PLENTY OF STING IN SCORPION TALE
SCORPION boldly proclaims at the beginning of each episode it’s “inspired by” the real-life story of hacker genius Walter O’Brien.
An executive producer of the show, he claims an IQ of 197 – the fourth highest ever recorded and well above Albert Einstein’s 165. At 13, he supposedly hacked into NASA’s computers, and instead of going to jail, made a deal with Homeland Security agents, to expose flaws in computer security systems.
Today, O’Brien has a team of geniuses – just like on the show – working with him in real-life company Scorpion Computer Services, for which the TV show is one giant ad.
But even Elyes Gabel (right), who plays O’Brien in the show, admits he has some concerns over the veracity of the story. To find his character he had to push those doubts aside and accept O’Brien’s story as gospel.
“That meant everything he was saying I believe rather than questioning,” Gabel says. “That becomes a very dangerous, treacherous area if you don’t really fully commit or believe in what somebody is saying. Once I got rid of that, the balance became: ‘How do I make this guy? How do I create vulnerability in a character?’”
In reality, many of O’Brien’s claims don’t stack up. He says he didn’t keep the paperwork showing he scored 197 on an IQ test in primary school – but even if it were true, scores are scaled with age, meaning a high score as a child doesn’t reflect his intelligence as an adult. He hasn’t taken an official Mensa-approved test since.
There’s also no evidence of the NASA hack and O’Brien can’t provide further details claiming he signed a non-disclosure agreement. And, of course, Homeland Security was formed as a result of the attack on the Twin Towers and didn’t exist when he was 13.
Despite this, O’Brien is undoubtedly a very smart individual who has been involved in the creation of some very innovative technologies which have been adopted by the US government and military. It’s just there may have been a little myth-making along the way.
But Robert Patrick, who plays Agent Cabe Gallo, says the myth on the show plays an important role.
“It sort of answers a certain kind of need that we have [as] human beings,” he says. “We’re always looking for someone who has the answer in whatever way, you know, in our life that we might need help. And Walter represents that to a certain degree.” SCORPION SUNDAY, 6.30PM, TEN