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Tory Kittles Discusses His Return to ‘The Equalizer’ and What We Can Expect This Season

Since its debut last year, actor Tory Kittles has worked alongside Emmy Award-winning actress Queen Latifah in CBS’ television series adaptation of The Equalizer. Kittles portrays Marcus Dante, a divorced father and NYPD detective who initially tried to bring Robyn (Latifah) down, but forms an alliance and friendship while teaming up with her to solve crimes as the series has progressed.

The third season of the series is set to premiere on CBS this Sunday, October 2nd at 8:30 PM ET and stream on Paramount+ as well. According to the official logline of the season premiere episode titled, Boom, in the aftermath of her abduction, the walls between McCall’s family and vigilante life continue to crumble as those closest to her must come together for the first time to save her, which includes Kittles’ character Marcus Dante.

Kittles' career has spanned over two decades and aside from his role in The Equalizer series, he is known for his work in films including Get Rich or Die Tryin’, Malibu’s Most Wanted and Olympus Has Fallen. He also previously co-starred with Latifah in the HBO made-for-television Bessie Smith biopic Bessie. Kittles briefly chatted with The Quintessential Gentleman about Dante’s evolution in the series and what he represents to Black men.

With McCall's abduction, how does that change the direction of Dante's story from past seasons?

With the abduction of Robyn, the walls are coming down and all the key players are finally going to converge as they try to save her. This will help bring everyone together, enabling all of the character dynamics to play with each other even more. It’s not going to be a team now, it’s going to be a family. From the beginning of the series, Dante has been looking for a team to trust, even better if it’s a family.

What do you think makes Dante a complex Black man?

What makes anyone complex? How he was raised. The conflicting ideas placed upon him by his parents. How he views the world and his perception of how the world views him. How he balances his professional and personal lives. How he deals with the trauma from his own abduction (in season two, episode D.W.B) by men who took the same oath that he took, men who swore to protect and serve. Dante is carrying a lot of baggage from that experience. This season he will still be reeling from that, still figuring out how to cope, while channeling that energy into something productive that can hopefully prevent other people from going through the same thing.

What did you learn about the work and role of Black male detectives in portraying Dante?

Every character is uniquely its own, with its own backstory. I’ve played detectives before, but it’s not like Papania from True Detective came from the same place as Dante from The Equalizer. There are certain technical aspects that may overlap, but playing a detective in New Orleans is very different than doing so in New York. The environment is different, the communities are different, so you have to approach them differently. It’s all about the specifics of the story, that’s where you find the nuance. The commonality being, no matter where you are, the job is “to protect and serve” that community.

Dante has dealt with situations many Black men have faced, can you speak about how the series deals with that and maybe your own personal experience with it? How have you applied your personal experience to your portrayal of Dante?

I think actors act from the essence of who they are, and as James Baldwin put it, “We are our history”. Everything that I’ve been through or observed or learned or survived is a part of me, and I think that history somehow manages to seep into every performance. The discipline, or craft, along with the research, is trusting the material, trusting who you are, and getting out of the way of yourself to let the story come through. The truth is I can’t tell you how this exactly happens, but experience has taught me to trust the process, and our show-runners (Joe Wilson and Adam Glass) and writers are so dialed into the ethos of the culture, society, and storytelling that all I really have to do is learn the script.

How has playing Dante and also working with Queen Latifah helped you grow as an actor?

Queen Latifah is one of the most brilliant people I’ve ever been blessed to be around. Whether on-screen or off, I’m always learning from her. She has a wealth of knowledge. We’re constantly challenging each other, uncovering dimensions within Dante and Robyn’s relationship. We’ve only just begun to scratch the surface of where we can go.

What direction would you like to see Dante go in as the season progresses?

I’m looking forward to the possibility of seeing Dante’s father again and how he will fit into Dante’s life. What three different generations of Black men being together could mean for him, his kids, and his father. We may also see Dante’s ex coming back into the picture, after getting a taste of what it could mean to have the family together again. What kind of conflicts might that create for him, and for his relationship with Robyn? Because everything comes with a cost, even family.

Photo: Michael Greenberg/CBS


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