One of the most fascinating characters on Person of Interest is the erudite crime boss, Elias, and he takes center stage in tonight's gut-wrenching episode. We talked to actor Enrico Colantoni, and he told us what Elias has been doing since he was busted out of prison. Minor spoilers ahead...
We've seen tonight's new Person of Interest episode, and it's a total thrill-ride, in which we learn a lot about Elias' backstory and also get some fantastic moments between Root and Shaw. We were lucky enough to talk to Colantoni on the phone, and he gave us the inside scoop on how Elias has been doing since Carter saved his life.
So what's been going on with Elias since he got out of prison? We've seen him playing chess and talking on the subway, but is he still a crime boss or is he retired?
[He was running his] business from prison, and then when HR sort of got huge and powerful and started pushing him out, Carter rescued him. And of course, he returns the favor, defending Carter's memory by killing [Simmons]. So Elias is always around, he's forever present — he's omnipresent, let's say.
He's been running [his business] in the wings. His business was viable, and he was making money, and deals were being made. He was still hiding — no-one really knew where he was. Technically, he was still on the run, because he should have been in prison.
Any fan of the show loves that character [of Elias]. Because we don't see him that often... he's got a delicious sense of humor and yet he's so vicious. To find out more and more about these characters, including [his second in command] Scarface [in tonight's episode], it just makes them more endearing. We're going to sympathize with [Elias] even more. He's going to be even more interesting.
One of the most interesting Elias moments this past year is when he meets with Finch and says he knows something important has changed. How curious is Elias about the change of the global status quo?
I don't think he's too concerned about it. I think he's very happy just operating at a city level, at an underground level. He doesn't need to know what's going on outside of that, unless it affects his business. And once he found out that things are changing, maybe even Finch didn't realize that change was going to be in [Elias]' own backyard.
Do you worry that Elias has gotten too friendly with the Machine Gang? He's almost like one of the crew in some ways. Are you glad to have some moments in tonight's episode where Elias reminds us that he's still dangerous and not ready to play by Finch's rules?
He's much more three-dimensional in this episode.
In this episode, we get a lot more about Elias' childhood and where he came from. Did that fit with what you already thought about the character?
I had no idea. I don't know anything about this guy. I only read what they tell me. They just character for him. It's so wonderful. You just get little pieces of him every time. He's just so much fun to play.
But do you feel like people can have more sympathy for him, after they learn about his past?
Absolutely. Especially in this episode [where he's pursued by the rival gangster Dominic].
Do you think Dominic and Elias could have been friends? They seem like they have so much in common.
I think they came from the same foster home, the same orphanage. They're absolutely cut from the same cloth.
When we first meet Elias, he's pretending to be a schoolteacher. Do you think part of him just wishes he could be a teacher?
No. [That was just something he was putting on.] He's never that simple. There's always the bigger picture for Elias. I'm sure he misses hiding behind things like that, and not being exposed the way he is now.