Michael Emerson – Leland Townsend on CBS’ “Evil”

Having seen the season finale of CBS’ “Evil” this past January with the rest of the world, we would love to introduce two-time Emmy Award-winner and Golden Globe nominee, Michael Emerson. “Evil” is a psychological mystery created by Robert and Michelle King that examines the origins of evil along the dividing line between science and religion. Starring as ‘Townsend’, Emerson plays a seemingly kind and trustworthy man with an appealing manner, however, outward appearances could not be more deceiving.

img 3258 2 - Michael Emerson - Leland Townsend on CBS’ “Evil”

Michael Emerson
[Credit: Jean-Claude]

Emerson is best known for his iconic character ‘Ben Linus’ on ABC’s “LOST”, whose nuanced portrayal of the enigmatic villain has gained Emerson critical acclaim and made him THE fan-favorite of LOST. Aside from 2009 EMMY WINNER for Best Supporting Actor in a Drama Series and 2010 GOLDEN GLOBE NOMINEE for “Best Performance by an Actor in a Supporting Role”, Emerson proved in LOST that being the bad guy pays off. Variety named him as “One of the greatest villains in television history”, as Emerson held LOST’s inexplicable answers close for his five-season tenure on the hit series. He first won an Emmy from when he arrived on small screen in the form of serial killer ‘William Hinks’ on ABC’s THE PRACTICE, winning an EMMY for “Best Guest Performance in a Dramatic Series.”


Welcome to TV Series Hub! Right off the bat, what was making Evil’s demonic therapy session like?

Well, I about choked when I saw the “therapist”! Haha. And then it was just good fun to play the scene as if it was commonplace and aggravating.


How did you process having to act across from a big monster? Was it a real person?

Yes, it’s an actor in an elaborate costume with remote-controlled features. I treated it like it was my dad or my boss – “no big deal”.

Switching to Person of Interest: Being an actor renowned for his villainous roles, how different was playing Harold Finch?

I didn’t change too much of my usual approach- I like everything better when it has mystery.

img 3257 1 - Michael Emerson - Leland Townsend on CBS’ “Evil”

Michael Emerson
[Credit: Jean-Claude]

From Lost’s Ben to Evil’s Leland Townsend, who has been most surprising to play?

Both Ben and Harold had surprising, humanizing transitions- Ben’s suffering and losses made him ultimately sympathetic and Harold’s tender care of his AI “child” was something that made him warm and lovable, I would say.

Your other recent project “The Name of the Rose” is also a departure, how would you describe it?

A great treat for me to play something so exotic from a far-off time and place. To find a voice for the character that suggested an ambitious churchman of the 14th century. A philosophical murder-mystery set in a Medieval monastery! What could be better!

What reaction would you like viewers to have toward Leland Townsend?

Curiosity. Anticipation. Chills. An occasional whoop of laughter.

Religion is one of the biggest topics of discussion ever, how do you think Evil engages viewers with that discussion and contributes meaningful observations about the role religion has?

I think the show is a conversation about how we explain the inexplicable. Do we respond to the seeming “supernatural” with faith or analysis?

Already contributing such rich character material during season one, where do you see Leland going in Evil’s second season?

Leland will be a good soldier and dangerous adversary to our heroes. He has plans for all sorts of vulnerable people.

What kind of material do you hope to act in next season?

Oh, I think I’ll be happy with whatever the writers throw at me. I never have a character wish-list. More monsters, maybe. Haha

Thank you for joining us! What has been your attitude while preparing for season two of Evil?

I haven’t given it much thought. It will be great to see what’s in the scripts and figure out how to make it play!

img 3256 - Michael Emerson - Leland Townsend on CBS’ “Evil”

Michael Emerson
[Credit: Jean-Claude]