'Pearson' star Eli Goree says spin-off has 'DNA' of 'Suits', but is so political, people will 'connect with it on a real visceral level'
Had Eli Goree not missed the call from the producers of 'Suits', he would have been part of the legal drama series. But as luck would have it, he wasn't in town and lost the opportunity to be part of the popular hit series. However, he got a second chance as he was one of the actors who auditioned for 'Pearson,' a spin-off of 'Suits' and he grabbed it with both hands.
In an exclusive interview with MEA WorldWide (MEAWW), the Canadian actor spoke at length about his role on the show, its focus and the prepping for the character he's slated to play. Goree plays Derrick Mayes, a former journalist who works as a young press secretary to Chicago's Mayor, Bobby Novak (Morgan Spector).
Goree spent his summer preparing for the role. "I was looking to get a role, something that was smart, very witty and I was really excited to try and work on a character like that," he said. The audition he terms was "a fit right off the bat".
"I got this audition, it was [a] cast that I already knew and liked, and so I went in and auditioned, met the producers and they offered me the role. It was just one of those things, where I was at the right place at the right time and the right role."
He describes his character Mayes as an earnest guy. "He cares a lot about the city of Chicago and wants to make a difference. But he doesn't have his head in the clouds," he said. "He's very practical, pragmatic and wants to make this change. He started off in journalism and he took a job working for the mayor of Chicago as the Press Secretary so that he could put his thoughts to action."
"At the core of who this guy is, he's just a good-hearted guy and he wants to help people and he has a lot of love," Goree explained. Goree is an ardent believer in doing in-depth research. When he landed the role, he got down to some serious research.
"I relied heavily on the writers. The writers were from Chicago, had worked in hard news and had a history there, so I would talk to them about things I didn't understand about Chicago's culture and I also spoke to a lot of people on the crew who were from Chicago when I was working on my accent to make sure it sounded authentic," he said. "And finally, I watched all of the shows that I felt would inspire me and help build this character, and did my homework and research on the city of Chicago and the history of politics there."
To Goree, 'Pearson' is a lot more political in nature as opposed to 'Suits'. "I think that this show has the DNA of 'Suits' all over it. 'Suits' wanted to talk about politics, they alluded to it, but it wasn't in the framework of that environment," he explained.
"It just touched on politics, here, they dig deep on things that 'Suits' was only able to kind of touch on the surface and get down to the foundation of the issues that everyone in our country is talking about, that's on the news every day, that people are interested and people want to know what's happening. This show looks at it from another view and puts it into a perspective of the entertainment and also thought-provoking content," he added. "People are going to connect with it on a real visceral level."
Goree also broke down the traits of the two characters, Jessica Pearson (Ginna Torres) and Bobby Novak (Spector): "For Derrick specifically, he's very strong-willed, and obviously, Jessica Pearson is also strong-willed, and the Mayor of Chicago (Novak), he's the one who wants things to go smoothly, he just wants to maintain the status quo as best as he possibly can."
"With me and Jessica, sometimes we butt heads, other times we're on the same side, but at the end of the day, my goal is to do what's best for Chicago and her goal is, in my opinion, is to also do that. So, we just have different ways of going about it," Goree remarked.
The 'Race' star was also full of praise for his co-stars, Gina Torres, and Morgan Spector: "They're so cool and so professional. They're very nice, genuine people. Morgan has a young family, so he's quite excited about that. Gina has just been the quintessential number one. She always does the right thing, she carries herself with so much grace and humility and professionalism. It's been wonderful and when we're all on-screen, there are a lot of sparks flying, but off it, it's all love."
'Pearson' premieres on the USA Network July 17.