‘The Equalizer’s Queen Latifah on Working With Chris Noth & Robyn’s Team

Q&A
Barbara Nitke/CBS
Queen Latifah as Robyn McCall

Justice has a new face. Queen Latifah stars in the action-packed thriller The Equalizer, a reboot of the 1985–89 crowdpleaser led by Edward Woodward. The Oscar nominee makes the title role her own as Robyn McCall, a skilled ex-CIA agent who finds, shall we say, creative ways to ensure the down and out are treated fairly when the system fails them.

“This is a chance for viewers to say, ‘Yeah. One for the little guy,'” says Latifah.

Robyn is still tight with her former boss and mentor, the well-connected William Bishop (Chris Noth), and is raising a teen daughter, Delilah (Laya DeLeon Hayes), with help from her Aunt Vi (Lorraine Toussaint). The actress, producer, singer, and rapper took a break from shooting to chat.

Your father was a police officer. How did your personal experience shape this character?

Queen Latifah: I learned from him, “Stick up for people who can’t look out for themselves.” I have a female police officer cousin — I represent her when I go out there. We show the positive sides of what’s supposed to be done.

Who gives Robyn her first case?

[A young girl] who happens to be in the right place at the wrong time. Not only is her life in danger, but she has [college] goals that she’s so close to, it would be a shame for her not to achieve them. McCall is able to do something about that.

Chris Noth The Equalizer William Bishop

Barbara Nitke/CBS

Tell us about working with Law & Order vet Chris Noth.

The chemistry between us as actors has been fantastic. Bishop flies at 35,000 feet, in the circles of people who make the big decisions and do a lot of the things nobody knows about. He can tell Robyn, “You might be going too far” or “You should watch your back.”

Does she have anyone else to help do that?

She does things in very smart ways, but she doesn’t do it alone. She’s a team-oriented person. She works with smart, quirky funny people — like a sniper [Liza Lapira, NCIS].

Edward Woodward in the 1980s The Equalizer (Universal TV/courtesy Everett Collection)

Is there any romance ahead?

McCall will have her needs and attractions, and she’ll need love at some point too. She’s so good professionally. Personally, she has to develop.

The Equalizer, Series Premiere, Sunday, February 7, Following Super Bowl LV, CBS