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10 Quick Questions for Gina Torres

Actress stars in new Netflix rom-com ‘The Perfect Find’


spinner image gina torres sits on a black surface in front of a blue and black background, wearing a colorful draping dress and large dangling hoop earrings
FOX via Getty Images

Gina Torres, 54, plays a glamorous, cutthroat fashion mogul in the new Netflix romantic comedy The Perfect Find. And although she loves playing a bold villain on screen, in reality, she tells AARP, she prefers a low-profile lifestyle, watching black-and-white movies and keeping up an aura of mystique.   

Your character in The Perfect Find is more of a villain. Was that fun to play?
Of course. Villains are the best. Villains are great. Villains are therapy. You get to say all the things that you’re really taught not to say. And spare no one’s feelings and get what you want. Those are juicy parts, and then the fun part is to actually really find the space to make them human so that you love to hate them — you don’t just hate them.

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What are your favorite rom-coms?

I gotta go way back — like way, way back. Like black and white all the way back. High Society, which is just great and so much fun. It’s the musical version of The Philadelphia Story. Also The Shop Around the Corner with Jimmy Stewart, which is the original version of You’ve Got Mail. His Girl Friday and Bell, Book and Candle. I’m not just more than qualified to be [an] AARP [member], but I’m also an old soul on top of that. The new [movies] are fun, [but] I just loved how romance and language was expressed during a time when you could be so naughty and it doesn’t sound naughty at all. It’s just the flirting, and the flirtation, and the less is more. I love that. When you can’t say everything, what’s left? How do you express that? How do you show someone?

spinner image gabrielle union (left) as jenna jones, sits across gina torres as darcy hill at a colorful pink table in front of a colorful pink and purple backdrop with a large letter z on it, in a scene from the perfect find movie
In "The Perfect Find," Gabrielle Union, left, plays fashion editor Jenna Jones, who falls in love with the son of her villainous rival turned boss, Darcy Hill, played by Gina Torres.
Alyssa Longchamp/Netflix

 

Who is your dream rom-com costar/celebrity crush?

Oh, my guy and I have this joke all the time because we talk about our crushes. And I’m like, “Well, you’re safe because most of mine are dead. So you’re really OK. You’re safe.” I’ve always had a massive crush on James Garner, and I’ve heard from people who knew him that he was a lovely man. Among the living, I would say Hugh Jackman, Pedro Pascal, Idris Elba.

 

What about your acting inspirations?

There are many. But I always come back to the “OG” — the one so many actresses of my generation have studied: Bette Davis. Her intelligence and power are both unnerving and seductive.

You’re an accomplished soprano who trained in opera and jazz, and your 9-1-1: Lone Star character wowed us with her singing skills this past season. Do you want to incorporate more singing into your roles?

Life is so cyclical in that crazy way. All I did was musical theater for the first 10 years of my career. And then I just started doing more plays, a little TV, and then more TV. And then I started doing more straight theater, and then more TV. I would say within five years, people just didn’t even think of me as being a singer or an actor that can sing. And that’s fine. That’s the direction that my life went in. Now it seems to be coming full circle in that there are these little bits and pieces that keep popping up that require me to sing. It’s great and it’s fun, and it just reminds me that I have to stay in shape. Because a voice, like anything else, is part of your body. And it’s a muscle, and it needs to be exercised and worked and oiled and all of those things. It’s exciting. I look forward to whatever light bulb goes on over whatever producer’s head … and we’ll see where we go from here.

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If you could put yourself into one role, what would it be?

Mame. I love that character and the irreverence she lives her life with. Her relationships. Her acceptance of everyone. Her love and commitment to Patrick [her orphaned 10-year-old nephew who comes to live with her on the eve of the Great Depression]. It would be an interesting rewrite in some ways — given the period of time it covers — but also incredibly timely as I look at what the world looks like today.

 

How did you navigate being part of a high-profile couple during your 16-year marriage to ex-husband Laurence Fishburne?

We were very private. We picked and chose very carefully the times that we did work together. It was also during the time where social media wasn’t such a big part of the landscape of being a celebrity. We didn’t go to every red carpet that we were invited to. We didn’t court the press. We did our jobs as actors and promoted the things that we were in, and that was it. Now PR seems to be a 24/7 game with social media, and it’s not one that I subscribe to. Again, I pick and choose and I use my platform as well as I can, but I’m also very much of that old school of acting.

 

What do you mean by “old school of acting”?

If people know everything about you, then it makes it harder for them to suspend their disbelief when they’re watching you in a role. Mystery is always beneficial to an actor. That might mean taking myself out of being a spokesperson for this, that and the other, and thereby making a bunch of money that way. But I enjoy my life, such as it is, the work that I’m doing, and not because of what I’m doing off-screen. I have no desire to really pimp my private life to that degree.

 

You have a teenage daughter [Delilah Fishburne]. What’s the most important thing you want her to know?

I want her to know that it gets better. It doesn’t always make sense, but it gets better. Our ability to really release the small stuff is such a blessing, and that comes with time. … I know who I am. There are things that I know I want to do. There are things I know I have to work hard for, that I’m prepared to work hard for. And then there are other things where I’m like, Yeah, no, not so much.

 

Any summer plans?

I’m going to Greece for the first time [with] family, [where I will do] a little bit of everything. Of course, there’s some sightseeing. I work very hard, and as I told my partner, who loves to go, go, go [while] on vacation, My entire life is go, go, go. Let’s do everything that we can, and then I’m gonna sit down and not do anything.

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