‘9-1-1: Lone Star’ Actor Gina Torres Talks Rob Lowe, ‘The Matrix’ Franchise and Her ‘Suits’ Co-Star Meghan Markle
One can’t help, when given the chance, to ask Gina Torres about her former “Suits” co-star Meghan Markle. Especially when it comes to talk of fans wanting a reunion of the USA Network legal drama. Markle observers wonder she’d sign on. “Yeah, keep waiting for that,” Torres tells me from her Los Angeles home during an interview for this week’s episode of the Variety and iHeart podcast “The Big Ticket.” “I can honestly say, of all the people that have come in and out of my life, I worry about her the least.”
Torres returns to television this month on the second season of “9-1-1: Lone Star.” She stars opposite Rob Lowe on the Fox series, which was created by Ryan Murphy, Brad Falchuk and Tim Minear, as Paramedic Captain Tommy Vega. “He has all kinds of stories and has worked with everybody and has been in the company of everybody,” Torres says of Lowe. “He loves telling those stories. So in between action and cut is a lot of fun.”
How much did you know about “9-1-1: Lone Star” before you were cast on the show?
I live in LA so there’s the University of Billboards, which certainly educates me on what’s on TV. I was home and the TV was on and I’m sure I clicked over from streaming something and “Lone Star” was on and I was like, “Who are these people? What’s the storyline? Look at all these gorgeous, young, diverse characters.” And then I left the room and Rob Lowe comes on and I was like, did somebody change the channel? Not in a bad way. It was just like, I’m trying to make sense of the world that I’m watching. It’s pretty amazing when you really look at not only the cast, but then the storylines.
Do you remember the first time you ever saw Rob Lowe? I can tell you he’s one of the reasons I know I’m gay.
[Laughs] And he is specifically one of the reasons why a lot of people know they’re straight. Or maybe not. First of all, being up close to [Lowe], that doesn’t disappoint. It’s ridiculous. Like I used to be the pretty one in the room, but I just give that up.” But then there’s that double edged sword. He’s such a huge part of my adolescence, all those John Hughes movies, and you know the Brat Pack. I recently did “Riverdale” and I got to exchange a few words with Molly Ringwald. So my experience of that whole time was washing over me like everybody else, right? The phenomenon of all those movies like “St. Elmo’s Fire” and the list goes on and on. And it’s not until recently, where I had to acknowledge the fact that I jumped into those worlds because I had no choice. That’s all there was. I had to find an emotional connection because that was all that there was. All that teenage angst, all the things that are universal about those shows and movies, but did a boy ever pick me up in his car in the Bronx? No.
Your character’s husband has to close the restaurant he owns because of COVID. Will the pandemic be a big part of the storylines this season?
Absolutely. I think we would have done the audience a disservice because as first responders as frontline workers, you can’t ignore what’s happening around us. And we’re not an alternate universe, we’re a real-time universe. So we acknowledge it and there are a lot of masks on the set in front of and behind the camera. But I can assure the audience that you’re not going to be treated to an hour of this. You’ll see our eyes, you’ll see our faces, you’ll see our whole faces, there’s a full range of emotion.
You were in the second and third “Matrix” movies. Are you surprised there’s going to be a fourth one?
Not to be bitter or anything, but the people that are actually in the movie, I believe died. And the people that aren’t didn’t. So that’s all I have to say about that. I’m so curious about where they’re going with this. And what’s their jumping off point and what story they want because it just felt like they told it.
Do you remember first reading the scripts?
I just remember Laurence [Fishburne, Torres’ now ex-husband] telling me about [the first ‘Matrix’] and thinking, “Sure, good luck with that.” And then I went to visit him on set in Sydney. And the Wachowskis had a dinner party because they wanted to show the cast what they had cut together. And what they had cut together was the beginning of the rescue sequence. It was Carrie-Anne [Moss]. It was Hugo [Weaving] basically telling his men they were already dead. Cut to Carrie-Anne kicking major butt and then that whole bank sequence where they go to rescue Morpheus and the first time you see bullet-time. I’m sitting there and I didn’t even know my mouth was open. Like I had no idea how far down my jaw had dropped. And then I don’t think I had actually taken a breath for three minutes. I was like, “Oh, that’s what y’all are doing all the way down here in Sydney.”
Where is the dress you wore to Megan Markle and Prince Harry’s wedding? You got so much attention for it.
I just bought a little frock off of the internet. There was absolutely no reason for me to think that I was going to get any camera time whatsoever. I had a really cute hat that I loved that I knew I could wear again. A lot of the ladies and I were on a thread and there was this concern because of protocol and what’s acceptable — none of this, none of that. I remember thinking, “Well, my dress is some of that, and some of that, and some of that. We’ll see what happens, but no one’s going to be looking at us because we’re the ugly Americans.” Buy it was quite something. We had to give our phones but when we all got back on our bus to be taken back to the hotel and we were given our phones back and the bus had moved out of the dead zone, you could hear all the cell phones ringing in the bucket, this cacophony of pings and all of these websites and people sending me pictures of me on 10 best dressed lists. Everyone is always asking about a “Suits” reunion and then trying to figure out if there was one if Meghan would do it, too.
This interview has been edited and condensed. Listen to it in its entirety above. You can also listen to “The Big Ticket” at iHeartRadio or wherever find your favorite podcasts.