Smart new drama shows the sting in genius’s tale

Ari Stidham, Robert Patrick, Elyes Gabel, Jadyn Wong, Eddie Kaye Thomas and Katharine McPhee star in Scorpion.
Ari Stidham, Robert Patrick, Elyes Gabel, Jadyn Wong, Eddie Kaye Thomas and Katharine McPhee star in Scorpion. Channel 10

LIKE most people, Robert Patrick had never heard of Walter O'Brien.

The actor, best known for playing T-1000 in Terminator 2, had to Google the man who inspired his new TV project, Scorpion.

The American drama is loosely based on O'Brien's real-life adventures as a computer genius turned security and software expert.

With one of the highest IQs ever recorded, O'Brien started his first company at 13 and is credited with helping US authorities catch the Boston bombers.

"Based on the stories, you think he's going to have a real low EQ (emotional intelligence) compared to his IQ, but he's a lot of fun to be around," Patrick told APN.

"He's a funny guy and he cracks jokes but he doesn't try to intimidate you with his intelligence. He's self-deprecating with his humour. He can make a joke about something and let you know that you're just not thinking at the same level as he is but in a way that it's not condescending and rude. He's a great guy and he seems to have a real appreciation for what we're doing."

Elyes Gabel, Robert Patrick and Katharine McPhee in Scorpion.
Elyes Gabel, Robert Patrick and Katharine McPhee in Scorpion. Channel 10

Patrick plays Agent Cabe Gallo, who first apprehended the child prodigy for hacking into NASA and later worked with him on other top-secret projects.

Last Sunday's pilot saw Gallo and O'Brien reconnect years after a falling out to avert an airport disaster.

"My (on-screen) relationship with Walter is very paternal," he said.

"I am the closest thing to a father he has and I am approaching it from that point of view daily, which means I've got to try to help him develop areas where he's weak and let him fail enough to become a good leader and a better person and allow him to grow within that environment.

"I have to allow him to do his thing but I get frustrated with dealing with such a genius and he gets frustrated with dealing with such a feeble mind."

While in real life O'Brien has thousands of employees working for his software company Scorpion Computer Services, the TV series focuses on three smart but individually dysfunctional sidekicks.

 "They all have developmental issues and drawbacks that we have to help them overcome. It's like herding puppies," Patrick laughed.

"I've got to be respectful and keep them on track. That's where Kat McPhee's character comes in. She gets the mission of trying to help me deal with these guys."

Scorpion airs tonight at 6.30pm on Channel 10

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