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Interview with Morris Chestnut and Todd
Harthan of "Rosewood" on FOX 9/20/16
I missed this call because I accidentally set my stupid
alarm for PM instead of AM! It's a bummer because I so
enjoyed talking to Morris Chestnut in previous years. I'm so
glad they sent me the transcript, though.
FBC PUBLICITY: Conference Call with
Morris Chestnut and Todd Harthan
September 20, 2016/10:00
and gentlemen, thank you for standing by and welcome to
Conference Call with Morris Chestnut and Todd Harthan. At
this time, all parties are in a listen-only mode. [Operator
instructions.] As a reminder, this conference is being
Iíd now like to turn the conference over
to our host, Mr. Michael Roach. Please go ahead, sir.
Michael: Thanks, everyone, for joining us on this call
today in support of the second season premiere of Rosewood
with Morris Chestnut and series creator, Executive Producer,
Todd Harthan. As a reminder, Rosewood premieres this
Thursday, September 22nd at 8:00 p.m./7:00 p.m. Central on
FOX and as a reminder, this season Eddie Cibrian joins
Morris and the cast as the new police captain. Also noting
that we have two episodes posted on the screening for review
Brad, thanks a lot. I think weíre ready to
Moderator: Thank you. [Operator instructions.]
Morris: Great. Thanks, guys. Talk to you later.
Moderator: And now, we do have one question in queue
right now. Weíll go to the line of Art Shrian with
myNewYorkeye. Please go ahead.
Art: Hi, guys. Howíre
Morris: Very well,
Art: This is Art Shrian from myNewYorkeye.
Congratulations on second season. It must be very, very
exciting. The question to both of you, season one was fun,
but when you get into season two, I hear a lot thatís when
the real work starts. Howís season one different from season
two in terms of your experience and working on season two
and what can the audience expect?
Todd: Morris, you
want to go first or you want me to take it?
Iíll let you take it, sir.
Todd: Yes, season twoís
always a bigger challenge because youíve already told, for
us, 22 episodes. Thatís 22 stories and a lot of silk threads
and a love interests, and the will they or wonít they. We
did a lot in season one.
I think the evolution in
season two was weíre digging a little bit deeper into the
personal relationships in Rosewood and Villaís lives and all
the characterís lives and weíre trying to surprise the
audience withówe definitely had some drama last year, but
weíre trying to tell some stories that probably are a little
bit more visceral and balancing that tone and still trying
to have a good time and making sure that we keep them
laughing too with the comedy. Itís been pushing deeper into
the characters this season for sure, but also not forgetting
that weíre a fun Miami show has been the challenge of the
season. I donít know, hopefully weíre doing pretty well. I
think we are.
Art: Morris, howís your experience
developing the character further? Because youíve already
done this, and now you get in the same character a year
later. Howís that experience now for you?
Itís always interesting. I love cracking open a script and
not really having any kind of idea where the character is
going. What I love about what Todd is doing with the
character, the show, each episode weíre peeling off a layer
of getting deeper and deeper where our characters are coming
from and possibly where we could possibly be going. That
really excites me. I never know when I pick up a script
whatís going to happen, whatís going to be revealed about my
character that I didnít know before. It makes it interesting
and fun for me and hopefully itíll make it interesting and
fun for our audience.
Art: Youíre balancing film and
TV work. I just got the chance to watch Breaking the Bough.
Itís amazing. Congratulations on that, brilliant. Movies,
TV, youíve done that. Now youíre the leading man on all
these several projects right now. How do you balance all
that work, and any preference between TV and film? Whatís
your first love, so to say?
Morris: Well, they both
have their positives and their negatives. What I love about
television, I love the pace. I do love coming to work and
actually working. When you shoot a film, you have a lot of
time, you sit in your trailer quite a bit. By the same
token, that kind of works in reverse, the one thing about
film you do get time, as an actor, to really process
everything thatís going on and just embed it deeper and
deeper into your psyche, your body, everything. With this
weíre working so fast here with so much material in such a
short period of time, itís harder to really let things sink
in. They both have their benefits, but they both have their
drawbacks, as well.
Art: And last question for both
of you guys, Todd, you, and Morris, you as well. I really
appreciate the fact that you created a TV show with a black
leading man which is not a black show. Itís been happening
more and more on TV with Empire and Power and all those
shows which is wonderful and I really you commend you for
that. Can you share, in terms of casting was it a conscious
decision, you wrote this character like that or how did you
arrive at that and whatís your thought on that? And, Morris,
you as a leading industry man of color, whatís your thoughts
in terms of diversity and inclusion thatís going on right
now, howís Hollywood and TV doing in this.
if you watch the Emmyís, I think theyíre doing extremely
well. I think the town has discovered that thereís
incredible talent across the boards in all different
ethnicities, and now theyíre tapping into it. It obviously
took too long, but now itís happening.
You know, was
it a conscious decision? The Rosewood character was always
scripted as African-American so yes, it was a conscious
decision. As far as the cast around him, to me itís just
more interesting. If Iím going to do a hundred episodes of
the show, hopefully or more, to me itís just different
people from different backgrounds, different ethnicities.
I personally feel like that sparks more interesting
stories long-term to make the characters as different as
humanly possible. Itís as simple as that for me. To be
honest, all my pilots that Iíve written in the past, most of
which didnít get made, they all had a big diverse cast. For
me personally, I just think itís more interesting and more
fun and challenging. That was my point of view on that.
Art: Morris, to your extent, what do you think as leading
man now? Youíve worked over 20 years now in the industry.
What do you think, has it evolved? Is it a place you can be
happy and whatís your take on this?
Morris: So, I
think a couple of things, one it is great to have an
opportunity, and Iím glad Todd gave me the opportunity to
play this character because quite frankly five years ago I
donít believe there were any African-American male leads on
television, on network television. Iím not really certain
there was one on cable, unless it was on BET. Now if you
look up, you have Black-ish, you have Rosewood, you have
Empire, you have several shows that have black male leads,
and so I definitely think the climate has changed. I think
In particular about our show,
Rosewood, thatís one of the things I love about our show.
Todd may have had a ďblackĒ doctor or African-American
doctor in mind, but the stories arenít specific to a black
family. These are very universal stories told in a very
If you look at our cast, the one thing
I also love what Toddís done with our cast is everyone is
well represented. Iíd be hard-pressed for anyone to turn on
our show and not see themselves represented in some way,
shape, or form, whether itís racially, financially, in a
number of ways. I think we just have a show that truly is
made for everybody and weíre not hitting people over the
head that this is a black doctor. I think heís a doctor that
happens to be black, and the stories are very universal.
Art: Thank you so much, guys. Congratulations on season
two. Thank you, Todd, for bringing this kind of wonderful
characters and diversity. I really, truly appreciate that.
Thank you, guys.
Todd: All right, bye.
Moderator: And weíll go to the next line,
Ny MaGee with EURweb. Please go ahead.
Thank you, Morris and Todd, for taking a moment out today to
speak with us.
Ny: Yes. My first
question is for Morris.
question is, Morris, audiences love police procedurals
primarily because they play on and, in some cases, relive
our fears. Has the series or will the series coming up play
on any particular fears you have?
Morris: Wow. Yes,
it does. First of all, my characterís dealing with a
particular fear that I think most people have, the fear of
death, not knowing when youíre going to die. Itís not
something thatís at the forefront of my mind in particular,
but you have to think when there are a lot of things
happening in this world and people die suddenly, so you
never really know when youíre going to die. Thatís one of
the things with the Rosewood character. He has this heart
ailment where he could, all of a sudden just die and not be
on this earth anymore. Thatís primarily one of my fears.
Ny: And my next question, what makes Rosewood season two
unique compared to similar shows that explore similar
things? I guess another way of asking it is whatís going to
surprise viewers this season in terms of narrative and
Todd: The thing that weíre trying
to do this year to separate ourselves, one from other shows
and also just to distance ourselves from, we donít want our
stories to be repetitive from season one is the audience
will see both Rosewood and Villa, in a couple instances this
season, their lives will get turned upside down, and
Rosewoodís sense of optimism and his prism will be changed
and shattered and then have to be rebuilt at some point.
Thatís a pretty big surprise that the audience will see.
For Villa as well, there are things that are going to
happen to her life that are going to turn her world upside
down. I think what I hope separates us from the pack is the
way these two characters look out for each other. Itís not
necessarily about will they or wonít they this season. Itís
about an unconditional friendship.
I think thatís
something that hopefullyóIím sure there are some great
friendships on TV. I think this bond between these two
people is special and unique and unlike others on TV and
hopefully thatís what draws our audience to it. Weíre really
pushing the envelope with the trials and tribulations that
these two people go through this year and why each other has
to be the rock for the other to get them through some of the
toughest times of their lives. Itís just going to be great
drama, I think, and hopefully people find it interesting and
refreshing and different than what we did last year.
Ny: Todd, another question I have for you is one of the
elements that makes Rosewood the series so sexy is the city
of Miami. So, Iím wondering if you would mind, and you know,
as viewers know and writers know, location often serves as a
narrative device, most especially in this series. So can you
briefly explain how the city will influence the tone of the
show this upcoming season?
Todd: Yes. We barely
scratched the surface last year with making Miami a
character. This year we made it a point to go back to Miami
and bring Morris and Jaina and shoot this city, the
landscape, the different elements that we just donít have
here in Los Angeles where our stages are, where we film the
I think more than that, for example, thereís
an episode this year where weíre going to, I mean weíre not
physically going there, weíre going to do a little bit of TV
magic, but where weíre going to spend an episode in Cuba
because itís such an important part of Miami and its
proximity and the culture. We didnít really do much with
that last season, and so when you go to Miami, itís just
like the Cuban culture is what makes it so unique and
special. Weíre digging into that both in our guest stars,
and some of the stories will be very specific to Miami as
well. Yes, I think itís just going to be a lot more present
Ny: And my very last question is for
Morris. Morris, if you wouldnít mind sharing with our
readers, looking back on your amazing career, would you mind
telling us what roles, in particular, if any, stand out for
Morris: Oh, wow. Yes, well, this is the thing,
Iíve learned from all of my roles. Itís such an experience
being able to work in the industry and just going from
project to project. Each project you meet new people. You
learn different things about yourself. You learn different
things about other people, and not only as an actor, which
Iíve grown tremendously from my very first job, but just
even as a person, when youíre talking to people and learning
I often feel like my projects and my
roles are like kids because Iíve learned so much from each
of them. I love them all equally; however, when it comes to
roles that stand out in my mind for whatever particular
reason, aside fromóbecause people remind me of it every day
would be Ricky in Boyz n the Hood. I know Lance gets talked
about a lot, but I have to say my favorite character to play
right now is Rosewood because the one thing I love about
this character is and the way Todd does the show is we shift
in tone, we shift the tone of the show so much we can go,
Rosewood can be funny and happy and witty one day and the
next day heís going through some type of drama that just
takes him down and he has to go to dark places where he
doesnít really want to go.
Itís fun to be able to do
that every single day, and like I said earlier, when I pick
up the script, Iím always learning because this is the
longest Iíve ever been on a television show, and Iím always
learning different things about the character. We donít
always know where Todd is going with the script. So I just
wait until I read it to know. Iím really enjoying Rosewood
Ny: Thank you.
Morris: Thank you.
instructions.] Weíll go to the line of Cade Taylor with
Tell-Tale TV. Please go ahead.
Cade: Hello. Howís it
Todd: Hi, whatís up?
Howíre you doing?
Cade: My first question was did you
consult with any real-life private pathologists as research
or did you just jump into this character?
did not. I literally on this project, I literally finished
one project and I think in 24 hours I was on this project. I
talked to Todd, and we have technical advisors on set. Todd
consults with other doctors all the time when heís writing
the script. I can let him say that, but when heís writing
the script, so I have a tremendous amount of resources
available to me.
Cade: Okay. Well, then jumping in so
quick, have there been any challenges playing this
character, if there have been any?
Morris: Yes. First
and foremost, it would be the dialog and the medical jargon.
Weíre going at such a fast pace, one that Iíve really never
been used to for such a sustained period of time. Itís such
a fast pace to where I do like to understand, not just be
able to pronounce what Iím saying, but I also like to
understand what Iím saying and why Iím saying it. I would
say thatís the primary challenge in playing a pathologist
Cade: Okay. Well, between you and your
character on Rosewood, do you think that you share any
Morris: Itís one of those things where just
as an actor, I do share traits with Rosewood, but itís one
of those things where I feel thereís a little bit of me in
Rosewood. Well, thereís a lot of me in all of my characters.
Some things are more suppressed, and some things are at the
surface level. I think with Rosewood, heís much different
than I am. Heís more of a showy, flashy guy, kind of revels
in attention a little bit, to where Iím the complete
opposite. I think our compassion, in regards to people, is
something that we definitely share.
Cade: Okay, my
last question, what was it like working with Taye Diggs in
Best Man Holiday and then Rosewood? Was having him on the
Morris: Listen, Taye is a
tremendous talent. Working with Taye in The Best Man and
Rosewood is great. Taye and I, weíve always had great
chemistry working with each other, and we respect each other
as not only actors, but as people. So, itís great.
Whether it was intentional, when you say intentional for him
to be on the show, Iím not really sure what you mean. I do
think that he is a tremendous asset to a show, so whenever
we have an opportunity to add someone like that to our show,
yes, we would definitely make it very intentional to try to
get that person on the show. Iím just not really sure
exactly what you mean by intentional.
Cade: Well, I
mean because you all had previously worked together, I
didnít know if maybe you had formed a bond and maybe thatís
why he auditioned for the show or was it just random?
Morris: Youíd have to talk to Todd. Iím not certain if he
auditioned or not. I think heís at a level where we probably
made him an offer.
Todd: We did, yes. We looked at
the list of people that were going to come in and play
Rosewoodís best friend, and we knew they already had
chemistry and knew they were friendly off-screen. For us it
took the guesswork out of it. It was just an obvious choice
because we knew heíd be great, and we knew that they liked
each other and that they already had chemistry. We knew we
wouldnít miss with that piece of casting, so we offered it
to him and he came. He was lovely and, you know, you never
know, he could be back.
Cade: Okay. Well, thank you
very much for speaking with me today. I hope you guys have a
Todd: Cool. Thanks.
Morris: Thank you.
Moderator: And our next
question will come from Ty Lee with The Headline. Please go
Ty: Hello, everyone. My name is Ty, and my
question is for Morris Chestnut. It has been said that
LeToya Luckett will be joining the cast as a reoccurring
character named Tawnya, and I just wanted to know, how was
the dynamic working with her on the show?
really enjoy LeToya. I think sheís a really good person, and
sheís a really good actress. Iím really excited for everyone
to see because I know everyone knows her from Destinyís
Child and they know that she can really sing. She is
actually a very talented artist, and I canít wait for people
to see her act. She has such a refreshing presence when you
look at her onscreen. Iím really excited about her addition.
Ty: Okay and my other question for you is itís been
said that sheís going to play your love interest. How would
that play out knowing that Annalise is one of your love
interests and is it humanly possible for you and Annalise to
have such a strong connection and tension between each other
and for you to go astray and talk to Tawnyaís character?
Morris: Well, Iíll let Todd get into how itís going to
play out because he knows things that I donít know. Heís
steering this ship. So, Todd would you like to address that
Todd: I think what the audience will find
at the beginning of this season is that these two
characters, Rose and Villa, have to build back their
friendship before thereís any idea of a romantic
relationship. Itís more about them getting back to a place
where they have a healthy friendship, and for both of these
characters, theyíre going to go their separate ways in their
personal lives and keep it professional for a good chunk of
While theyíre in that phase of this
partnership, theyíll both have different love interests, and
they will each be supportive and respectful of those love
interests without jealousy or childishness. Theyíre very
mature about it in this season as they both do some work on
themselves and on their partnership. Itís just a little bit
more complicated and a little messier this season. During
that period, there are going to be characters like Tawnya
who enter Rosewoodís life and stay for a good chunk of time.
Ty: Thank you so much. I truly appreciate it.
Todd: Thank you.
Morris: Thank you.
Moderator: Weíll go to the next line of Sandra Varner. Please
Sandra: Good morning. Thank you for the
time. My first question is for Todd. Realizing, Morris
Chestnut as an actor spans a couple of decades, though heís
still a very young man, what percentage of the story do you
feel should be equal parts for every generation so that
everybody has a vested interest in the story?
think the way in which we approach our cases and stories and
also the guest stars that enter our show, we try to keep it
as wide of a net as possible. I think Morris made the point
in an earlier question that when you watch Rosewood, I think
what we really try to focus on and achieve is that thereís
something for everyone at all ages of this show, and itís a
very family friendly show. Be it late teens all the way up
into people that are in their sixties or seventies, I think
thereís something to enjoy about either the family dynamic
of the Rosewoods or the heart and soul and emotion of the
victims that he and Villa and the police department are
trying to solve every week.
Some of those victims
are very young and have lost their lives at a very young
age, and some of them are older. We just try to have a
veryóour show isnít just diverse in our cast, itís diverse
in the stories we tell, and hopefully thereís something for
people of all ages and ethnicities to find and appreciate in
Sandra: Morris, earlier you stated that
this is the longest run youíve had on a TV show, and given
the fact that youíre a celebrity and your brand is one of
high value, what do you feel a director comes to you for?
What is your most deliverable aspect of your talent cache?
Morris: Thatís an interesting question. Thatís a
tough question for me. What would I say that I think people
may feel is, I think, I really donít know. I wish I had the
answer to that question.
I think that Iíve been
around such a long time in the industry, I would like to
think that Iíve built up a resume of being dependable,
coming to work on time, if not before work, having my lines
down, and just being very dependable and efficient on set to
where Iím not really causing any type of distractions. Iím
not causing any delays that would prove costly to the
I like to think thatís one of the things
that I definitely feel that probably contribute to my
longevity. I think that I take pride in the work that I do,
and I do the best that I can. Because Iíve been in the
industry for a certain amount of time, I have somewhat of an
audience that contributes to the process as well.
Sandra: Your response is interesting because it does reveal
that business aspect of you. You do have the business of
show in your DNA, it seems.
Morris: I think that was,
to be honest with you, it was one of the primary things that
I wasóI was not drawn to this industry to be famous. I was
not drawn to this industry to be seen. I had an opportunity
early on when I was trying to figure out what I wanted to
do, and I felt that it would provide me with the lifestyle
that I felt that I wanted. It was not a lifestyle just of
fame, it was more a lifestyle of just being comfortable and
being able to have flexibility and ďnot go into an office
every day.Ē So, yes, I was more drawn to the industry in
terms from a business perspective, at the very beginning,
rather than a being famous perspective.
as is well-noted, you are somewhat bashful when you get
attention based on your looks, but with that, what do you do
to stay physically fit? Whatís your regime? What are your
Morris: I work out quite a bit. I try to get
a lot of rest. I try to get a lot of sleep. Iíve been
fortunate that my lifestyle has helped because thereís
things that I like to do. I do like to go to bed early. I
donít stay up late. I donít drink, and I work out. So thatís
proven to be very beneficial to me in this industry in terms
of my physique and looks or whatever.
finally, Todd, a salute to the story arc. Itís good to see a
relationship unfold and develop without rushing to the
physicality that weíre so used to in TV. I applaud that.
Todd: Ah, thank you. I appreciate you
saying that. Thank you.
Sandra: Okay. Thank you,
Todd: Bye. Thank you.
Michael: We have one more person in line if you
guys have time.
Moderator: Currently there
are no further questions in queue actually.
All right. Perfect. Perfect timing.
Michael: Thank you so much. Thank
you, everyone. Thank you guys for joining us on the call
today, and as a reminder, Rosewood premieres this Thursday,
September 22nd at 8:00 p.m./7:00 p.m. Central on FOX.
Todd: Great. Thank you, guys.
Morris: Bye. Thank
you, guys. Bye.
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