The USA Network’s Suits has become one of the most thrilling and unpredictable series on television, and things are sure to heat up on the summer finale. As Jessica Pearson, actress Gina Torres is compelling in every episode, partly for her strength and brutal honesty, and partly because she can be both your best enemy and your worst friend, especially if you’re Harvey Specter (Gabriel Macht).
During this recent exclusive phone interview with Collider, Gina Torres talked about what’s coming up for her character, what she’s enjoyed about the journey this season, how the stakes just keep getting higher and higher, whether Jessica and Harvey can ever expect true loyalty from each other, and whether she’d like to see Jessica get a love interest. She also talked about her experience doing Season 1 of Hannibal and her hope to return to Season 2, and what’s it like for people to still be fans of Firefly, so many years after it went off the air. Check out what she had to say after the jump, and be aware that there are some spoilers.
Collider: Just when you think things can’t get any more intense on Suits, you watch the next episode and it totally proves you wrong. That being the case, what can you say about the summer finale? Will you be ending on a major cliff-hanger that will leave viewers throwing things at their TV?
GINA TORRES: Oh, yes! I can pretty much promise you that, if you’re not throwing things at your TV, you’re thinking, “Noooo!” The last six episodes of the season will air in January. But, there’s a lot going on. There’s been a lot of shifting of loyalties and relationships being tested.
What can you say to tease what will happen for Jessica, coming up?
TORRES: Jessica is good. Jessica is solid. She’s around. She’s not going anywhere. She’s keeping her office, I can promise you that. Fortunately, she’s saved her firm, but there are still a couple of things that have to be dealt with.
Season 1 and Season 2 had to lay the groundwork for all of these characters, and Season 2 really started to test everybody’s loyalties. What have you enjoyed about the journey you’ve taken with Jessica, thus far, and what have you enjoyed specifically about Season 3?
TORRES: What’s really lovely for me, just as an actor, being in this character’s shoes, is that it’s like a slow, old-fashioned striptease that’s more tease than strip. Every few episodes, there’s another layer that slowly peels away, and you get to see into who this woman is, where she comes from and what drives her. That’s fun for me. We get to know the other characters, as the season goes on, but they’re pretty much out there. With Jessica, you have to really be paying attention. And that’s fun for me.
She’s the one that you never know how she’s going to react.
TORRES: No, you don’t. And I think that adds to her mystery and to her intimidation factor with the other partners, even Harvey. Harvey likes to think he knows Jessica, but does he really? More than anybody, he knows what she’s capable of, but he’s never quite sure how she’s gonna react. Especially this season, you’re never sure how she’s going to wield her power, or how that’s going to come up. That’s something that the writers and I talk about. They talk about her being a master chess player, and I think we’re seeing more of that in action, as opposed to just talking about it.
TORRES: No, there really wouldn’t be a show, if we just plodded along and it was always just a bright, sunny day. Sometimes you lose, and sometimes you lose big. Those are the stakes of the show. The stakes just keep getting higher and higher. And then, there’s always that ticking time bomb of Mike (Patrick J. Adams) and his little secret that may or may not be exposed, at any given moment.
Do you think that Jessica and Harvey (Gabriel Macht) can ever really expect true loyalty from each other?
TORRES: I think there’s a level of loyalty. Jessica has to get over this big betrayal that Harvey likes to say, “I didn’t actually do it,” about. It’s like, “Okay, but you really came close.” The guillotine stopped about two inches from her neck, but that’s supposed to be okay because he didn’t actually kill her. So, she’s gotta compartmentalize and absorb that, and figure out a way to move past it. Ultimately, she cares a great deal for Harvey. They’re family. She believes in his work ethic and his talent, as a lawyer. It is a value to her. It’s one of the reasons why that scene when she presents him with the card that has his name on it is one of my favorite scenes. It wasn’t all unicorns and rainbows, and it wasn’t a move to buy him, but it also wasn’t like, “I’m giving you an A+ on this exam.” It was like, “I value you. This is what it is. We haven’t been great, but you’ve earned this, so here you go.” It’s very complicated.
No matter what she says, do you think Harvey’s betrayal is ever something she can truly get passed, or is it something she’ll always think about?
TORRES: It’s very human, isn’t it? And I think it makes for very interesting watching. Ultimately, we try to make these characters as human as possible. They are heightened versions of people that we know, but they are human. There is no magic elixir that makes it all go away. All of us that have been in relationship and felt betrayed or hurt, we carry that with us and it can’t help but inform the relationships that we have.
Jessica can give a tongue-lashing when she needs and wants to, but it also seems like we’ve only seen a fraction of what she’s capable of, when she gets really mad.
TORRES: Yes, exactly!
As cable television pushing boundaries in violence, language and nudity, people have a certain level of expectation now, which could hurt the networks that can’t push the envelope quite as far. Suits is a show that’s not on paid cable, but really does push things further, every season, and has gotten pretty dark and intense sometimes. Is that a direction that you’ve been pleased to see the show go in, especially with as competitive as things are now for TV shows to bring in viewers?
TORRES: It’s incredibly competitive. As it relates to our show, I think if it’s right for the show and it’s right for the story that we’re telling, then great. It really doesn’t feel like we are forcing the content of the show, so that we can compete with cable. The darkness that was in the writing this season, I felt was very organic and made sense. To some degree, we get to say some things that you can’t say on network, but I still believe that we’re being true to the show that everybody was fascinated by and has stuck with. We’re not going to turn into Breaking Bad or Dexter. That’s just not going to happen.
Are there things that you would still like to see for Jessica, as a character, that you haven’t gotten to explore yet? Are you rooting for her to get a love interest, or do you prefer focusing more on the professional than the personal with her?
TORRES: It’s gotta be right. I love that every interview that I do asks me about her personal life. Yes, I would like to see her personal life, of course. It’s part of exploring this character. Where else can we go with her? But, it’s got to be right and, please god, let it be interesting. It has to be somebody interesting, and somebody that I want to play with. If we’re just doing it to check off a box, then the audience will know that it doesn’t feel right, and it will be hard to get over that. The fact is that, even if Jessica is in a romantic relationship, she’s not suddenly going to go all pink and fuzzy. I do not want to disappoint anybody, so it’s gotta be right, whatever it is and however it comes about.
You also did terrific work with your husband, Laurence Fishburne, on the first season of Hannibal, and it seems that there’s still so much left there to explore. How was that experience, and will you be able to return for Season 2?
TORRES: I have a love interest on that show! There has been talk about Season 2, and I’m excited about that. It was a great experience. It was wonderful. We work very well together, and we enjoyed each other’s company. We have a nice, healthy, wonderful working relationship, and then we get to go home and talk about it a little bit. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, I love my husband. I think he’s brilliant and a genius. As an actress, to work with that caliber of actor is always a thrill. It can only make you better.
When you did Firefly, could you ever have imagined that a show that was so short-lived would sustain its fan base, all these years later, to the point where they’re even keeping the characters going in comic books now?
TORRES: God, no! It’s been 11 years since we’ve been off the air. I just recently did a convention and I signed autographs for parents who wanted me to personalize it to their daughter who was maybe six months old. They said, “She’s a fan. She just doesn’t know it yet.” That’s awesome!
Since you’ve definitely proven that you can kick some ass, both physically and verbally, do you have any desire to play a really cool character, either hero or villain, in one of these big comic book movies?
TORRES: You know, the older I get, I just don’t know. But, there is absolutely that part of me that watches action shows and goes, “I can still do that. I can still roll with that. I stay in shape. I keep it together. I stay strong.” So yes, I would love to do that, as my one last hurrah. That would absolutely be great, and I’m sure my fans would love that. I would love to take off the stilettos and put the boots back on. Strap something to my hip, and let’s go!
The Suits Season 3 summer finale airs on USA on September 17th, and the remainder of the season will return in January 2014.