Lorraine Toussaint finally fulfills a dream come true with her turn on Into the Badlands season 3. Read on to find out what we can expect from newcomer Cressida.
If you don’t know who Lorraine Toussaint is, IMDb will be quick to tell you she’s held numerous television roles on shows like Orange is the New Black, Friday Night Lights, and quite the stint on Law & Order. She also featured in Selma and was just in the not-so-surprise hit Girls Trip.
Now, Toussaint is taking on a different kind of role as Cressida for AMC’s Into the Badlands. I spoke with her about why she wanted to join the show, what we can expect from this mysterious new character, and whether or not she and Pilgrim can fill Quinn’s shoes after his death. (Something I already speculated about myself.)
What follows is a transcription of our conversation, slightly edited for optimum clarity.
What drew you to the role of Cressida?
The genre was the first thing. I have secretly harbored a real desire to be in this kind of genre. I’m a total sci-fi, futuristic, fantasy geek, and so I tend to read all of the fantasy series. I’ve been begging my reps to please get me into Outlander or The Walking Dead, you know, all of the greats. I’m a big Dune freak. I read all the Anne Rice books. I love those worlds. So about a year ago, I said I’m done playing lawyers, doctors, police chiefs, heads of the CIA. I’m done! I want to play something really weird and wonderful, and so they’ve been on the lookout for unusual shows and unusual roles in them, so when this one came up, it seemed like a bit of an adventure, which is what I was looking for.
I might be a little biased, but I think you made the right call. This is a fantastic show.
I’m a little biased myself! I couldn’t agree with you more.
What was it like joining the cast of this show in its third season after so much had already happened in season 1 and 2?
It was relatively easy because the Pilgrim storyline, of which I’m a part, was so outside of the realm of the Badlands that the audience has come to know that it’s really lent itself to a quality of reinvention that didn’t necessarily have to comply with previously established rules of the Badlands, the feudal system of the Badlands. We are going to turn all of that upside down anyway. We come in with this massive tribe of earth people with abilities that no one has seen before in the Badlands. We really are an entity unto itself unlike anything you’ve seen, so what went before almost didn’t apply to us. And because of our extraordinary arrogance with which we come into the Badlands, which is also very Badlands, we just decided that none of those rules apply to us anyway. So, with that level of hubris in tow, we’re all fine. We were not at all daunted by what the Badlands folks could do because we were bringing some shit that was like, Oh my God! What the hell is that? That was kind of easy.
Coming into an established acting company, everyone here was so incredibly gracious and lovely and welcoming and open to us. It was a very easy entry. I can’t say enough about that. They were just lovely.
Pilgrim and Cressida appear to be very different antagonists to Quinn, but in a way they do have some shoes to fill. How do you think they stack up next to him?
You’ll have to tell me! I think we do just fine. Don’t get me wrong — oh my god, I loved Quinn. But — and not even but — what we bring to the Badlands is truly apples and oranges. You will find the intensity in no way diminished at all. If we do match anything, at least match, is the intensity of the position that role held in the first and second seasons. We don’t let you down. Not at all.
Awesome! And we see Pilgrim interact with several characters in the trailer, but Cressida always appears to be operating in the background. What sort of interactions can you tease us with, especially with the main cast?
I love hearing that because that’s intentional. Cressida’s primary allegiance is to Pilgrim. She has no other agenda for herself other than in service him achieving their agenda. What she sees as their agenda, she’s very much a Machiavellian kind of Lady Macbeth kind of presence, always right off his shoulder. Because Cressida is a seer and a prophetess, what she brings to the table is an otherworldly awareness of his opponents and situations. She can see a bit into the future. She can anticipate things that are coming his way. She can see through people, literally and figuratively. She’s a very interesting weapon in his arsenal. She’s also emotionally influential and can sway him one way or the other in pursuit of their agenda. She intentionally stays just behind his shoulder, close to his ear, and doesn’t actively interact with very many of the other characters. But she is fully involved with all of the exchanges that happen. She’s an interesting girl, that Cressida. It’s a complicated relationship between she and Pilgrim. It’s a very complicated relationship between the two of them.
One of my favorite things about this show is the aesthetic, and it looks like Pilgrim and Cressida certainly bring their own splash of color to this world. Can you talk a little bit about your look and whether or not you were involved in that process at all?
Oh, we certainly bring color to it, literally and figuratively. We bring fanaticism. We bring a zealous kind of religious dogma to the Badlands. It’s very hard to reason with religious zealots, and the kind of religion and belief and faith that we bring and demand of other in the Badlands — it’s not like we give people very many options, it’s follow us or die — on some level that quality is very, very vibrant. The aesthetics of it. I love what they’ve done. That’s our designer Giovanni and very much Miles, our creator. They are very involved in the visual aesthetics of who and what we are. But, my gosh, we have a wonderful team of hair people and makeup artists, and that part of it was incredibly fun because I felt very, very, very much a part of the creation of Cressida, the look of her, the tattoos, the makeup, the design. There’s a real physical aesthetic to her. She’s got quite a lot of ink and she’s got scarifications and she’s got the hair elements. I felt very much a part of the creation of that. We’ve got a very specific look.
Do you have a favorite episode or a favorite moment this season that we can look forward to?
I do! My favorite moment in this season are the moments when you glimpse Pilgrim and Cressida behind closed doors, when they are being absolutely candid with each other when no one is looking. You really get a glimpse into the dynamics of these two people. And I hope that it is as fascinating to watch as it was to do. I think you’ll be surprised at who they ultimately are behind closed doors. They’ve definitely got a public persona and a private persona.
I know you’ve talked a little bit about this already, but as a final teaser, overall, what can we expect from Cressida this season?
That’s a really good question! I think you’ll be surprised by a level of vulnerability that you would not think is present, and I think there are moments where it may surprise the audience. Cressida is totally badass, and she does not shy away from the task at hand, which is taking over the world, or standing behind Pilgrim as he takes over the world. We certainly plan to rule the world of the Badlands and beyond. So we’ll see how we get on with that. We’ll see how that works out!
Well, thank you so much for taking the time to talk to me today. I’m really looking forward to season 3 and especially to see what Cressida brings to the table. I think it’s going to be awesome.
Me too! I’m really please and proud of this piece of work because it’s spontaneous and surprised me. There are moments on set where I surprised myself, which I always love. I look forward to seeing it too!
‘Into the Badlands’ season 3 returns Sunday, April 22 at 10:00 p.m. ET on AMC
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