“Always remind yourself that each day is a gift.” Those are the words spoken by Dr. Beaumont Rosewood—played by Morris Chestnut as he steps into his first leading television role on Fox’s upcoming procedural cop drama, Rosewood.
Watching Chestnut run alongside a picturesque beach shirtless against a Miami backdrop (as he does in the shows trailer) could actually be considered a gift to throngs of women. His staunchest female followers have tracked his ascent to sex symbol status ever since he snapped towels in the locker room montage scene in his first film, 1991’s Boyz n the Hood, where he so eloquently played Ricky Baker.
For Rosewood, Chestnut stars as Miami’s top private pathologist. He partners with detective Annalise Villa (Jaina Ortiz) to uncover clues no one else sees, assisting the Miami PD to solve the city’s most challenging cases. He’s also suffered from serious health issues his entire life, giving him a unique perspective on death.
While this may be Morris’s first television lead, he’s no stranger to TV doctors. He had an arc on ER back in the day, but that isn’t where he picked up his medical chops. “I mean, ER was such a long time ago and I was a patient there,” he said during a recent Fox television press tour. “I was on Nurse Jackie as a doctor, so I picked up a lot playing a doctor on Nurse Jackie. Bones I was on also. I wasn’t a doctor and talking in any type of medical terms on that show, but I learned a lot from Nurse Jackie.”
Rosewood isn’t done giving gifts. Another comes in the form of the ridiculously talented and award-winning actress Lorraine Toussaint, who’ll portray Donna Rosewood, the stalwartly matriarch of the Rosewood clan who’s about to undergo mysterious life changes that will affect her children profoundly.
Procedural cop dramas run the gamut on network and cable television. But what sets Rosewood apart from the rest is clearly its diverse cast. Evidently Fox has taken notice of its ratings monster, Empire—proof positive of how diversity can pull in viewership.
This was exceptionally appealing to Toussaint when considering the role. “One of the questions I asked when we first started was, what does the writing room like? That’s very telling. And when you meet the writers, the diversity is in that room! It’s Black, White, Latino, straight, gay. [Creator Todd Harthan] really got that right. I’ve read a lot of scripts. These are some of the best hour-long scripts I’ve ever seen.”
These are big words coming from someone who recently received a SAG award for her explosive stint on the hit show Orange Is the New Black. Which begs the question: why did Toussaint want to move in this direction?
“I’ve been playing a lot of procedural bosses or psychopaths. They have something in common. Todd called—Forever had just been canceled—and asked if I would join his company. I’d seen the pilot, and of course I’ve always wanted to work with Morris. I’ve heard such lovely things about him. And that character that he described, that mother, that fierce love, straight-talking, heart-open mother that is about to move into a place in her life of extraordinary vulnerability—that was a character that I hadn’t played before and was hungry to play. Because that’s who I am in my body, in my life right now, is big love. And I wanted to love big in my work too.”
So if you’re keeping track, Lorraine Toussaint is playing Morris Chestnut’s mother. Without revealing a lady’s age, she’s only about eight years older than her TV son in real life. Will it be revealed that she was a teenage mother?
“No darling, it’s just gonna be Black don’t crack,” she answers bluntly. “The Black community, sometimes it’s very difficult to tell who’s who and what’s what because we age well. And when we bring Morris’s dad into the picture, I suspect that he will actually anchor age.”
From the looks of it, Rosewood plans to take viewers on a wild ride. On the one hand, creator Todd Harthan describes it as a fun, loose guy show with Morris being an internally optimistic character. It’s supposed to be “an incredibly fun show that feels like you’re having a cocktail on the beach in each episode.” However, it will be layered with family drama. Harthan says, “Once the audience starts to get comfortable with how smooth the show is going, it’s going to throw a curveball and hit audiences with a raw dramatic moment.”
Morris sums it up this way: “One thing I love about this show: what Todd is doing is that all of these characters have depth and are layered, and you’ll see as you watch the future episodes that this is not the “Rosewood” show. It may be the title, Rosewood, but it’s really about all of our characters. Everyone’s character on this show is going to have depth. They’re going to have some serious things going on. So that’s what I’m proud of.”
Rosewood premieres September 23 on Fox.
Crystal Shaw King is a seasoned TV, radio and online entertainment writer. She’s also a contributing editor for a social justice foundation in Los Angeles. Follow her on Twitter @crystalamberbam.