Hollywood Notebook: Priyanka Chopra gets physical for ‘Quantico,’ Lorraine Toussaint back at morgue in ‘Rosewood’

At Quantico, the recruits are tasked with performing a hostage rescue training exercise that shakes Alex (Priyanka Chopra), making her question her ability and whether she should quit.
At Quantico, the recruits are tasked with performing a hostage rescue training exercise that shakes Alex (Priyanka Chopra), making her question her ability and whether she should quit. ABC

One of ABC’s biggest successes so far this fall has been the new drama “Quantico.”

Audiences are attracted to lead actress Priyanka Chopra who was cast in her first American TV series. The stunning actress is well known around the world, where she is a recording artist, former Miss World, model, and does charity work as an UNICEF Goodwill Ambassador.

Chopra was working in India when she was approached about doing a series for ABC. What attracted her to “Quantico” was getting to play a top FBI recruit who gets accused of the biggest terrorist attack since 9/11.

“The only thing I had said to ABC was that I wanted to do a show which gave me the respect of being an actor instead of casting me for the color of my skin or what I looked like or where I come from,” she says.

Chopra went to school in the United States. When the Indian actress would watch TV, she didn’t see much diversity. Chopra sees starring in the ABC series as a way to change that.

“Any actress from any part of the world who wants to be good at their job would want to play Alex Parrish. She’s Jason Bourne in female form. So it’s an amazing part, and I really wanted to be a part of the show,” Chopra says.

It wasn’t until she showed up for work that Chopra realized exactly how physically demanding the series was going to be.

“I’ve done a bunch of action movies before, so I’m familiar with it. So that really helped. But, I’m training with the team and the rest of the cast. We have a whole lot of action sequences, running, so you have to be extremely physically fit, stamina,” Chopra says. “We have to obviously look like FBI agents. So the training has been a big part of doing the show. And while we shoot 15 hour days, which I had no idea we had to do, at the same time we’re also trying to train whenever we can.”

More death

Lorraine Toussaint seems to be attracted to TV shows about life and death.

Before being cast as the mother of Morris Chestnut’s character in the new FOX series “Rosewood,” a show about a Miami pathologist who finds secrets in dead bodies, she was on “Forever,” the short-lived ABC series about a 200-year-old man who works in the New York City morgue.

Toussaint got a call from “Rosewood” executive producer Todd Harthan just after “Forever” had been canceled. She liked the story and had always wanted to work with Chestnut.

“I’ve heard such lovely things about him. And that character that he described, that mother, that fierce, loving, 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 I’m very I was hungry to play,” Toussaint says. “Because that’s who I am in my body, in my life right now, is big love. AndI wanted to love big in my work, too.”

It’s a little surprising there are roles left that Toussaint hasn’t played. She’s been working on TV since the early 80s starring in “Where I Live,” “Amazing Grace,” “Leaving L.A.” and “Any Day Now.”

All those credits have given her one important rule about selecting a role.

“I also wanted to make sure I was with kind people. Because you get to a point where kindness in the workplace means the world. And that was the big question that I asked,” Toussaint says.

To prepare for “Forever,” and then Rosewood, Toussaint watched a couple of autopsies. Her character doesn’t cut up dead bodies on the show, but she’s around them.

“Actually, we’re way more state of the art than the L.A. County Morgue is, for example,” Toussaint says.

Other news

Sound off: VH1 will bring its entire 2015 “You Oughta Know” class of artists together on one stage for a night of music with “VH1 Big Music in 2015: You Oughta Know” airing at 6 p.m. Nov. 12 from The Armory Foundation in New York. Since its launch in 2005, the franchise has introduced new artists on the rise and serves as a barometer for what and who’s hot on the music scene today.

I don’t: Celebrity divorce attorney and expert mediator Vikki Ziegler travels the country using her distinct brand of honest, empathetic and to-the-point communication to help couples “divorce with dignity” through mediation on Bravo’s “Untying the Knot” airing at 10 p.m. Nov. 8. The eight-episode series expands to an hour-long format as Ziegler works with divorcing couples who are deadlocked in divvying up their most-prized possessions ranging from the family pet pig to a Lamborghini.

Rick Bentley: 559-441-6355, @RickBentley1