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

Mindy Kaling comic book movies scary ESPN ViacomCBS independent Amazon Studios Marvel Studios Grammys MSNBC romantic comedy Pacific Islander zombies Song of Ice and Fire hidden camera cancelled TV shows Infographic Watching Series Toys X-Men sag awards YouTube BBC Crackle renewed TV shows thriller Western Apple TV+ Holidays marvel comics Trivia zombie Amazon CBS Tomatazos reviews scary movies Columbia Pictures Opinion ABC Signature Marvel Television Instagram Live Musicals latino emmy awards unscripted Rock American Society of Cinematographers live action Spike 73rd Emmy Awards Winter TV 2016 screenings marvel cinematic universe archives debate The Witch NBC The Walt Disney Company golden globes ABC legend IMDb TV 2015 Lifetime Mystery breaking bad politics LGBTQ cooking french Fox News adaptation video indiana jones HBO Max NYCC Set visit 71st Emmy Awards foreign green book child's play dreamworks Box Office Hulu adenture E! YouTube Red rotten sports halloween suspense Cosplay cancelled television Image Comics TLC Pixar Turner animated OWN Valentine's Day spider-verse 90s laika Binge Guide Extras BBC America USA olympics lord of the rings Walt Disney Pictures Netflix psycho New York Comic Con TCA Winter 2020 Black History Month women hist action-comedy Action venice Peacock stoner biopic ghosts psychological thriller Paramount Plus remakes The Walking Dead historical drama 4/20 witnail comedies dexter 45 See It Skip It The CW classics USA Network CW Seed DGA period drama TIFF know your critic CBS All Access italian cancelled critic resources Comedy Central PlayStation disaster Logo Heroines Baby Yoda Marvel movies GIFs comiccon halloween tv video on demand Freeform TruTV WarnerMedia joker revenge facebook award winner Teen Nominations stand-up comedy movie TV movies Exclusive Video name the review Dark Horse Comics Film japanese APB LGBT transformers political drama FXX Marathons Awards Tour 78th Annual Golden Globe Awards mob Sundance TV Sundance Now black Avengers justice league Captain marvel Pirates Photos Amazon Prime Video IFC spy thriller boxoffice DC Universe scorecard cops Rocky free movies gangster discovery DC streaming service obituary Lionsgate feel good TV telelvision doctor who Polls and Games Apple rt labs critics edition comic books crime thriller Calendar singing competition Amazon Prime screen actors guild anthology fast and furious Disney streaming service book adaptation BET teaser Super Bowl tv talk chucky BAFTA dark Fox Searchlight Sundance documentary A&E Paramount ABC Family GLAAD National Geographic streaming movies king kong 99% cars game show japan comic Pop TV werewolf worst movies 2018 social media spanish Stephen King rotten movies we love Comic-Con@Home 2021 worst Acorn TV Esquire spanish language Chilling Adventures of Sabrina First Reviews Brie Larson versus TCA 2017 AMC MTV satire cartoon Superheroes BET Awards pirates of the caribbean SDCC festival hispanic kaiju Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt Horror TCA Awards technology reboot spider-man rt archives 21st Century Fox Anna Paquin TBS dceu royal family war Spring TV aliens batman OneApp Election Hallmark Christmas movies Ghostbusters dogs Tokyo Olympics game of thrones Masterpiece President biography YouTube Premium Drama Shondaland Bravo Rom-Com Reality Competition book christmas movies cinemax Tumblr Sony Pictures Premiere Dates police drama talk show mockumentary The Purge robots Disney+ Disney Plus cancelled TV series universal monsters Academy Awards slashers Women's History Month Shudder Music travel superhero best Winners Interview kong Arrowverse black comedy criterion 20th Century Fox theme song Ovation Summer Chernobyl A24 a nightmare on elm street Family RT History all-time streaming supernatural target anime SXSW Creative Arts Emmys nfl SundanceTV Neflix Pop TV renewals scene in color 2021 serial killer E3 concert international slasher jurassic park godzilla Writers Guild of America canceled TV shows Television Academy Classic Film twilight docuseries 2019 Travel Channel stop motion art house CMT romance El Rey Fantasy ratings Hear Us Out FX on Hulu Pride Month spinoff 72 Emmy Awards Mary poppins documentaries crime Lucasfilm festivals GoT what to watch sequels VICE vs. Disney Channel 007 VOD Britbox monster movies RT21 cats blockbusters children's TV Comic Book natural history sopranos superman razzies medical drama Star Trek Character Guide Netflix Christmas movies sequel History dc cults Superheroe Mary Poppins Returns Film Festival Countdown blockbuster Trailer fresh Quiz Holiday Mary Tyler Moore australia based on movie Vudu Endgame Video Games Sneak Peek wonder woman news Trophy Talk Cartoon Network prank Broadway TCA Disney Plus nbcuniversal young adult die hard Epix Alien ID Podcast Elton John Legendary Musical canceled Discovery Channel hollywood toronto WGN deadpool 1990s vampires adventure posters heist movie Turner Classic Movies The Arrangement blaxploitation Star Wars Paramount Network Best and Worst richard e. Grant zero dark thirty Hallmark miniseries Kids & Family space Biopics TV One high school dragons composers 24 frames Reality aapi Starz Adult Swim Funimation Disney Food Network TNT ITV 93rd Oscars crime drama Tubi Awards crossover parents live event MCU First Look directors Cannes james bond IFC Films Animation south america Wes Anderson science fiction Fall TV TCM Emmys Mudbound Syfy Oscars jamie lee curtis FX Nickelodeon mcc comics Nat Geo television saw critics 2017 dramedy Red Carpet boxing popular true crime comic book movie mutant PaleyFest Black Mirror docudrama 2020 HBO Emmy Nominations DirecTV toy story Spectrum Originals TV Land films binge Sci-Fi hispanic heritage month Certified Fresh Universal Pictures new zealand finale YA DC Comics Year in Review PBS Warner Bros. VH1 franchise spain indie Pet Sematary AMC Plus casting FOX Television Critics Association quibi Lifetime Christmas movies rt labs Showtime harry potter Country NBA new york asian-american series Comics on TV Christmas new star wars movies Schedule San Diego Comic-Con diversity genre HBO Go king arthur Rocketman The Academy trailers Comedy basketball Thanksgiving Tarantino mission: impossible football rom-coms golden globe awards kids sitcom Martial Arts BBC One Apple TV Plus CNN Universal Crunchyroll Ellie Kemper elevated horror nature strong female leads