What to Watch

What to Watch With Gina Torres, Pearson and Suits Star

The actress, who executive produces and stars in the USA network spinoff about lawyer Jessica Pearson, tells Rotten Tomatoes what she's been watching recently.

by | July 17, 2019 | Comments

Gina Torres at the after-party for HBO Emmy Awards After-Party - Part 2, Pacific Design Center, Los Angeles, CA September 17, 2018. Photo By: Priscilla Grant/Everett Collection

(Photo by Priscilla Grant/Everett Collection)

While USA’s legal drama Suits is heading into its ninth and final season, the story isn’t over for Jessica Pearson (Gina Torres), who is embarking on a new adventure on the spin-off series Pearson. After being disbarred, the former powerhouse lawyer has headed to Chicago and becomes involved with politics in the Windy City. Once she’s appointed as the mayor’s right-hand fixer, she becomes embroiled in the contentious (and occasionally crooked) scene.

Torres, who is also an executive producer on the new series, spoke to Rotten Tomatoes about bringing the show she envisioned to life, getting to see new sides of a character she’s played for many years, and what she’s currently watching.


What’s appointment viewing for you?

THE VIEW - SUNNY HOSTIN, JOY BEHAR, WHOOPI GOLDBERG, MEGHAN MCCAIN, ABBY HUNTSMAN, ABC Television Network. (ABC/Heidi Gutman)

(Photo by ABC/Heidi Gutman)

Oh, God! [I’m never home] and able to sit down in front of anything. The closest thing to appointment viewing I gotta say is … The View. I love The View! I’ll try to tape it if I know somebody wonderful is on. I love to watch those ladies debate, because they’re all smart and they all have a point of view. They’re all strong women with a point of view, and not just political but social. They cover such a wide ground and they keep it fun. They’ve got a great panel now. They’re all well-suited and interesting.


What’s in your streaming queue?

Streaming is The Handmaid’s Tale, The Crown — when that comes back. It’s been a while, right? I miss them! I started watching something the other day. It’s hard to get consistent with it. I do love Outlander. That’s on there. But, I’m like a season and a half behind. It took me so long to get out of France!


What shows are on your DVR?

On my DVR is Yellowstone. I’m a Kevin Costner super-fan. I’ve just loved him since Field of Dreams. I would watch anything and everything and he’s been in. The thing about being an actor and you’re blessed with a long career is that you can see the arc of the man and the roles that they choose and the things that they put into place, and he’s been producing content for quite some time now. You can just see that this is something so close to his heart; the topics that he’s bringing up — the indigenous people and reservation life — and he’s bringing it up in such a way that you never see. He’s not an immediately likable character on the show, which I also love just in terms of the trajectory of an actor and what they choose to do in the course of their lives. It’s smart, intelligent storytelling with a fantastic cast and interesting characters.

I also have a bunch of old movies that if I see Turner Classic Movies is going to air way too late I’ll just record. “Oh, NetworkI haven’t seen that in forever!” “The China Syndrome, I love that!” “Yes, love Barbara Stanwyck!” All of those things are on [my DVR too].


What’s coming soon that you can’t wait for?

Pearson!


PEARSON -- Pictured: Gina Torres as Jessica Pearson -- (Photo by: Isabella Vosmikova/USA Network)

(Photo by Isabella Vosmikova/USA Network)

Jean Bentley for Rotten Tomatoes: When you left Suits you probably didn’t know that you were going to revisit Jessica Pearson on her very own series.

Torres: No, absolutely not. That was not part of the plan.

It seems that you were the driving force behind getting this series made. Why it was so important to you?

I needed a job! So, that’s a pretty strong driving force. You never really know how things are going to come together. I was already in the process of putting my foot into the producer pool and looking to partner with writers and create original content and put shows on the air that not only spoke to me but I believed would speak to people that were feeling underrepresented in telling stories that were reflective of the world that I live in. Really the 2016 election just changed everything. I was sitting there watching real drama play out, a really interesting cast of characters doing their thing day in and day out. I started thinking about Jessica, and I started thinking about Jessica in terms of politics and the similarities of her characteristics that were in line with those that I was watching. From an outsider’s perspective, she can be kind of shady . She can be a little manipulative and she’s incredibly powerful. She knows where a lot of bodies are buried, and she can at any given moment decide to use her powers for good — or evil. But she’s always chosen good.

When we last saw her, that was her choice. She was leaving corporate life and she wanted to get back to what was important to her, and I thought, well, what better way to do that than in the political arena, to bring all her skill sets to the political world? Because the last time we saw her, she was on her way to Chicago to be reunited with Jeff [D.B. Woodside]. That’s organically where this story leads us. I told the right people and they were super interested in this dynamic as well, and in the narrative, and we all got to work to make it happen.

What new sides of Jessica will we be able to see on the show that we didn’t really get to see on Suits?

We got to see very little of Jessica’s personal life and all the repercussions of the choices that she’s made. She was always so very busy saving the firm or saving somebody attached to the firm. We’re going to get to see a fully realized woman which I’m very, very excited about. She gets a family now — a family that she didn’t know she had and a family that doesn’t necessarily like her very much all the time, and how that shakes her up a little bit. Navigating the new world of the mayor’s office, of city hall. Whether or not her past will actually serve her for the better or whether it’s an impediment. She’s not coming in clean. So, there’s that — and she’s working alongside the woman who took her license. We also get into her relationship with Jeff, so there’s a lot of heart and soul and vulnerability to this Jessica.


PEARSON -- "The Alderman" Episode 101 -- Pictured: Gina Torres as Jessica Pearson -- (Photo by: Scott Everett White/USA Network)

(Photo by Scott Everett White/USA Network)

What’s something about producing that has surprised you or been difficult to juggle alongside starring in the show?

Fortunately, a lot of the pre-production is where I get to roll up my sleeves and really get in there. It’s storylines and casting and making sure that our vision of the show stays as true and consistent throughout the season, and to find ways of pushing the envelope. That’s fun and that’s exciting and I love that.

The challenges of it are being new to this area, being new as an executive producer, and remembering that I actually have a say. That I can speak up and request or question or participate and add to the conversation things that may not have been heard if I were just an actress. Just remembering that you have that power is a new skill set. That’s a new muscle! And then learning how to make your voice heard in such a way that’s not defensive or alienating or none of it’s an argument. We’re all just sharing. I think just as actors we’re collaborative. You just have to remember that you have the power!

Yeah! You have the power and you know you have the competence, you know you have the skills. You just have to be able to do it.

Right! But that’s the thing — I’ve been doing it for so long you kind of forget how much you know. You’re in the room and you’re going, “Wait, I think it would be better if…” I have this conversation with people all the time — [as an actor] you’re so concerned about what the next job is going to be that it’s hard to lift your head up and see how far you’ve come. When you take stock of certainly all of my experience and all of the people that I’ve gotten to work with and all of the people that I’ve gotten to learn from, it’s all in there. It’s time to put it to use.

Pearson premieres on the same night as the final season of Suits. Do you feel bittersweet about that show ending? Jessica Pearson is alive and well and thriving in Chicago.

Well, I’m not saying goodbye to Jessica at all. I’m saying, “Hey girl, hey!” That’s a good feeling. It’s bittersweet. It was because of Suits I get to have Jessica and all her fabulousness forever more. I got to meet some incredible dear, dear people. Also, from a completely objective perspective, that was a really good run, and a rare one. I mean, we all know a lot of things don’t last that long at all, and so to have lightning strike in such a beautiful way is great. So, everybody, you can pat yourselves on the back and say job well done.

Pearson premieres Wednesday, July 17 at 10 p.m. on USA.


Like this? Subscribe to our newsletter and get more features, news, and guides in your inbox every week.

Tag Cloud

canceled travel mutant Spectrum Originals ratings ITV asian-american Ovation spinoff Podcast Amazon Studios book Hallmark versus Crackle Mudbound Pop TV quibi TBS Television Critics Association elevated horror 2020 slashers binge Disney+ Disney Plus SundanceTV Comedy Interview police drama Classic Film festival See It Skip It Calendar Comic Book social media breaking bad Heroines worst movies animated joker FOX Mindy Kaling werewolf Western Ghostbusters ABC documentary TV Land Lifetime Christmas movies renewed TV shows Certified Fresh Summer Valentine's Day The Purge political drama National Geographic Teen critics Showtime 2018 spain Amazon Prime Logo revenge Black History Month adaptation Columbia Pictures Acorn TV historical drama 007 21st Century Fox Mary poppins GoT Tubi Pixar series nature Adult Swim cops TV rotten movies we love blockbuster Hulu The Academy A24 Cartoon Network Academy Awards Marathons Nickelodeon crossover christmas movies History BBC America jamie lee curtis Family FX on Hulu composers game of thrones independent Set visit crime drama Disney Channel festivals NBC Writers Guild of America Awards Tour GIFs 71st Emmy Awards Winners San Diego Comic-Con OWN Sci-Fi dark New York Comic Con LGBTQ Baby Yoda Funimation Kids & Family Dark Horse Comics screen actors guild obituary Disney Plus psychological thriller free movies cars zombies ABC Family Sneak Peek Mary Poppins Returns Rom-Com 20th Century Fox justice league YouTube Premium child's play miniseries venice teaser crime thriller USA Network Awards Countdown green book science fiction Fox News TCA Awards Syfy Disney richard e. Grant thriller romance Fox Searchlight Stephen King french video on demand TIFF Spring TV canceled TV shows Esquire Sundance Now strong female leads zombie Super Bowl blaxploitation APB Musicals TCA Winter 2020 what to watch Fantasy space cats Premiere Dates Women's History Month Paramount robots Mystery Martial Arts NYCC FXX Nominations Country Comedy Central Opinion unscripted children's TV south america TNT Trivia remakes Best and Worst serial killer true crime tv talk streaming Amazon Prime Video Emmys E! 24 frames disaster Apple TV+ war twilight Cannes cancelled 4/20 Tomatazos Musical cooking Turner Classic Movies spy thriller BET natural history sequel video comedies mockumentary Anna Paquin Star Wars RT History 72 Emmy Awards Rocketman TCA 2017 Netflix docudrama golden globes TLC halloween franchise Polls and Games indie Disney streaming service dogs comic Captain marvel Creative Arts Emmys Arrowverse sitcom WarnerMedia talk show CBS All Access 45 ghosts dramedy latino singing competition FX Spike dceu die hard anthology Character Guide Cosplay hollywood Food Network Sundance YouTube fast and furious screenings cults Sony Pictures Paramount Network rotten Vudu 2017 American Society of Cinematographers doctor who vampires Netflix Christmas movies Travel Channel Shondaland The Witch The Arrangement President Fall TV TCA casting YouTube Red PlayStation Star Trek cartoon Holidays japanese El Rey biography VH1 laika football X-Men CW Seed name the review 2016 Peacock Comics on TV Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt DirecTV archives Bravo anime Warner Bros. award winner Marvel Studios Lionsgate Rock Superheroe Film Lifetime Sundance TV VICE documentaries australia Horror Television Academy based on movie Lucasfilm Holiday Amazon YA USA MCU First Look halloween tv HBO Go game show indiana jones CMT Crunchyroll Brie Larson Endgame Pet Sematary spanish language Britbox Chernobyl romantic comedy politics DC Comics Election foreign ID Reality nfl Marvel dc comic books superhero Winter TV Red Carpet cancelled TV shows TV renewals Marvel Television Masterpiece TCM 2015 Infographic HBO television The Walking Dead Emmy Nominations Animation Watching Series diversity A&E Schedule BBC Tumblr witnail comics spanish Hear Us Out LGBT Elton John period drama Biopics Hallmark Christmas movies RT21 news comiccon discovery batman Walt Disney Pictures movie MSNBC Chilling Adventures of Sabrina crime Drama toy story scorecard Turner concert parents finale dragons stand-up comedy Video Games reboot nbcuniversal VOD mission: impossible scary movies The CW theme song Starz sports DC Universe Rocky BET Awards PBS psycho AMC PaleyFest Pirates 2019 classics Toys criterion DGA OneApp films medical drama hist movies Quiz adventure Action Shudder cancelled television stop motion directors Reality Competition CNN reviews cancelled TV series Extras SXSW GLAAD ESPN TruTV Nat Geo universal monsters WGN facebook Box Office Apple TV Plus Pop cinemax harry potter Black Mirror Film Festival CBS all-time Grammys Pride Month MTV worst Superheroes satire transformers sag awards Trophy Talk boxoffice IFC technology Photos stoner Binge Guide Apple Thanksgiving supernatural hispanic best chucky sequels BAFTA black Christmas Song of Ice and Fire emmy awards italian Mary Tyler Moore Epix E3 Year in Review a nightmare on elm street Universal HBO Max First Reviews BBC One zero dark thirty spider-man Oscars toronto DC streaming service aliens Music Avengers Tarantino Trailer kids SDCC Ellie Kemper IFC Films Freeform Discovery Channel