Interview: Morris Chestnut, Rosewood

Rosewood - Series 1 - Generic - Picture Shows: Morris Chestnut as  Dr. Beaumont Rosewood, Jr.

A new American procedural starts on Alibi next week. Rosewood is fast-paced, glossy, light and very watchable, and features actor Morris Chestnut (Nurse Jackie, Legends) taking on the lead role of brilliant and brash Miami-based private pathologist Dr Beaumont Rosewood. He (almost) meets his match when he starts working with Detective Annalise Villa in Miami Homicide, and there’s is a sparky relationship. I managed to catch up with Morris when he visited London a few weeks ago, and the words that came out of his mouth are over the jump.

The Killing Times: Tell us about Rosewood…
Morris Chestnut: Rosewood is a light-hearted drama that blends comedy and drama in each episode. It’s a procedural show with serialised elements: each show will have a case that opens and closes in each episode, but there’s a thread that goes through it that blends in other storylines throughout the rest of the season.

TKT: Rosie, as he’s known to his friends in the show, is an interesting character – he’s super-smooth, he’s super-confident, but… he’s got this potentially fatal, congenital heart condition. Why does he surround himself with death?
MC: He’s not really surrounding himself with death; he feels he is helping people deal with death. One of his missions in life is to impose his optimism on people who are dealing with dark situations. He knows he has a chronic illness himself and he’s had to deal with that for most of his life. The reason why he’s a private pathologist is because he’s trying to help these families who don’t have any closure.

TKT: So it’s not an odd, macabre thing where he has to constantly remind himself of death and his condition?
MC: He very much knows what his situation is and he’s been dealing with it for a very long time. There was going to be one episode in particular where it’s very sobering for him because he actually has to perform an autopsy on someone who had the same illness as he has.

TKT: With clean living and a cocktail of different drugs, he’s on top of things, but does this balancing act and knowing that death may not be very far away give him a super-confidence perhaps he wouldn’t have if he didn’t have this illness? 
MC: Right, because he realises that it could end at any moment. So he does live every day like it’s his last day. He doesn’t take life for granted, for sure.

TKT: The driving force of the show is his relationship with Villa, which is sparkly and there’s a major frisson there, too. Can you talk about their relationship?
MC: Rosie and Villa have a very interesting dynamic: he likes her, she doesn’t like him. That how things starts off, at least. His optimism and charm are somewhat effective so he grows on her through the course of the season. When she comes onto the show she’s very guarded because she’s had a tough couple of years and she’s not showing her feelings or emotions. It’s a really tough, strong veneer he has to break through, and he breaks through and express certain things to each other. Everything comes to a head in the finale.

TKT: I’m interested in sense of place in crime dramas, and Miami is the backdrop to this series. Can you tell us what the city brings to the show?
MC: Filming there was a lot of fun. And that’s the thing about to Miami. You have South Beach , where you’ll find an abundance of gorgeous people wearing not a lot of clothing, and doing a lot of partying. But, if you drive, say, six miles away from that, you come to an area where there’s a lot of poverty, crime and danger. So you have an interesting dichotomy of so much life and vitality and then a lot of bad things happening.

TKT: Rosie’s deduction techniques remind me a lot of Sherlock Holmes. Is he the Afro-Caribbean Sherlock?
MC: I’ll take it! Well, y’know. I can’t say that, but I will say that he does have a little bit of Sherlock Holmes in him and a little bit of Columbo, too. He has a little bit of everybody in him!

Rosewood: Tuesday 26th July, 8pm, Alibi



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