Genius switch always on for CBS’ ‘Scorpion’ cast

SHARE Genius switch always on for CBS’ ‘Scorpion’ cast

BY BILL KEVENEY

Gannett News Service

MANHATTAN BEACH, Calif. — The stars of “Scorpion” aren’t the geniuses they portray in CBS’ new hit drama, yet in a conversation about intellectual brilliance they hit on topics that might be welcome at a Mensa meeting.

Elyes Gabel references “Gaussian algorithms,” a topic he’s discussed with the man he portrays, executive producer and Scorpion Computer Services founder Walter O’Brien. Katharine McPhee, whose non-genius Paige Dineen offers emotional glue for the sky-high-I.Q. team, wonders about the prevalence of left-handedness in recent presidents (Obama, Clinton, George H.W. Bush).

And Robert Patrick, who plays a federal agent handling Walter’s team as it solves high-tech threats, marvels about the Philae probe that landed on a comet hundreds of millions of miles away.

“The comet is only 2.5 miles wide and they put [Philae] on it. Unbelievable,” he says, sitting with five castmates in Walter’s loft apartment set during a break.

The actors, including Eddie Kaye Thomas (brilliant behaviorist Toby), Jadyn Wong (mechanical mastermind Happy) and Ari Stidham (statistical expert Sylvester), have shown showbiz smarts, landing roles on broadcast TV’s second-most-watched new series.

And they like playing geniuses. “Every week, there’s a mechanical aspect that Happy has to figure out,” Wong says. “For me, it’s interesting because I have to Google a lot of what she’s doing.”

Thomas considers each character “a plausible superhero. A few weeks into the show, the question of ‘Could I really do that?’ [went] out the window. I can do all kinds of stuff, because I’m a genius.”

That doesn’t mean they want to be at the apex of I.Q.

“It can be very isolating, which is at the heart of the show,” Thomas says. “What makes the show work is it’s about people who have felt so alone in the world finding each other.”

Patrick, who cracks that he “barely got out of high school,” worries about fueling all that brainpower. “It must be awfully fatiguing to be a genius, because everything you see, you’re going, ‘Oh, I could do that better. They should be doing this. Why aren’t they doing that?’ ”

Gabel interjects, saying a group of geniuses who share an intellectual shorthand can work faster and bring out the best in its people. “We have a lot of scenes where all our geniuses come together. There’s a particular problem and you see us busting out ideas.”

McPhee speaks up for the show’s mortals, such as Paige, who’s valued more for her “emotional intelligence” quotient (E.Q.). “I think most actors are high E.Q. people. I think that’s how actors can study people, by being sensitive to tones and vibes and certain personality traits.”

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