411mania Interviews: Gina Torres (Suits)
Posted by Al Norton on 08.16.2012
411's Al Norton sits down for an exclusive interview with Gina Torres to discuss the passion of Firefly fans, her feelings about science fiction, and her current role as Jessica Pearson on the hit USA series Suits.
Gina Torres will always have a large and loyal following among sci-fi and action fans for her roles on Firefly, Angel, Alias and 24 and her work on the big screen in Serenity and the two Matrix sequels, although her resume includes everything from 24 to Bones to Eli Stone to Pushing Daisies to Gossip Girl to Huge. She can currently be seen in the USA hit drama Suits.
Al Norton: What do more fans approach you about, Angel or Firefly?
Gina Torres: Firefly.
Al Norton: Is it even close?
Gina Torres: It's not even close. Firefly, absolutely. Angel was a moment in time, it was a quick pop into that world and I think it's fantastic that people see me and recognize me from that. And there are Whedonites that follow him, and us, everywhere, including into the space desert. But in terms of mentioning just one show, definitely Firefly.
Al Norton: Was getting cast as Jesssica one of those process you hear about that are long and drawn out and frustrating with all the auditions or was it an easy slide in?
Gina Torres: No, they asked me. It was great; I didn't have to audition for Jessica. I had auditioned for a different part for USA for a completely different show. It was down to myself and another woman and she got the part and then I guess about a month or so later…maybe it was a season later…life goes on, I can't remember (laughing)…Apparently the story goes that USA decided they were go to make a pilot for Suits and when they were throwing names around to play Jessica, my name came up because I was still floating around in their brain pan. They said, "let's just give Gina this one."
They did, they made the offer, and they were so sweet. They said, "this is your part. The other part wasn't your part, THIS is your part and we knew the moment we read it." There are no accidents.
Al Norton: What drew you to her when you read the script?
Gina Torres: An ease with her power. Jessica has an ease with power and authority that is something to aspire to and I love playing that. I don't often see women in that position being played with a whole lot of ease, I see them being played with a whole lot of muscle. And some aggression. It was a conscious effort on my part as well, to play her as being so comfortable; I don't want anyone watching this show to think she is where she is by accident. I don't want anyone to think she's uncomfortable with her position. I want them to know she feels more than capable of doing her job every day when she wakes up in the morning.
That's not to say there's not other stuff going on on a personal level. Her humor brings out her comfort. She doesn't scare you (laughing), she makes you feel at ease because you know someone's home and in control. Mama's home, and Mama's got this. That's what I love about Jessica.
Al Norton: Being in control seems like it's something that's very important to Jessica; are we going to see her cut loose a bit at some point down the line? Maybe an episode where she has a little too much to drink?
Gina Torres: Wouldn't that be fun? Wouldn't that be great? I'd love to see that. We just might see that.
Al Norton: The way you and Gabriel Macht laugh together on screen is really remarkable, very much like old friends. Did you know right away how well you were clicking in your scenes?
Gina Torres: We didn't get to spend much time together at all before the cameras started rolling but even at the beginning of our first scene there was an ease of play between us and we felt relaxed. It was one of those things where you go left and you see if they will follow you left and then later they go right and see if you will follow them, and before you know it you're dancing.
Al Norton: I am a huge fan of Suits. Loved the first season and this season has been even better. One of the things I think that has made the show go up a level is that Rick Hoffman has really gotten the chance to shine.
Gina Torres: Yes. Love Rick, so happy that he's getting to use all the colors in his pallet.
Al Norton: And then David Costabile has been fantastic this season as well.
Gina Torres: He's fantastic. We had no idea who was coming, who would be filling those shoes, and we were so happily surprised. David Costabile; first of all, wonderful actor. Second of all, brilliant wackadoodle, If you're ever on set for 18 hours and you're looking at a 3 page scene and it's 3:30 in the morning, he's the guy you want to be working with. He brings it, he keeps it light, he keeps you laughing. He makes everybody's game better.
Al Norton: Do you have a personal passion for sci-fi and action or is it more of a coincidence that you've done a lot of those roles?
Gina Torres: It's a coincidence (laughing). I have acquired a taste for it. Some of it is so bad that I am not just an all around fan of the genre but when it's done well it can be brilliant and really expand our minds to what's possible. I have to say that sci-fi and action have giving me a career. I was just having this conversation with a girlfriend of mine not too long ago but I'm the odd girl out. In my 20's I was never anybody's ingénue. I'm damn near six feet tall so I couldn't start my career being the girlfriend or the wife because I hover. Sci-fi and action gave me a voice, a career, a world where I was not odd. I could fit. I could be a warrior. Nobody questions a warrior who's six feet tall; you want your warrior to be six feet tall. For that I love sci-fi and action and will always be grateful to them.
Al Norton: When most people look at your resume and pull out a short lived series they are likely to mention Firefly but I have to tell you I really enjoyed Huge and thought it deserved a second season.
Gina Torres: Yeah, right? That broke my heart. I have been fortunate enough to have my heart broken twice so far – and I'm knocking on wood – with Firefly and Huge. Both of those shows should have lived much longer than they did and I think that they didn't for the same reasons; I think they were ahead of their time, they didn't find a home that appreciated them or an immediate fan base that would help them survive. Just as I talk about my crew members on Serenity with tenderness and love I do the same for my campers from Huge. I love my kids, I miss my kids. I am so proud of them and the work they did on that show. I wish we had another season or two. It certainly deserved it. It was a show that not just deserved to be on because of the talent that was on it but because of the ground that they were breaking and the issues they were dealing with. It was a brilliantly crafted show. Shame on ABC Family, shame on Fox, that's all I have to say (laughing).
Al Norton: Can you give me a preview of what's to come on Suits?
Gina Torres: You're going to laugh, you're going to cry, you're going to clutch your pearl necklace (laughing). It's an awesome ride.