Sarah Shahi is having the time of her life on Person of Interest, which returns for a third season 9 p.m. Tuesday on CBS. As Shaw, a former government assassin now working with the show’s team of good-guy vigilantes, Shahi gets to be a superhero every day: chasing bad guys, doing fight scenes, shooting guns and rappelling off of buildings. It’s fun, the native North Texan says, to pretend to be that cool. “Shaw is like the lovechild of Jason Bourne and Catwoman,” she says.
Shahi, who was born and raised in Euless, attended Southern Methodist University and is a former Miss Fort Worth USA (1997). She gave acting a try after Robert Altman, the director, told her she’d be good at it. Before this gig, she starred for two seasons on USA’s Fairly Legal.
1. Come clean. Does any of Shaw’s blunt personality exist in you?
There definitely is some Shaw in me. That’s the only way I can access the character, to find parts of my own personality that resemble that of the character. But my bedside manners are more graceful than hers, unless you hand me a couple of tequilas.
2. Do you go home with aches and pains from the physical demands of the show?
I’ve come home with cuts and bruises that were makeup effects. My son, who’s 4, was really upset by it. But I would love to have more cuts and bruises of the real kind, not the makeup kind, because they’re war wounds to me, and I’m proud of the scars when I get them.
3. When you do a show like this, with a Big Brother-is-watching element, do you start noticing all the cameras and recording devices that are ever-present in our daily lives?
Sometimes. But maybe I live in a bubble, because I choose not to live a paranoid life. My husband, on the other hand, is the ultimate conspiracy theorist. I’m the opposite just out of necessity.
4. Did you immerse yourself in a world of guns, bombs and all things tactical in the name of research?
I had a crash course in that stuff. Two weeks, eight hours a day, nothing but guns, knives, military training and stunt choreography. It was pretty intense. When I talk about this to my husband and to my guy friends, they’re all very envious of what I got to do, because it’s exactly what they want to do.
5. As a matter of fact, it seems plausible that the Shaw role easily could have gone to a tough-guy actor instead of a female. Was that ever a possibility?
It would make for a better story if I said that they wanted to cast a male until they saw me. But I think they had me in mind all along. But I’m absolutely OK with that. I mean, I never wanted to be the Bond Girl anyway. I always wanted to be Bond.
— David Martindale, Special to the Star-Telegram