Jonah Nolan speaks softly at the Person of Interest Press Room @ NYCC 2012
Jonah Nolan might have had a hoarse voice at the ‘Person of Interest’ press room, but he talked about his tech background, why he’ll never film in New Jersey, and where they filmed the season premiere.
I learned that Jonah took programming classes in college and ran websites, which explains his tech attraction and background knowledge on the show. Honestly, I just wanted to talk to him tech-to-tech. He loved Man on Fire with Denzel Washington and feels it influenced him with Person of Interest. I also learned that he has a sense of humor. He dropped hints about the show where Long Island doubled as Texas and joked that a number will never appear in NJ because they don’t have a tax credit program. He’s clearly an old hat at this. When a journalist/blogger/writer *cough* me *cough* asked him a question that went counter to his original intention, he just complimented the person on the thought. You might have to increase the sound for this clip due to Jonah’s voice. You can tell that Jonah is the writer who spends more of his time behind his laptop and less talking to crowds of people. When I first started performing at ren faires, I used to lose my voice at the end of the weekend because I ran around shouting at hundreds of people for 12 hours a day. Then, I realized I didn’t need to blow out my vocal chords and started doing more vocal exercises. So, you’ll notice that Jonah, after a day of interviews and autograph signings, sounds slightly more hoarse than the rest of his cast. So pump up the volume so you can hear his words of wisdom!
An: What made you decide upon the name of Root? I love the idea of root as the root of all evil, the root directory and if you’re the root user then you can do as much bad stuff as you want.
Jonah: You just answered your own question much more eloquently than I would.
An: OK. I’m done then.
Jonah: We love that. We love the intersection of it. I was a coder in college with C++ and Java. I made a living building websites. I was plugged into so much of it. It’s the ground floor.
An: Last year, I noticed the characters were machine-like and this year the Machine is more human-like, was that deliberate?
Jonah: When someone credits you with a good idea, always say yes. I’m always interested in the question of Artificial Intelligence. I feel like with our show to keep it grounded, to keep it relatable, I take it very very slow. We endeavor to make all the technology you see in the show as real as possible. A writer has an idea for how Finch or Reese get onto someone’s computer/their phone, they have to justify it with existing technology. So, we always wanted to raise the gate in terms of asking questions in what is the Machine.
An: I notice that you’ve been revising the formula, what else do you have in store this season for revising the process?
Jonah: One of these things that I was excited about with the idea of the show. There are so many different ways in and out of it. So, we keep trying to reinvent the formula in terms of what are they looking at? What mistakes are these guys making along the way? But, also trying to cook humor into the pilot and every episode after. We have to keep ourselves interested and amused as writers and hopefully the same’s true for the audience. We always try to have moments of humor, moments of darkness, moments of light.