5 Things The Cast of CBS’ Intelligence Want You To Know

Red X Intelligence

CBS’ new series, Intelligence, about high-tech intelligence operative who has a super-computer microchip in his brain, made an appearance at the Television Critics Association (TCA) Winter press tour to talk about the series and what’s coming up next.

On the panel were series stars Josh Holloway, Meghan Ory, and Marg Helgenberger, as well as executive producers Michael Seitzman, Tripp Vinson and Barry Schindel.

Below you will find five highlights from the panel.

1. Gabriel’s Wife, Amelia

The hunt for Gabriel’s wife, Amelia, seemed like it would be one of the major storylines in Intelligence, but instead was wrapped up (or at least it seems that it was) in the second episode. When asked about it Seitzman explained that they wanted to “surprise the audience early on.” He shared, “How often do you get surprised? I remember there’s a show what I loved in the U.K. called “Spooks,” and they introduced a character in the first episode that they a really important character that they killed off in the second episode, and the BBC said they got more mail from that one episode than anything that they’d ever aired. We thought that’s what you should do, surprise the audience, make the audience lean in and worry that anything could happen at any time so they don’t necessarily know what the next story beat’s gonna be. And we also just try to please ourselves. We spend a lot of time going, “What would make this fun? What would make this different? What would make this exciting?” And that’s just where we landed.”

He also added, “There was another reason, too, which, quite honestly, there’s a practical reason, which is that we didn’t want Gabriel to be spending the whole season hunting for his wife, because then it just becomes about that and how could he focus on anything else, so it freed the character up for us in the writing. But that’s also not to say that Amelia’s storyline is necessarily completely wrapped up.”

2. Chemistry

When asked about his chemistry with Meghan Ory, Holloway joked, “It’s very difficult because Meghan is terrible to work with.” To which Ory replied, “Ditto.”

Holloway then went on to share, “It’s quite easy, actually. She’s wonderful to work with. Meghan’s been a pleasure and a joy to work with. We’re lucky to have found her, because it’s very physical, very long hours, and she’s a little warrior, so I have a lot of respect for that.” He added, “She beats me up, tackles me all the time.” He continued, “I hate that, but that’s cool. That’s cool for now. We’ll change that later. It’s a lot of fun. And like I said, it happens kind of naturally, and we both were thrown into this wild ride, and we’re doing the best we can.”

Ory also remarked, “I think, too, in the show we deal with such serious issues, and there’s threats to the world that we’re having to deal with, that having our relationship light and funny and fun in our moments of crisis, I think, is a very human way to deal with stress and something that I think is really fun and a really great part of the show.”

3. Guest Stars

Expect some fun guest stars in the show for upcoming episodes. Seitzman teased, “we’re going to start to bring back all of our old friends from that pilot. We bring back Will Yun Lee who plays Jin Cong in the pilot. We bring back Faye Kingslee who plays Mei Chen. That’s the girl who opens her eyes at the end of the pilot who has her chip in her brain. That’s Monday night, which is going to be really exciting. It’s a really, really fun episode, and we just cast Peter Coyote as Lillian’s father, as Marg Helgenberger’s father, the great Peter Coyote who is really kind of magic and a lot of fun.”

Helgenberger shared some more details about Peter Coyote’s role, “he’s a former CIA director and we have a very complicated relationship, as you can imagine. He basically kind of trained me to be in the position that I’m in. I have a daughter on the show. I have a complicated relationship with her as well, but mainly because her essence is kind of the antithesis of Lillian Strand. She’s an artist, and she’s very hippie and very sweet. And Lillian is very kind of by the book, but it brings out another side of me, a vulnerability, which is always great, for an actor, to have all kinds of textures to play.”

Seitzman also gave some additional details on Jin Cong’s return. He shared, “the character of Jin Cong comes back, and he’s looking for something, and he’s looking for a list, and he’s looking for a list that has people on it who have the gene mutation that Gabriel’s character has in order to be able to function with the chip. And it becomes a moral issue between all the characters, between Cassidy and Nelson — father and son — between Cassidy and Lillian. And they deal with it head on, the moral issue that such a list could exist. How could you have put together a list like this? How do you gather that information, and what are the moral issues underneath it? And we feel that the characters make the right decision at the end of it. Let me put it this way: We think the characters make the right decisions for them at the end of the episode, but they don’t necessarily make the decisions that the audience would make.”


4. Freeze Frame

When asked about the freeze frame sequences in the show, Holloway said that they were getting easier to do, but that it was hard on the extras who have to physically freeze for a while.

He shared, It’s interesting, that part, to watch, and it’s a little spooky. People can really freeze, and they look like wax figures, and you walk around them. And I’m learning how to do it. You have to flow through it as if I can’t avoid you because you’re not really there, so I have to flow through it in a way that I’m not really avoiding your arm or whatever is sticking out.”

Seitzman explained, “We can see things on the monitors when we’re shooting that they can’t see. We shoot on something called a smart stage, which is a little bit more than a green screen. We build a 3D environment that they’re going to be in first, and then on that smart stage, the camera has another camera that shoots at the ceiling and follows these targets, so it knows where it is in that 3D space. And so when we’re at the monitors and we’re watching, we are seeing the synthetic environment that the characters are standing in, so we know what’s going on all around them, but they don’t necessarily know. So we can yell out, “Josh, you are standing in the middle of a Buick. Take two steps to the left.” He might not know. It’s fun, and you have a lot of extras. Sometimes you have a couple-hundred people who are all standing perfectly still, and we support them with green things that hold their arms and legs in place so they can’t move, which gets very tiresome for them, but they’re all sort of enthralled. They have been very enthralled by what it is that they’re doing, because they all can come over and look at the monitor and see, “Oh, my God. I didn’t realize I was standing in the middle of a concert.”

Ory shared that the worst part was when Holloway tries to make them laugh when he’s looking in their faces.

Holloway agreed, “I take my time.”

5. Real Technology

When asked about the technology used on the show, Vinson explained that they are not too far off from what is possible nowadays. He shared, “And having your organic body hooked up directly to the Internet is something that is actually possible now. They’ve done it. Kevin Warwick is the scientist we like to reference. There’s others that have looked into this as well. So it was really surprising, when we dug into this, as to how close we are to this.”

Seitzman added, “We didn’t want to set the show in the future. We didn’t want it to feel like a futuristic show. We went so far as to put Barack Obama’s picture on the wall in the CyberCom in the pilot to make that point. We wanted it to feel like it could happen now. So we looked for technology that was right in its beginning stages. We want it to feel fantastic or fantastical. When you look at it, you go, “Oh, my God.” But we also want it to feel somewhat familiar to the audience and to us so that we didn’t go too far away from what you could do with the smartphone in your pocket or the computer on your desk. We didn’t want it to feel so foreign. So we reference things that people can understand from their own lives. The Cyber-render is the most dramatic we’ve gone, the most advanced, let’s call it, that we’ve gone in terms of sci-fi. But we liken it to a dream. And we do that for a reason. Gabriel says [in the pilot], “Think of it like a dream. Analyze it like a dream.” We try to think of it that way. If a human being had a chip in their brain that they could access the grid and their imagination started to work alongside that technology, what could it create? So we just tried to come up with something that might feel a little bit dreamlike and a little bit different, but that it felt somewhat grounded and organic at the same time. We didn’t want to make “Star Trek.” We really wanted to make, you know, “Earth Trek.” I just made that up.” [Laughter]

BONUS: Josh Holloway’s Email

Turns out Holloway didn’t have an email when he started the show. It has changed now, but he revealed “I’m not the one answering it.” Turns out his wife answers his email.

And when asked if he was tech davy, Holloway answered, “I’m tech savy-ish”, he added “I can pull up Moviefone.” He continued, “I can find out what restaurant is in the area.”

Intelligence airs on Mondays at 10pm on CBS.

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