Television

Sting in the tale

CLICKETY CLACK And the team (Eddie Kaye Thomas, Elyes Gabel, Ari Stidham, Robert Patrick and Jadyn Wong) save the world

CLICKETY CLACK And the team (Eddie Kaye Thomas, Elyes Gabel, Ari Stidham, Robert Patrick and Jadyn Wong) save the world  

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The cast and crew of Scorpion talk about the joys and grief of showing a day in the lives of geniuses

Even though James Cameron’s Terminator 2: Judgement Day (1991) was all about Arnold Schwarzenegger being the good Terminator and awesome special effects, Robert Patrick as T-1000 grabbed quite a few eyeballs as the ever morphing (why does he stick to his cop avatar though?) lean, mean fighting machine. And he is still recognised for that role.

“That’s the one that to this day I still get stopped for,” Patrick said in Los Angeles. “I’m so proud of that role. If you’re going to break out, being a terminator is a pretty cool way to become introduced to the world.”

Patrick was addressing the media about his latest role as Agent Cabe Gallo in the series, Scorpion. Based on the life of Walter O’Brien, a genius, Scorpion follows Walter and his team of geniuses as they save the world. Gallo works with Homeland Security and is Walter’s handler. “This role is sort of a nice culmination or an amalgamation of a lot of different characters I’ve played.”

Talking about how much of the show is based on real incidents, Elyes Gabel who plays Walter says: “There are certain cheats because we don’t have all day to explain a theory. Otherwise, it would be like 20 minutes with the explanation of theory. So we like to create a concentration of the explanation of the science but it all stems from the truth.”

Scorpion is all hi-tech, but the 56-year-old Patrick said: “When I went to college, the computer was a couple of floors on a building, and they taught you binary code. I was so bored with the whole thing that I quit. Now, years later I’m being forced not to be a Luddite and embrace the computer age and the technology.”

Insisting he enjoys working with actor-directors, Patrick says: “Clint Eastwood is an amazing director. I did Flags of Our Fathers with him. And I also worked with him as an actor. He’s got an amazing camera technique. I’ve worked with Billy Bob Thornton twice as a director. He is amazing. Both those guys are actors so maybe I like working with directors that understand the process of acting because it’s a magical, technical, intuitive and cerebral thing.”

In the series, Gallo and Walter have a rocky relationship. “That is going to continue,” says Patrick. “Our relationship is going to play out for a long time. Something did happen. He doesn’t trust me. I think we’re going to reveal certain things down the road. In different episodes, you’re going to see what I was up against because I am a government official that follows protocol. And my higher ups are telling me what to do with this guy. I protect him because I do care about him, but I also want to utilize him for the asset that he is. So, I’ve got to allow him to be exploited to a certain degree, because of his knowledge, what he can do for our government.”

American Idol star, Katherine McPhee plays Paige, a single mom to a nine-year-old genius. She decodes the world for Walter and the other geniuses while Walter decodes her son for her. Admitting she was “terrible in school,” Katherine said: “I do actually love statistics. I like statistics because I think they make you sound smart.”

When asked what special gift would he prefer in real life, Eddie Kaye Thomas who plays a behaviourist with a gambling problem said: “I wish I could fix my own appliances.”

Though Ari Stidham plays a math genius with OCD in the show, Ari said: “I’m not a math guy. I cheated my way through math in high school. What interests me in the show is all the behavioural stuff that Eddie gets to do because the nature of acting is watching people and trying to figure out what’s going on in their heads. And if there is a superpower that any of our characters have that I would want it’s definitely that one.”

Nick Santora, executive producer of the show along with Nicholas Wootton says, “This show is inspired by the brilliance of the real life of Walter.” Wootton adds: “What we try to do is take this person who has this incredibly high intellect and who works with other people with high intellect, and create this fictional world and this fictional character, the television version of Walter O’Brien. I think the real life Walter O’Brien will tell in you in a second that he hasn’t defused bombs and some of the other things that we have him do. We wanted to use his true brilliance as the jumping off point for the show. So, the inspiration is totally real. There is this real Walter O’Brien who has this incredible intellect, but we then take creative liberties with our storytelling.”

Though the show starts off with Walter being rude and cold to Paige, Wootton promises that “seeing that relationship evolve really is the sort of the core central relationship of what the series will be. It will be a long evolution and something that we will take our time with.”

There are many reasons for Scorpion not being too cyber-centric according Santora. “We wanted to see these guys be able to use their genius in various ways. We feel if we put them in front of the computer and they do a little clickety-clack and they get the answer, it’s almost like a cheat. The real-life Walter, has had some very cool adventures, but a lot of them are very tech- and computer-centric. I knew that wouldn’t be a TV show, people just sitting and typing at a computer. I was honest with the real Walter. I was like look, I’m going to kind of take this idea of this guy with this really incredible IQ, and maybe use nuggets from some of your cases, but then really expand on it in a fictional manner. There was never a goal to make a documentary-style show that mimicked every single thing that he did in real life.”

Scorpion airs on Fridays at 11 pm on AXN.

The writer was in Los Angeles at the invitation of AXN India, the talent interviews were coordinated by CBS Studios LA

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Printable version | Jan 20, 2020 5:55:11 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/features/metroplus/radio-and-tv/sting-in-the-tale/article6676125.ece

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