep looking out for her. But her abilities are equal to Reese. She can do everything he can do, she’s just in different packaging. The way I’ve always pictured her, if I can dare to even use this analogy, is almost like Robert De Niro in Heat. He works with a team but at the end of the day, he’s a lone wolf. He [could] walk away whenever he wanted to. [Shaw] is there but she’s not there, and at any moment she could turn and she can walk and not even blink an eye. She might try to take [Bear] the dog with her [laughs]; she does like the dog a lot. But other than that, she has no reason to take sides.

There’s some speculation that that the relationship between Shaw and Root might lead to … something else.
[Laughs] Well, what I kind of want to say about that is I’ve been on that show before, called The L Word. There is pretty much nothing I haven’t done, and it wouldn’t shock me. Root has been the one character that has been able to crack her a little bit. Shaw almost wants to hug her one minute, punch her the next. They have a playful bickering that will be explored throughout this season. I think it’s something the audience really loves, the connection these two psychopaths have. I mean, nothing says “love” like, you know, torture.

There is an interesting trend going on this season with episodes that highlight a specific character. So far, we’ve gotten one each for Reese and Fusco. This week, it’s Shaw’s turn. Is there a grand plan behind these character-driven episodes?
I think when you have a cast as large as ours and characters that are so different, I think it’s for the benefit of the actors and the audience, really. Fusco has tons of fans, Harold has tons of fans. Reese, clearly, has tons of fans. Amy’s character, my character … I think it’s a way of just springing up the love and also giving some of the other characters a break. But I’m one of those weird people who really likes to work, and anytime there is a Shaw-centric episode, I look forward to it, because that’s when you get to really do the fun stuff.

The funny thing is, even though the team is spread apart, I feel that the dynamic between them has never been stronger.
You know, you’re right, and I don’t think I’ve ever noticed it before. … It’s almost like even though we’re spread apart, we’re relying on each other far more than when we were together. It’s definitely a testament to the writing that they keep us together even though we’re apart.

Shaw had trouble going along with her civilian cover when the season first started , so it was replaced with something more to her liking—namely, in the criminal underworld. This week’s episode, I suspect, will highlight the danger that comes with that choice.
You are correct. What made you say that? [laughs] You have this character like Shaw who, when there isn’t enough chaos happening, well then—guess what?—she’s going to go make her own. So the team was really smart to introduce her to this smash-and-grab crew at the end of episode one [of season 4]. Now, we have a POI who is a member of international thieves and she has to go undercover in order to keep tabs on him. And with that comes the threat of exposing herself more so than in any other case—and the risk of being detected by Samaritan. So, what I can tell you about this episode is that the last 25 seconds, I don’t even know if it’s that long … you just don’t want to miss. That will set up everything that happens from that point on through the rest of the season. The stakes are going to be so high and it’s going to get yucky and nasty and it’s going to happen fast.

Sometimes I think Shaw is almost like a recovering addict who might relapse at any moment, taking the team down with her.
Yeah, that’s a very good way of putting her. Harold is her “sponsor” and he tries to keep her at bay but … you’re right, her addiction is violence, it’s killing. I often tease Jonathan [Nolan] that I really want to have a sex scene. You’d learn so much about her character in a sex scene, in those moments where she’s able to let down a bit and get such an insight of who she is. We’re all superheroes on this show, so there aren’t too many moments where there is a crack in our veneer or we have to show these vulnerabilities or flaws, but it would be fun to explore that side of her.

One show I think a lot about, believe it or not, is Life, which you starred in with a pre-Homeland Damian Lewis. I still think the show was prematurely canceled after two seasons.
Yeah … it was at a time when there was a lot of chaos internally at the network and I wasn’t sure what direction they were going in. But I think Damian and I have gone off to do okay—more so Damian [laughs]. That was a fun show to be on, and Damian and I still keep in touch. Yeah, it was nice while it lasted … nothing is forever.

Person of Interest airs Tuesdays at 10/9C on CBS.

TV Families | EW.com
Mark Harris
February 23, 1990 AT 05:00 AM EST

The Bradys are back, with a passel of 90’s hassles. Do they represent the typical American Family? Did they ever? Who does? Stare and compare!

Kind Of Family
TheBradyBunch 1969-74: Blended
The Bradys 1990-: Enormous
Married…With Children 1987-: Postnuclear
Thirtysomething 1987-: Extended
The Flintstones 1960-66: Modern Stone Age

Family Pet
The Brady Bunch: Tiger
The Bradys: Alice
Married…With Children: Buck
Thirtysomething: Grendel
The Flintstones: Dino

Typical Guest Star
The Brady Bunch: Davey Jones
The Bradys: There’s no room
Married…With Children: Sam Kinison
Thirtysomething: Carly Simon
The Flintstones: Ann Margrock

Expression Of Joy
The Brady Bunch: Groovy!
The Bradys: Ritual hugging
Married…With Children: ”Oh, great.”
Thirtysomething: ”Of course I’m happy for you. Really. But what about me? Why does it always have to be about you?
The Flintstones: ”Yabba-dabba doo

Expression Of Rage

The Brady Bunch: ”Hmmm…”
The Bradys: ”If you back away from something you really want, then you’re a quitter!” (the angriest any Brady has ever been)
Married…With Children: ”Aaagh, God, take me from this miserable life!”
Thirtysomething: ”I’m not angry, OK?”
The Flintstones: ”Willllmaaaa!”

Typical Problem
The Brady Bunch: Marcia and her rival both want to be the prom queen.
The Bradys: Bobby gets paralyzed.
Married…With Children: Al doesn’t buy his family Christmas presents.
Thirtysomething: Nancy gets cancer.
The Flintstones: Fred and Barney are staying out too late.

Typical Solution
The Brady Bunch: The prom committee decides to have two queens.
The Bradys: Bobby gets married.
Married…With Children: They hate him.
Thirtysomething: If only we knew…
The Flintstones: Wilma and Betty decide to follow them.

House Style
The Brady Bunch: Conservative but mod, circa ’69
The Bradys: Conservative but mod, circa ’90
Married…With Children: Roach motel
Thirtysomething: Enviable
The Flintstones: Suburban cave

Clothing Style
The Brady Bunch: Early Osmonds
The Bradys: Made in the USA
Married…With Children: Flammable fabrics
Thirtysomething: Eclectic earth tones; nice ties
The Flintstones: One-piece

Most Annoying Character
The Brady Bunch: Alice’s cousin Emma, the substitute housekeeper (too strict)
The Bradys: Marcia’s husband, Wally (chronically unemployable)
Married…With Children: Steve (supercilious)
Thirtysomething: Ellyn (goes through Hope’s drawers, babbles, changes hairstyle every other week, generally mistreats her friends)
The Flintstones: Mr. Slate (bossy)

Attitude Toward Sex
The Brady Bunch: Never heard of it
The Bradys: Omigod — even Cindy does it!
Married…With Children: Peg: Yes. Al: No.
Thirtysomething: They didn’t get all those kids by accident.
The Flintstones: Prehistoric

How Spouses Fight
The Brady Bunch: They don’t.
The Bradys: Infrequently, but it happens
Married…With Children: Tooth and nail
Thirtysomething: They stop talking
The Flintstones: Fred and Barney go bowling while Wilma and Betty max out their charge cards.

How Kids Get Into Trouble
The Brady Bunch: Greg takes a puff of a cigarette.
The Bradys: Carol’s grandson steals her business cards and sticks them in the spokes of Bobby’s wheelchair.
Married…With Children: By committing felonies
Thirtysomething: Ethan plays with a forbidden toy rocket.
The Flintstones: They don’t.

How They’re Punished

The Brady Bunch: ”It’s not what you did, honey — it’s that you couldn’t come to us.”
The Bradys ”Next time, ask.”
Married…With Children: By the authorities
Thirtysomething: It blows up in his face.
The Flintstones: They’re not.

What Family Does For Fun
The Brady Bunch: Takes special three-part vacations to Hawaii and the Grand Canyon
The Bradys: Has flashbacks
Married…With Children: Exchanges insults
Thirtysomething: Talks
The Flintstones: Attends showings of The Monster at the Bedrock Drive-In

Unsolved Mysteries
The Brady Bunch: How exactly did Carol’s first husband and Mike’s first wife die?
The Bradys: What’s with Marcia’s new face and Bobby’s blonde hair
Married…With Children: What kind of hair spray does Peg use?
Thirtysomething: Why did Nancy take Elliot back? What do Gary and Susanna see in each other?
The Flintstones: How does Barney’s shirt stay on if he has no shoulders? Where do Fred and Wilma plug in their TV?

Worst Behavior
The Brady Bunch: The Brady children once made Alice feel under-appreciated.

The Bradys: Marcia’s son Mickey watches Bobby’s car-crash tape for fun.
Married…With Children: The Bundy’s kill their neighbor’s dog.
Thirtysomething: Elliot has an affair and talks about it.
The Flintstones: Characters don’t wear under-clothes.

Best Reason To Watch
The Brady Bunch: This is what life should be.
The Bradys: They’re all grown-ups now!
Married…With Children: Terry Rakolta hates it.
Thirtysomething (Tie) This is your life. This isn’t your life.
The Flintstones: This is what life might have been.

Best Reason Not To Watch
The Brady Bunch: Blurred vision from rerun overdoses.
The Bradys: You’re all grown-ups now.
Married…With Children: She has a point.
Thirtysomething: After a while, you think it’s real.
The Flintstones: The Simpsons

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