“Scorpion” is CBS’ new “fun-cedural,” as executive producer Nick Santora refers to it, that tells the story of genius Walter O’Brien (Elyes Gabel) and the gaggle of fellow misfit geniuses he rounds up to work on high-stakes problems in the world.
The man on whom the show is based, the real-life Walter O’Brien, has the fourth-highest IQ ever measured at 197. He’s heavily involved in the show — so much so that an actual awkward break-up situation he experienced is featured in the pilot.
“One of the opening scenes, Elyes is breaking up with a girl while pulling a piece of paper out of his pocket about how it would go, laying it out as a plan. That’s not fictitious,” O’Brien tells the 2014 summer TV press tour. “Relationships have always been both a learning point and a challenge for me.”
Gabel adds that he spent a lot of time consulting with O’Brien, asking personal questions and trying to figure out how to play the 15-years-younger version of the man before him. O’Brien says he was nervous about the casting process.
“I thought it was going to be a challenge because you’re going to have to find a very intelligent actor … and they’re going to be put into an impossible situation where you’re not supposed to have emotions but you have to have an emotional connection to the audience; you have to be nerdy but you also have to be a leader,” says O’Brien, but reassures the audience that Gabel has been able to pull it off.
“Having Walter around was a blessing. … All I was doing was trying to suck up as much information from him as I could,” says Gabel.
“All these characters have a little bit of different aspects of [Walter],” adds Santora. “The heart of this show is the character and the emotion and the interactions of these incredible six actors that we have.”
“Scorpion” premieres Monday, Sept. 22 at 9 p.m. ET/PT on CBS.