It was great to speak to PJ on the phone. He has so much
enthusiasm. With good reason, as you'll learn. He's doing
really well right now with regards to both his acting career
and his personal life. We mostly spoke about his new show
"Intelligence" on CBS.
Here is the our interview. I hope you
If the audio is not streaming well, please right-click on
this link and save it to your computer. It should work
better that way! It's only about 15 minutes long.
1. How did the role in "Intelligence" come about for you?
I literally finished shooting "The Wolf of Wall Street."
I came back to the yearly pilot season. You know, you go
into the mix. I auditioned for Michael Seitzman and Tripp
Vinson, so it was just from that. I did that one audition
and the stars aligned. I loved it. Actually, coming back
from "Wolf," I consciously wanted to do a drama, if that was
at all possible, and it worked out. We're so excited 'cause
it just came in today that, apparently, it's the No. 1 most
viewed new show in America. I'm like, "What?" "What?" Oh, my
God, yeah, we're so excited. I'm so proud to be a part of
that. That's just so wild. Everyone's over the moon, because
everyone works so hard. We're sort of in a lucky position
where we kind of came later, so you have no idea. You're
just kind of playing your gut, hoping that when you show up
to work every day, that everyone's gonna like it, but it's
kind of like doing a movie, where you're doing a show that
comes out later. We're so excited. I can't wait for people
to start seeing the new episodes, 'cause in pilots, you've
got to explain so much, and there's so much explanation,
like, "Who are you meaning? and "What's going on?" "What's
the premise?" Now, we can get right to it, which is awesome.
2. Based on the first episode, I assume that your
character, who is good at computers, will be replacing the
other computer nerd guy that was revealed to be the traitor?
Good for you. Good for you. Yes. [Laughs] That's it. So,
obviously, in the first episode, I run things. I did it, and
sold my dad out, and I sold my country out, and I gave this
chip over to the Chinese, but I was sort of guilty by
circumstance, because Josh Holloway's character, who has a
computer chip in his brain, is the kind of guy who whatever
the world's worst problems are and the CIA can't solve or
the FBI, he and the CyberCom division are the final
back-stop. Everyone thinks I sold him out, but he's really
like a brother to me, and I love him as much as... He's got
my back, and I've got his. Now, I am a computer genius, but
there is some jealousy there, because anything that I can do
on a computer, Josh can do it like 1.6 billion times faster,
so that's a little annoying for me. It's a little annoying
that he's so darn handsome, and I'm not as handsome, so he's
getting all the ladies. And it doesn't make me feel super
that my dad dotes on him a lot, so there's a lot of sibling
rivalry there, if you will.
3. In real life, are you good with computers?
No. Not like these guys. I'm not even remotely close to
these guys, but, yeah, I will use a computer. My dad
actually worked for IBM when I was growing up, so we're
definitely tech-forward, but not tech-elite, if you will.
4. What's it like playing John Billingsley's son?
He's great. You know, John Billingsley is such a
phenomenal actor, and we both have theater backgrounds, so
that's awesome. And he's just always in it, and that is just
so helpful. You know, when you're working with someone like
that, and he makes awesome choices, which is amazing. He's a
great guy to mix it up with, but I feel like all the other
actors are just... We have a great cast and there's a lot of
seasoned veterans, so we're really... It's a nice way to go
to work every day. I'm not gonna lie to you.
5. Have you seen John in other roles, like Enterprise or
Yeah. No, he's awesome. I always knew John. It's funny. I
say to myself, "I'm probably gonna be a guy like that in a
couple more years." Because I'm a character actor, and he's
a character actor, and the fact that they literally thought
that I could play his son is like perfect.
6. What else can you tell us about this season's episodes
and your role in them?
The cool thing is and what I liked about the part is they
let me riff a little bit to be a little funny, but what I
love about it is that I'm not just a guy who sits behind a
computer. I get to go out in the field. It's kind of
exciting, but it's usually Josh and Meghan or other
characters who are out there. Maybe I'm gonna punch someone
or shoot a gun, or I'll try to go fight this crazy infection
that's going around the country, or try to find a nuclear
bomb or things like that. Literally, whatever the world's
problems are, we go out to try and stop it. That's what's
awesome and sort of like James Bond movie meets "Bourne
Identity" meets "Homeland" and that's what's so fun about
7. Are we going to learn more about your character's
personal life this season?
You'll learn a little more, but I mean, really now, it's
a lot about getting down to the task of saving the world.
That's really what it is, and you sort of get slices and
pieces of everyone's family life, and who they're related
to, and if they have children, and all that kind of stuff.
As the season continues to unfold and, hopefully, there's
more seasons, you will be able to peel it back. This year we
always talked about, "Will we meet my mother and John
Billingsley's wife?" I was like, "Is that gonna happen this
year? "When do we do that?" But that's not this year. It's
gonna happen. It's gonna happen, so I can't wait for that.
8. I see that Lance Reddick joins the cast?
Oh, my God. That man! That man is awesome, and the way he
talks is awesome, and he has such a presence. Oh, my God. If
I ever had someone want to read my biography, I'd want that
man to read, read, read my biography out loud. He's awesome.
Oh, my God. I just got done telling him. It's funny 'cause
you're talking to him, and he's such a sweet, lovely man,
and when they say "Action," there's some kind of contortion
thing and the room just sort of gets thicker and heavier,
and it's just like he... everyone just sort of zones in on
him. He's an intense, powerful actor and "Cut!" This lovely
man has just returned, and I'm like, "What?" "Where did?"
"Who are you?" "Who are you?" He should be on every show,
'cause he's a stud. He makes great choices. He's awesome.
He's such a presence. We're happy to have him, believe me.
We get it.
9. And I see that Peter Coyote is in some of the
Peter Coyote does an episode. This cast is just like
great. We're really blessed, and that's like another stud
that comes on our show and mixes it up with us. So, I mean,
we're lucky. We're really lucky.
10. Any other good guest stars that appear?
It's funny that you know all these people. I'm like, "Who
am I allowed to say? Who am I not allowed to say?" Lance is
our really nice one, and I can't believe you already know
about Peter Coyote, 'cause that man. Yeah, he comes on the
show. Yeah, those are our two studs that come on, and my
God, do they mix it up. I can't wait 'till you see how they
portray themselves and what we chose for their journeys to
be. It's awesome! It's really awesome.
11. Is there anybody else you can mention?
I'm trying to think. I usually mix it up with my team.
Oh, the guy from "Ferris Bueller's Day Off." The guy, his
buddy growing up. Anyway, he's on the show. He was amazing.
12. Anything else about the show that you'd like to tell
I just can't wait for everyone to keep seeing the show,
and all these problems and developments we have to deal
with. It shows you how much is out there and actually some
of the things that our government has to deal with. Every
episode you tune in is... The coolest part about the show is
nothing is what it seems. Like you might think it's that
guy, but it's someone else. Just like in the pilot, you
thought I was a bad guy. I'm really gonna be a part of the
team and help everybody out.
13. What other projects do you have coming up?
"The Wolf of Wall Street" came out Christmas Day directed
by Martin Scorsese, and Leonardo DiCaprio stars in it with
Jean Dujardin and Matthew McConaughey and Jonah Hill and Rob
Reiner. It was like the top of the mountain experience
working on that movie. It's a nice time here for PJ, and I
just had a little baby girl, so I'm knocking on wood here at
the Byrne house. It's a nice time. It's a really nice time.
I just had to run upstairs 'cause I can hear the baby
crying, so I'm sure it's feeding time, so I'm going to go
help my wife out. We're very lucky. She's a cool baby, and
we love her a lot.
14. Is "The Wolf of Wall Street" doing well?
Yeah, it's doing great. The numbers are great. The
critics like it. You know, it was nominated for a Golden
Globe award and Leo was nominated for Best Actor. It just
got a lot of SAG nominations for Martin Scorsese for Best
Director, and I think Martin Scorsese got best director for
the DGA. So like everything is teeing up very nicely.
Hopefully, Leo will get his Oscar, and it'll win Best
Picture, and Martin will get another Oscar.
15. What role do you play in that?
I play the role of a guy by the name of Nicky Koskoff,
who they call Rugrat, because I wear the world's worst
toupee in the history of toupees. I grew up with Leo's
character, and we're in the finance world, and we screw over
a lot of people and take their money unfortunately. This
movie is completely different from my "Intelligence"
character. Shooting that movie you really have to leave your
morals and ethics at the door, so the moment they say,
"Action," you're not yourself at all. I'm having kind of a
blast with the Nelson character. This is the first time I
get to be the guy at home with no experience being a
superagent, if you will. So, that's why I kind of love this.
So I get to be myself. You want to try to be yourself in a
world where you get to hang guns and get in fights. It's
really fun. And you're not trained to do it. Like Josh
Holloway's character is trained to be a superagent. I was
trained to work on a computer and now I have a gun in my
hand. Like that to me is interesting and funny and like
16. Do you have any other stuff coming out that we should
There's another movie called "Walk of Shame." I also do a
cartoon called "The Legend of Korra" on Nickelodeon, so
there's a ton of new episodes coming out, and they're some
of the best fans in the world, and it runs all ages. Watch
it, 'cause it's great. There's no age thing. The guys that
created it are really smart, and between the time I recorded
it and they showed it, it's like 3 years, 'cause they're
really making art on the screen. It's really beautiful to
even look at. It's gorgeous. For the third season they
haven't given an airdate, so we're waiting for it to start.
We just finished our second season, and it did really well.
People seem to love it. I know there's 4 seasons right now,
so that's what I can tell you.
17. What type of role would you like to play that you
I could probably do a war movie. If I ever get a chance
to do that, I would love to do some version of a war movie.
I don't know what the role would be per se. I've been lucky
enough to play lovely people, horrible people, terrible
lawyers, great doctors, horrible doctors, so I would love to
be a soldier in some fashion. That would be kind of
interesting to me. And a leading man. They don't ever let me
play a leading man, so what the hell. Why not say that?
18. Besides acting, are you interested in directing or
One day, obviously, I would love to maybe direct a couple
of episodes of "Intelligence." I went to grad school, and we
had a great bunch of people in my class that have come out
and are working in other stuff. We sort of love helping each
other prepare for scenes, or run scenes, so I've directed
stuff for funnier guys, so I guess at some point I'll just
sort of... That's a transition just to be able to do that
solely, but to be able to do both. My brain does enjoy doing
19. Any special hidden talents?
I grew up in New Jersey where we call tomato sauce gravy.
I make really good meatballs and gravy, but it's gravy
that's red with tomatoes. We make Sunday dinners. I grow
tomatoes in the backyard -- the whole thing. There's nothing
more organic than stepping outside your door and picking a
tomato from your backyard. I mean, that's the closest, most
organic thing that's going down.
20. What TV shows do you like to watch for fun?
I like to watch some old shows, too. I love "M*A*S*H"
'cause you're dealing with such heavy issues yet they find
some lightheartedness in the moment, but then you can also
go into some really heavy, heavy dark places. I guess I
always loved and still do, if I can see it, "Cheers." I
thought that show was such a well-oiled machine. It's just
such a special thing to watch, or the Seinfelds of the
world, those guys. Or like old SNLs. I like that of stuff,
too. I like "Homeland," and that's sort of what our show is
like, too, so that's sort of what drove me to the show.
16. Last question, do you have anything to say to your
fans or fans of "Intelligence"?
Yeah. I will speak for the entire cast and crew. From
working on the show, I can't tell you how blessed we are to
have such a great cast and crew of like lovely people who
are classy and professionals. We are so over the moon that
all these people tuned in and that people are saying such
great things about it, because we were just on a little
stage over at Disney. We had no idea what we were making. We
were just putting all our hearts into it, and we were just
hoping that people like it, and it turned out that they
have. So, we love you for loving the show, and they're
already showing their love, and we give you a big hug back.
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