Top Shot: A Heron on the Storm

Top Shot features the photo with the most votes from the previous day’s Daily Dozen. The Daily Dozen is 12 photos chosen by the Your Shot editors each day from thousands of recent uploads. Our community has the chance to vote for their favorite from the selection.

A great blue heron walks along a Biloxi beach as a storm passes by in the background. Photograph by Scott Cordell

Michael Emerson Reddit AMA

Michael did a Reddit AMA last week; here are some of the questions he took and answers he gave.

[click here to read more Qs & As from LOST cast/crew Reddit AMAs]

Ben Linus is one of my favorite television characters of all time. So I have to ask, what was the biggest challenge about this role? Any great memories from the set that you would like to share?
The challenge of Ben Linus is the same challenge you have with any long-running television role. We’re always fighting to keep your stamina up and keep the character interesting.I have loads of fantastic memories from playing Ben Linus. Some of them have to do with locations where we shot on beaches at night or at sunrise, when it was so breathtaking we would just set down the cameras and look at where we are. Also had many great scenes with Terry O'Quinn, who played John Locke. There’s a great scene were Benjamin Linus convinces John Locke not to hang himself, gets the information he needs, then strangles John Locke. It was very dark. Terry O'Quinn was never greater than that day. I’m sure on that day he was the greatest actor on the planet.

Hey Michael! Huge fan! So excited for the 5th season of Person of Interest! Whatever happened to that show that was going to star you and Terry O'Quinn? Odd Jobs, I believe it was called? I would love to see you two together again.
Maybe someday we’ll get around to doing that show. It just–we had pitched it and there was some interest in it, but we could never get anyone to write a script that sounded like our idea. Our whole idea was to make a show about guys who were–it was an action show starring guys who were too old to do action anymore–and everything that happened to them would kind of knock them out. They were weak and frail like real people our age. But the more people wrote the script, the more they started to seem like superheroes, kicking down doors, and that was what we wanted it to NOT be, so eventually we ran out of time. It’s still on a shelf somewhere in the universe and someday we may be able to get back to it.

Liked your performance on LOST. Btw; did it really hurt when you got ‘hit’ on the show? I recall having read that some time ago
My character was the most beaten character in the history of the show. When you shoot scenes of violence somewhere along the lines someone’s going to make a mistake, you get to close. There was a scene where Ian Cusick totally clocked me. I mean, not just a grazing but totally laid me out with a punch that went wrong. It was in the final season. That actual punch made the cut. I was always being beaten by younger actors who were more wound up than I am.

Who is sexier in person. Jim Caviezel or Josh Holloway?
They’re both easy on the eyes, I must say. Josh has a kind of southern charm, a twinkle in his eye, that I find is attractive. Jim is funnier than people would guess, and that’s a great trait of his, and it makes him a very dear person.

HUGE FAN! What made you decide to pursue acting when you did and did you ever fathom your success?
I think I always wanted to be an actor–since I was a teenager. That’s what I enjoyed most in school. But when I moved from Iowa to New York City in the 70s, I didn’t know how to get into it and the city kind of knocked the wind out of me, so I drew pictures for a while I was getting things figured out. Illustrating was a very solitary job and I was happy when I found my way into something more social.It has all taken me by surprise. It’s a pleasant surprise; I don’t really know what to make of it. I feel like I’ve won the contest in figuring out what to do with my life. That was a success in and of itself, because I think a lot of people don’t find their calling in life. And I’m always glad that I did.

What is your favorite season of lost?
They all have something to recommend them. But maybe season 2, because that’s when my character was introduced, and there was so much mystery surrounding him, and he seemed so scary, haha. There were great episodes and fantastic development in every scene.

If you could choose any role to play, whether it be film, television or stage, what role would you choose? What advice do you have for people trying to become actors?
Because I always play verbal characters, I think it would be fun to play someone who was mute or for some reason unable to speak or communicate with words. That would be an interesting challenge. I don’t know what that role would be. Of course there are lots of big Shakespearean parts I would also love to play someday. It would be nice to play Prospero in the Tempest or King Lear if you have the strength in your older age.My advice would be make sure you love the process of it. If you love the process of it and you can do without fame and fortune and it might be a happy way to spend your life. Be patient with yourself and remind yourself that it’s not a race.

Can you give us an idea of what’s gonna happen in the next season of POI? All hope seems lost after that finale.
I haven’t seen any scripts yet. But I expect that Finch and Root will try to rebuild the machine and that that will require some discussion about what this new version of the machine will be like. It may not all be in Finch’s image or according to his personal principles. And since this may be the last 13 episodes we do, it will have to be game changes or apocalyptic events. I don’t know what the writers have in mind, but I’m sure it will be big and it will be good.

SO happy to see you on here finally! Since I’m sure all the good POI questions will be taken, are there any books that you think everyone should read in their lifetime? And do you think any of these book’s messages would be especially impactful at any particular point in someone’s life? Thank you so much for coming here to do this. My father and I are both HUGE fans of your work!
Oh goodness. There are so many books. I think it’s more important to read than what exactly what you read. There are probably 10,000 worthy books I could name.I would not want to have lived my life without reading the plays of William Shakespeare. Chekhov’s short stories. Alice Munro. Or Dickens. Those are just some of my favorites. I would not want to live this life and not read murder mysteries and ghost stories, which I love. To each his own I guess. It’s good to be a reader.

I see your wife has a new show this fall. (Yay - more Carrie Preston is always a good thing.) How do you manage being a bi-costal couple? And most importantly, who gets Chumley?
We’ve done pretty well over the years by being separated by our work. We just have to figure it out. Carrie is a fearless traveler, and she doesn’t mind getting on a plane to fly across the country just for a weekend and then going back to work. I’m not as good. I don’t enjoy going to the airport. So she does more of the traveling.As far as Chumley goes, we trade custody back and forth. She’s taking him first, for August and September, and then she’ll bring him back to me.

I finally convinced my wife to watch Lost with me, and I kept telling her that Ben was the good guy. She didn’t believe me (and still doesn’t). So what can I tell her, from the very words of the actor, to show her that Ben was a good guy, just had a amoral way of doing things?
I’m not sure the takeaway from Ben Linus is that he was either good or bad. He was both sides of the coin of human ambition. He had some victories and some defeats. I’m not sure we know him any better at the end than we do at the beginning, but he does have more of our sympathy.

Hey Michael! I’m a HUGE fan of your work. Can’t wait for the 5th season of Person of Interest! I was wondering, who you would have liked to played, if not Ben on LOST? And why? :-)
They would never have given me this role, but I continue to be fascinated by Mr. Eko.

If you had to be stuck on an island with 3 cast members from Lost, who would they be? Who wouldn’t you want on this island?
Haha, you know I can’t answer that last part.It would be Terry O'Quinn, definitely, Jorge for sure, and Josh Holloway, he’s so much fun. I think I got along with everyone.

Pancakes or Waffles?