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Taraji P. Henson Dishes On Her "Person Of Interest" Character + The Role She's Salivating To Play

by Tambay A. Obenson
July 1, 2011 5:58 AM
9 Comments
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We've seen a couple of video previews of the upcoming new CBS action/drama series, Person Of Interest, neither of which included any footage of Taraji P. Henson's character - an omission I noted in my previous posts on the series, given that she's the lead female player in it, starring as a police detective. So really, other than what I just said about her being a cop, we haven't heard much else about the character she plays, and thus, don't know what to expect.

The new series was created by wunderkind producer/director J.J. Abrams, maybe one of the busiest men in Hollywood right now, with the myriad of projects he has in hands in, both in film and television. Christopher Nolan’s younger brother, Jonah Nolan, already famous in his own right for co-writing both The Dark Knight and The Prestige, co-developed the project, writing the pilot episode's script as well.

The crime-drama focuses on James Caviezel's character, an ex-CIA agent presumed dead who's aid is enlisted by Michael Emerson's mysterious billionaire, to fight crimes in New York City.

While doing press for Larry Crowne (which opens in theaters today), Taraji revealed details about her involvement in Person Of Interest, in an interview with Collider, as well as a role she says she's salivating to play - all embedded below.

First, on her role as Detective Carter in Person Of Interest:

"I really wasn’t looking to do television. I prefer doing feature films. But, I heard about it and I got the script, which was so top secret that it was intriguing. Jonah Nolan called me and said that he wanted to work with me. He explained that my character wasn’t really written up in the pilot, but he promised me that there was going to be more for my character to do. He seemed so passionate about the project that I read it and I really, really liked the script. I got it, right away. Then, I finally saw the pilot and thought it was amazing. I forgot I was in it. I was watching it and was like, “Oh, that’s right, I am in it.” It’s really, really good."

Ok, so, she's in the pilot episode. We know that now; though I suppose one reason why she's absent from the preview trailers is what she said about her character not being "really written up in the pilot."

... There are lots of stunts... Like every superhero film, there’s always an inspector, a detective or a police officer trying to figure out who the masked man is. Although Jim Caviezel’s character doesn’t wear a costume or a mask, when I first meet him, he’s homeless, so he doesn’t look like how he’s going to look throughout the series. So, when I first meet him, I have this women’s intuition that something is up with the guy, but can’t put my finger on it. I go and try to run his prints, and when I come back, he’s gone. He’s vanished. So, I guess I’m going to spend the series looking for him, trying to figure out who he is and what he’s doing in my town.

So, while he's trying to fight crimes, she'll maybe be an obstacle he'll have to account for as she, the relentless detective, determined to uncover his secret, from one episode to the next, getting closer and closer with each. And then, maybe they eventually pair up on some crimes, as their relationship develops into one akin to that of Batman and Police Commissioner Gordon?

As for what attracted her to the character and series:

It’s not that I was excited about playing a cop, but it was the company that I’m in and the writer. I know he’s going to give me good stuff. I told him that I’m not interested in playing a generic cop, or being a pretty girl with a gun. I said, “You hired me for a reason, so use me.” And, he was like, “Oh, yeah!” I was very specific about that.

That's certainly good to know! She'll actually be involved and not just background fodder.

And lastly, on a role she's dreaming to play:

I would love to do a biopic of a famous singer, like Diana Ross or Donna Summer, or an old jazz story that we haven’t seen before. I would love to do that! I would love to play Diana Ross ‘cause she’s an icon. I’m salivating to do that.

Taraji as Diana Ross... hmmm... trying to picture it.

Given the way news travels across the web, as words get mis- and/or reinterpreted, don't be surprised if this goes from "Taraji P. Henson Dreams Of Playing Diana Ross On Screen," to "Taraji P. Henson To Star In Diana Ross Biopic."

CBS picked up Person Of Interest to debut this fall, Thursdays nights at 9 p.m.

Read the full interview with Collider HERE.

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9 Comments

  • davidpatrick | July 23, 2011 2:56 AMReply

    Diana Ross is a unique beauty. Taraji has that, too. All these other singing-actresses would not be right to play Miss Diana Ross. Beyonce bores me; it's that simple.

    I've always hoped for someone like Taraji would ultimately get the part. . Diana's story is one of the most fascinating of any woman of the twentieth century. She has known and worked with everyone. Her talent is so under-appreciated in the U.S. It will take a poet to tell the story of Diana Ross...

  • Lorenzo | July 5, 2011 2:58 AMReply

    The important part of this discussion to me is that, I hope that a movie is made of Diana Ross that truly reflects her rise to fame and that it was not sugar and isses. She became a star, a superstar, a world star, an American Icon and is recognize in many countries in the world. Her story is an American story that needs to documented and shown to the world.

  • Troy | July 2, 2011 11:05 AMReply

    I can see her playing Diana Ross as well, but I heard it was rumored that Taraji would play Diana in the Florence Ballard biography and that Faith Evans would play Florence Ballad, John Legend or Terrance Howard as Smokey Robinson. They had a poll also of people they felt should play crucial roles in the film. Taraji as well as Nia Long and other actors (seasoned actors) have long complained about the roles in film and television being "given" to these popular singers; "beYAWNcy" and rappers and the actual seasoned actors being overlooked in film. I can see their frustrations, but it's all about the almighty dollar and if they can pull a pop star out of the music and do a featured film, whether it be good or bad for a smaller salary and risk the popularity of that artist to recoup cost to make the film then that's the road they've (Directors, Writers, Producers) have taken and it's sad because true actors/actresses, especially African Americans suffer the most, with the exception of Tyler Perry who employees blacksfor his films.

  • Cole | July 2, 2011 8:09 AMReply

    @ Sandra: I feel your frustration. It seems Black actors have never had the luxury about being particular when it comes to choosing between tv and film roles. Granted there aren't that many whites actors that have that luxury. There are more than blacks of course.

    I wouldn't count out her film career just yet. She seems to be well liked in the Hollywood community and serious about her craft.

    The really good thing is she seems to be working with other top notch talent. The kind of talent that gets big pictures done.

  • sandra | July 2, 2011 3:41 AMReply

    @Cole. You're so right!

    Plus, Taraji seems to have that passion, discipline, professionalism and hunger to last in the business. I'm excited to see which direction she ends up taking with her career.

  • sandra | July 2, 2011 1:22 AMReply

    I'm not excited about this move for her career. It's work, I guess. Network tv has not been kind to sisters and brothers in terms of meaty law enforcement roles. They tend to only exist to support the needs of the main characters (who get all the action and love).

    Her film career was heating up for split-second there. I guess it's back to reality then. The fact that she's signing on for a role with so much uncertainty around it makes me nervous. It sounds like Viola Davis' detective role in the quickly-cancelled 'Traveller'.

  • dcmoviegirl | July 1, 2011 10:07 AMReply

    OMG! Taraji's gonna play Diana Ross!!??



    ...I kid, I kid... ;)

  • Cordell Martin | July 1, 2011 8:41 AMReply

    I think she would be great as Tammi Terrell!!!!!

  • Darkan | July 1, 2011 8:24 AMReply

    I can so see her doing Diana Ross!!!! That would be awesome!

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