Scorpion, 101 - Elyes Gabel and Katharine McPhee
Scorpion, 101 Pilot - Walter O'Brien (Elyes Gabel) and Paige Dineen (Katharine McPhee) ©2014 CBS Broadcasting, photo by Sonja Flemming

Monday nights just got more exciting on CBS, with their new action thriller Scorpion, directed by Justin Lin, who also serves as Executive Producer.

Starring British actor Elyes Gabel (Game of Thrones) and singer/actress Katharine McPhee (Smash), the series is based on the real life of Walter O’Brien (hacker name: Scorpion), an Irish genius who for the past seven years has worked with his team to save countless lives by using artificial intelligence to protect US soldiers in Afghanistan.

Gabel portrays O’Brien, who along with his team of misfits helps Homeland Security to solve high-tech threats to the nation.

McPhee plays Paige Dinsen, a waitress and mother of a gifted son, who meets the gang during their first mission and joins them as a liaison between the nerdy masterminds and the world they must function in.

Elyes and Katharine came to the TV Critics tour to talk about their new series, which premieres on September 22nd, 2014.

Elyes, you are playing a genius, can you talk a little about your process in informing your character?

Scorpion, 101 - Elyes Gabel
Scorpion, 101 Pilot – Walter O’Brien (Elyes Gabel) ©2014 CBS Broadcasting, photo by Robert Voets

Elyes: I’d start by talking [to] the real?life version of my [character], Walter O’Brien.

Having Walter around was a blessing. And the fact that he was able to spend this much time with me kind of edified me, in terms of my preparation.

All I was doing was trying to suck up as much information from him as I could.

I’m pretty sure neither American Idol nor Smash prepared you for the stunts you do in this series. In the pilot you hang from a moving car.

Scorpion, 101 - Katharine McPhee
Scorpion, 101 Pilot – Paige Dineen (Katharine McPhee) ©2014 CBS Broadcasting, photo by Sonja Flemming

Katharine: Yeah, that would be an accurate statement. That day when I showed up on set I looked at Elyes and I was like, ‘I literally have no idea what I’m doing.’

Usually I walk in with a really big ego, and I say just say, ‘Don’t tell me what to do.’ (she laughs) I’m so kidding. I just was really open to whatever suggestions that he (Justin Lin) had, because I’ve just never done something like that before.

Neither have you.

Scorpion, 101 - Elyes Gabel and Robert Patrick
Scorpion, 101 Pilot – Walter O’Brien (Elyes Gabel) and Cabe Gallo (Robert Patrick) ©2014 CBS Broadcasting, photo by Sonja Flemming

Elyes: Yeah. No. I mean, it’s great relying on somebody who’s got a proven history, but also who is very involved in creating some kind of a humanity to it. That was one of the attractions of working with Justin.

If you like the big high?octane massive action sequences that we do, they’re massive and they’re bold, then you’re going to watch it, because it’s the best that it can be for this kind of a topic.

But if you also like communicating the humanity to deal with why we’re doing this, the humans, the interaction, we did a lot of work on making sure that every little bit of interaction with each character was on point when we were trying to say what we were trying to say with it.

Scorpion, 101 - Elyes Gabel and Katharine McPhee
Scorpion, 101 Pilot – Walter O’Brien (Elyes Gabel) and Paige Dineen (Katharine McPhee) ©2014 CBS Broadcasting, photo by Sonja Flemming

Katharine:  Yeah. There were so many little bits and pieces, I didn’t realize. And had this been an actual movie, we would have been shooting this one sequence for  two weeks, and we only had two days.

I just really had to focus myself every time before we did a take, because it’s emotionally draining, with something that’s so quick.

You don’t want it to feel disconnected to what you just shot three hours ago.

I’m just curious. Have they given you an indication of how much you’ll be involved in the physical action?

Katharine: I’m pretty sure that Paige is going to be thrown into [the deep end].

Elyes: But she can swim.

Katharine: Yes, I can swim. Varsity swimmer freshman year of high school. I’m ready to go!

Scorpion - Robert Patrick, Jadyn Wong, Eddie Kaye Thomas, Elyes Gabel, Ari Stidham, Katharine McPhee
Scorpion – Eddie Kaye Thomas as Toby Curtis, Ari Stidham as Sylvest]er Dodd, Jadyn Wong as Happy Quinn, Robert Patrick as Cabe Gallo, Katharine McPhee as Paige Dineen, Elyes Gabel as Walter O’Brien ©2014 CBS Broadcasting, photo by Robert Voets