Gina Torres is an actress I admire greatly. From Firefly and its spin-off movie, Serenity, to Alias, 24, and Angel, she has appeared in a number of projects that I absolutely love. In each, she has been fantastic, showing range and wit, perfectly capturing the character that she plays. So to get to speak with her is a dream come true.
Gina’s current project is starring in USA’s Suits. In the show, a legal drama focusing more on characters that the cases, Gina plays Jessica Pearson, the senior partner of the law firm. For much of season one, her character is kept in the dark about a startling secret: a lawyer at her firm does not have a law degree. The man keeping that secret from her is one of her closest confidantes, and kind of even a protege.
The season two premiere of Suits, which airs this Thursday, is called “She Knows,” a sure sign that Jessica is now clued into the deception taking place right under her nose. As played by Torres, this is a chilling realization, and as a loyal viewer, I am frightened on behalf of the characters toward whom her anger will be directed. Jessica evokes authority, and it is time for that authority to assert control of the situation.
This is the context as the conversation with the stunning Gina Torres begins; having already seen the premiere episode and her fantastic performance in it. Like her character, Torres is composed and confident, raising the cool factor of the room considerably just by entering. She is conversational and polite. But no one questions her gravitas, and now more than ever, there is a sense of awe among those gathered.
Gina is very quick to speak about Jessica’s reaction to the secret Mike and Harvey have been keeping from her. She says that the firm is Jessica’s baby, and what the men have done is tantamount to threatening a child, which will definitely bring out a mothering instinct within her. Add to that, Jessica trusts Harvey deeply, and his lies will be a big blow to her.
Unluckily for Jessica, Mike is only one concern. The absent partner, Hardman, is returning to the fold, forcing her to share the power and responsibility of her position. She can’t ignore or override him, and has to learn how to get along. Gina’s reaction to this development is a quick and assertive, “Son of a bitch!” But beyond that, she will only say, “I really can’t tell you much about that. But nice try.”
Of course, that doesn’t stop the line of questioning. Hardman is way too juicy a plot twist to ignore. Gina admits that “Everything we come to learn about Hardman’s disappearance and his return is layered.” She seems very pleased with the ambiguity, and the fun it will be to play with characters that are neither good nor bad, but fall somewhere on a spectrum. Then, after being pressed for more details, she apologetically says, “I’m not so much being coy as I honestly don’t know.” There’s only so much information an actor can give into a season that is still being written!
Torres readily admits that Jessica was large and in charge in season one, but relishes that during season two, we will begin to see chinks in her armor. She has battle scars, and she didn’t rise to her position without burying a few bodies along the way. Fans of the show will begin to get some insight into who Jessica is, and what has made her that way, a wonderful opportunity for the actress.
What of Jessica’s personal life? Gina laughs, saying that Jessica is too tense, and needs to get some. The actress seems jokingly frustrated that Jessica’s role is confined to the office, and hopes that we will see a little bit more of her personal persona before long. Maybe even with a romantic partner down the road?
Someone asks Gina which other character on the series she would love to play. This is a great question, requiring a bit of introspection. But true to character, Gina has an answer. She’d like to be Donna, having always wanted to portray a cool version of James Bond’s Money Penny, which is exactly how she sees Harvey’s secretary. It’s hard to imagine Gina in such a subservient role after playing Jessica, but it would be a neat thing to see, and she’s surely a talented enough actress to pull it off!
Asked what influence Jessica has had, Gina jokes that she likes to think her character taught Harvey how to dress so well! Seriously, though, she hopes that she inspires young women. After all, how many African-American women are seen running law offices on television? Her character, like the actress, truly is someone to look up to.
Thank you Gina Torres for talking with us!