THE EQUALIZER: Tory Kittles Previews Conflict—and Collaboration—Between Dante and Robyn - Give Me My Remote : Give Me My Remote

THE EQUALIZER: Tory Kittles Previews Conflict—and Collaboration—Between Dante and Robyn

February 20, 2021 by  

The Equalizer Tory Kittles interview

“Judgment Day” – McCall endeavors to help an escaped prisoner wrongly accused of murder who is too distrustful of the justice system that failed him to accept her aid. Also, McCall worries when her daughter, Delilah, stops hanging out with a close friend, and Detective Dante’s search for McCall takes an unexpected turn, on THE EQUALIZER, Sunday, Feb. 21 (8:00-9:00 PM, ET/PT) on the CBS Television Network.
Pictured: Tory Kittles as Detective Marcus Dante
Photo: Barbara Nitke/CBS ©2021 CBS Broadcasting, Inc. All Rights Reserved.

A man falsely accused of murder needs Robyn’s (Queen Latifah) help on the Sunday, February 21 episode of THE EQUALIZER—and the case puts her directly in the path of Detective Dante (Tory Kittles), who is still trying to figure out who the heck she is.

“Fans are going to get to peek a little bit more about McCall and Dante’s relationship, and the possibilities of where that may lead,” Kittles teases. “It’s a very fun episode.”

Here, Kittles shares more about landing the role of Detective Dante, his long working relationship with Latifah, and what’s ahead…

How did you actually come to join the series?
You know, my team sent me the script, and they sent me the whole breakdown of who was attached. I saw that Queen Latifah was attached to the project and I said “I’m in” before I ever read it, before I ever turned the page. And they said, oh, well, you have to audition. So I went in.

This is the third time that I’ve worked with Queen Latifah. We did STEEL MAGNOLIAS about 10 years ago. And then we did a movie called BESSIE (in 2015), which she was fantastic in. And so I knew I wanted to be a part of anything that she was doing. I just think she’s amazing, an amazing talent. And she’s just amazing to work with.

Given your history, when you knew you were auditioning, did you reach out to her? Or did you wait to reconnect until the chemistry read?
Oh, I never reached out, no. We kept it all business, as I think most of these things should [be]. If it lines up for you, then that’s the way it’s supposed to go. I was shooting an independent film at the time here in New York City, where we [now] shoot THE EQUALIZER, and I was working six-day weeks. We were shooting on a Sunday night, I remember, and a screen test came up where I had to fly back to Los Angeles that Sunday night. So I was hustling to try to get through some work on this independent, to get on a plane to go back to LA, kiss my son and my partner very quickly, and go to a screen test.

That was the day of the Kobe Bryant funeral. And I saw Queen, who was getting out of a car—she was coming from the funeral—and we said a quick hello, and then that was it. I sort of left her alone, I walked away, and I started to prepare things that I gone over about the character that I wanted to do within the screen test. And so I went in to the screen test and obviously she was there, and so was Debra Martin Chase, Shakim Compere, John Davis, and our casting directors, and it was a rather seamless process.

I felt very comfortable, for some reason, and I think that’s just who she is. I’ve told her, subsequently, that she makes me a better actor. She’s so present and she keeps you in the moment; she keeps me in the moment. And so it was a very seamless thing. And then I left here and I jumped back on a plane to get back to New York to finish the other project I was working on. And I think I got a call a day later that I had the part. I was at dinner, I went outside to take the call, and my whole team was on the phone and they told me I had. I literally jumped and I screamed.

After working together on a trio of projects, how much of the chemistry is naturally there versus something you need to actively pursue?
It’s a sort of alchemy that you can’t really create; it’s a natural thing that sort of happens. And I don’t think we’re really aware of it when we’re doing it, we’re just at ease with each other. And I think there’s a reverence and respect that we both have for the work that we’re doing and for the writing that we’ve been given. We want to make that the best. I wish I could explain it. It’s just something that I know that we have it. I know when I see us together on screen, oh, we have great chemistry. But I can’t really articulate it in a way that explains it. It’s just one of those magical things that happens.

Looking to Sunday’s episode Detective Dante is in an interesting position, because he is someone who believes in good—and so does she, but he believes in doing it by the law. What can you preview about how he might handle the realization he could need her help?
Well, I think you hit the nail on the head. He’s a good man trying to do a good thing, within a system that doesn’t always support that. He doesn’t necessarily believe in vigilante justice, but he’s smart enough to know that she is making a difference. And where that goes, with him and within him, is such a conflict, because he wants to do good. And if he sees her doing good, he wants to be a part of that, but he’s in conflict because of the way he wants to do his job.

As we get further along in the season, you will get an idea of why he is the way he is. That’ll sort of start to play out in his personal life, his personal beliefs. She’ll get more into his history, and why it’s such a dilemma for him to consider even the idea of working with her.

How much of that did they tell you at the start and how much have you been discovering on a script-by-script basis?
We talked a lot about the ideas they have for the character, and where they wanted to go with it [at the start]. But it was very general, it wasn’t really specific. The further we go along, the more specific we get of who these people are, [with] all the characters. I think the writers have done such a great job of seeing the episodes unfold and going okay, we can push this a little bit further or we can take the story in this direction based on what we’re seeing here with what’s happening organically between characters that we created.

Creators Andrew Marlowe and Terri Edda Miller mentioned there is a complicated spark between Dante and McCall. How much of that is being seeded into what you’ve filmed so far?
I think Detective Dante is definitely crushing on Robyn McCall, without a doubt. But I don’t think that’s a line he wants to cross. But that is sort of the thing with chemistry, right? With love, you can’t really control who you fall in love with. I don’t know if it’ll go in that direction, completely, but I think that there’s seeds there, that it could lead to that.

And then you add to that the fact that if they were to work together, what would that mean in terms of a personal relationship? There’s a line you have to walk, that Dante is definitely conscious of.

As of where we’re at, Dante is pretty separate from the rest of her life. What do you think his dynamic with her team would be like? Is there a character or actor in particular you’d most like to work with?
I think he’s still discovering more and more about McCall every week. He’s not aware, like the audience is, that she has a team that she’s working with. Right now, she’s a lone wolf—that’s all he knows about her. Just me, Tory, as an actor, as a fan, when I saw the people that were cast in this show…my mind was blown, because I’ve been a fan of every single actor on this show. I wasn’t familiar with how great Laya is, Laya DeLeon Hayes—but I think she’s so terrific [now]. But everyone else: Chris [Noth] and Adam [Goldberg] and Liza [Lapira], I’ve been a fan of all of their work for a very long time. So I will be happy to work with any of them. Any day of the week, anytime.

The show has been pretty action-packed so far, with Robyn in particular being a badass. Is Dante finding himself in any action-filled scenes in the future?
No, I’m very happy to be watching Queen doing all the badass stuff. [Laughs.] I’m happy to watch her do it.

THE EQUALIZER, Sundays, 8/7c, CBS


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