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?

(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 -- 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

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