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Lorraine Toussaint plays the ‘favorite auntie we all have’ in ‘The Equalizer’
Veteran actress Lorraine Toussaint can be seen on several TV platforms in the coming months.
She plays Judge Sara LeBlanc in Showtime’s “Your Honor,” which wraps its season next Sunday, and co-stars in “The Equalizer,” a reboot of the classic series (and 2014 movie) with Queen Latifah in the title role. It’s premiering Sunday night on CBS in the coveted post-Super Bowl slot before moving to its regular time (8 p.m.) on Feb. 14.
Toussaint, 60, also co-stars opposite Idris Elba in the movie “Concrete Cowboys,” streaming this spring on Netflix. She spoke to The Post about all three projects.
“Your Honor” took a long hiatus because of the pandemic shutdown. Was it hard to get back into gear when you returned?
We owed several episodes when we shut down, so it was a matter of, how do we get back to that? It was not an easy feat. We all went into COVID hiding — the hair was different, do the wardrobes still fit? It’s no joke. It was unlike anything I’ve ever experienced. It was very surreal. We were doing something called “block shooting,” which means we were shooting three episodes at the same time…and we had to track where we were in all three episodes from where we left off months ago. It was a real head-squeezer.
When did you start shooting “The Equalizer?”
“Your Honor” shut down [last March] and we were three days away from starting “The Equalizer” when [CBS] pulled the plug. We came back in November and luckily we were starting from scratch. It was easier than having to pick it up from before [a shutdown]. We shot in New York and I was committed to being here because my daughter is a dancer at Alvin Ailey…and I wanted to make sure that, unlike [Queen Latifah’s “The Equalizer” character, Robyn McCall], mama stays home with her teenager. All of these things came together in a lovely package and it was hard to say no.
In “The Equalizer,” you play Robyn’s Aunt “Vi” Marsette.
I play her “very young” aunt. I did see the original franchise and I’m a big fan. I enjoyed the TV show in the ’90s. Because the characters were so very very brooding and male and odd — bordering on psychotic loners with deep dark demons in their past — we reinvented that a bit. Robyn is a black woman [a former CIA operative] who clearly has been, and continues to be, at the top of her game. She left her family life behind while traveling the world taking care of the bad guys, and now she’s come home to a 15-year-old who she doesn’t quite know how to mother anymore, because that’s what [Aunt Vi] has been doing while she was gone. It’s a rough road getting back into the good graces of a 15-year-old who doesn’t trust you anymore, so my part is helping these two characters navigate their way back to each other and to operate as Robyn’s internal moral compass.
My character is a bit of a bohemian. She’s a painter and an artist and well-traveled; she may have some questionable parenting skills but she’s that favorite auntie we all have — she’s irreverent, has been a roadie and toured with a band, and you know she’s got a stash of weed in her room.
What can you tell me about “Concrete Cowboy?”
It’s about a little-known community in urban Philadelphia, a cowboy community that’s existed since the 1800s. These are horse-loving, cowboy-living, urban women and men who still have horses and stables. This community has existed and has been saving children’s and young people’s lives by bringing them to the stables to care for the horses instead of being in gangs. Many of the actual community and cowboys and cowgirls are in the film and play lead roles. I play the co-owner of the stables with Idris Elba’s character. It’s a family drama in an unlikely setting: his teenage son gets dropped off at the stables because his mother has some issues. This is a boy who doesn’t know his father and vice versa. They’re going to find their way to each other through these horses.