While most of Evil focuses on the genuine attempts of Kristen (Katja Herbers), David (Mike Colter), and Ben (Aasif Mandvi) to help others through suspected supernatural events, one of the show's secret weapons is Michael Emerson.
The Lost, Person of Interest, and Arrow veteran has become a fan-favorite for playing both sides of the moral compass, but his stint as the darkly comic Dr. Leland Townsend on Evil is one of the show's most consistent characters, a dark manipulator who is just as at home drinking a nice glass of wine as he is arranging for a disturbing cannibalistic ritual.
During an exclusive interview with CBR ahead of Evil's Season 3 premiere on Paramount+ on June 12, Michael Emerson delved into what attracts him to nefarious characters like the perpetually unsettling but oddly entertaining Leland and how the show is a perfect place for an actor so focused on character.
I think Leland enjoys his work. He seems to have fun doing it. He raises it nearly to the level of an art form, and I think he's the kind of fun person that people like to be around.
I think I love the misdirection of it. I like the way that gentle speech can be weaponized. I like the way that speech is a kind of camouflage.
I guess it's something that I picked up in the theater because I always liked Harold Pinter, David Mamet guys who use language to disguise their true agendas.
It's kind of good because I don't have to be at the set every day... When I do come in, it's usually going to be something interesting, either funny or horrifying, or both at the same time.
To me, that's the kind of ideal job for a character actor. There's nothing better than that, to have an impact with your work but not overstay your welcome with the audience.