Between Robyn retaining custody of her daughter and Harry reconnecting with a side of his mother he hardly knew, tonight’s episode of The Equalizer was all about family. Season 3, episode 11 was titled “Never Again” and saw Harry Keshegian (played by Adam Goldberg) on the ground investigating the recent hate crimes against a local Jewish community. Upon stumbling into his old Rabbi, he starts to see his mother’s abandonment in a different light and learns that she was protecting him rather than forgetting about him.
The Equalizer season 3 has spent time getting to know its characters and their family backgrounds in new and unexpected ways, including Robyn (Queen Latifah) and Delilah (Laya DeLeon Hayes) redefining their family unit with Aunt Vi (Lorraine Toussaint) and Mel (Liza Lapira)’s brother raising the stakes for her in a previous episode. This week was Harry’s turn to confront his Jewish heritage and how his mother’s absence marked his life.
Screen Rant spoke to Goldberg about how it feels to learn new things about his character three seasons into The Equalizer, what he hopes is next for Harry and Mel, and which has been his favorite case thus far.
Adam Goldberg on The Equalizer
Screen Rant: We’re getting to see more personal stories dovetail with cases this year, between Mel’s brother and now Harry’s family. What’s it like for you to get to know Harry better in season 3?
Adam Goldberg: It’s really helpful. Honestly, irrespective of what I end up doing in the subsequent episodes, it just gives you a much stronger foundation on which to think about how you’re going to do something, or how you’re going to say something.
With any TV show, whether it’s a procedural or not, it’s a very weird way of working as an actor. You read a movie, and you’re working through the entire script. You know where this character is going, and you understand who he is. In television, you could find out in the third season of the series that you’re Jewish. I didn’t know [Henry] was Jewish until this year; I’m half-Jewish and am identified largely as Jewish.
Then, obviously, we learn more about his faith and family, and that sort of thing. All of that is what you always want as an actor. It is funny, though, when it shows up three seasons down the line.
That’s so interesting, that you were able to influence Harry’s history even a little bit.
Adam Goldberg: He’s got this Armenian last name, but we finally learn in this episode that he grew up largely with his father after his mother abandoned him — or that’s how he views it.
But there are a lot of parallels, in terms of how I’ve grappled with being considered a Jewish actor. Even going back to my own childhood, I went to Jewish Day School until I was 11 years old and chose not to have a bar mitzvah, which was my suggestion when I talked to the writers. The Rabbi [originally] said, “I haven’t seen you since your bar mitzvah,” and I said, “It might be interesting if he didn’t have a bar mitzvah.” You go right up to the point, and then you back away. That’s sort of how I was.
One positive takeaway is that, in an effort to defend myself and my people on social media, I have really come to own that part of my DNA and learn an incredible amount about how bats–t insane you know these conspiracy theories about Jewish people are. That just seemed abstract and comical to me in the past, but then you see these people taking them as gospel. It’s pretty wild, and it’s deep.
Another part of Harry’s story that is really interesting is how his relationship to his mother and her perceived abandonment affected his view of the community and of himself. Now that he knows the truth, do you think that’s going to change moving forward?
Adam Goldberg: I don’t know. It would certainly be nice if he re-engages with that community in some way, and it’s not a one-off. I honestly can’t speak to that, as I’m just a pawn in this massive chess game that is television. But I think it reminds me a little bit of the perception that we all have of our childhood; those screen memories that we decide are the things which define us. And I know, even just through having kids, how things are just more complex and subtle than we could have imagined.
Harry doesn’t have kids, and that’s not how he learns about his mom, but having kids has made me a lot more sensitive to parental motivation. When I was a kid, I just thought, “Oh, my parents are doing this or that again.” But it’s just not that simple, obviously.
Speaking of kids, we all love Harry and Mel. Are kids in their future, or are there any other aspects of their personal life you’d like to see?
Adam Goldberg: That would be fun and weird. Better get on that, or free some eggs or something, if that’s gonna happen. [Laughs] The clock is definitely ticking. All these episodes are ticking clock episodes, so maybe they should do one [about that].
I love their moments in this episode, like at the comic book store when she’s ribbing him about his nerdy interests. Wouldn’t it be nice to see what they do on a day off? If McCall really called it quits, what do you think they’d do?
Adam Goldberg: When they first liberated me from the sanctum where I do most of my work somewhere at the end of the first season or beginning of the second, I thought, “We’re gonna see these two on a date.” But, of course, our date nights are all off-camera.
Liza [Lapira] and I are always joking about a spin-off. There are days that we spend the entire day together, and we’re completely giddy and hysterical by the end. We’re basically doing a whole side sitcom, which will never make it on air before and after the actual tape. The crew probably gets to see in a gag reel, but there’s a parallel universe where their relationship exists. And it’s pretty fun, I think.I love that.
I love that you’re kind of the guy behind the chair, while the ladies are the ones on the front line. How does that dynamic play out for you?
Adam Goldberg: For me, it’s much more relaxing than I’m sure their days are. [Laughs] I keep saying that this show has kept my brain and neurons really facile at the age where that stuff could really start to take a turn. Because I just have to process such an insane amount of information, and then disseminate it, any given day that I go to work.
But it’s also been nice that this last season I get to sort of go undercover and get to be a little bit more of a support system, physically speaking. But if someone’s coming at us, we know who’s going to take them down. Both as an actor and as a person who’s all for women’s rights. I find it to be very luxurious.
The fandom for The Equalizer seems to be a lot of fun, and you’re no stranger to fandom feedback. What have been some of your favorite fan interactions in your television career?
Adam Goldberg: First of all, I quit Twitter after having been on it for quite a long time. It was a pretty gnarly place for me, anyway, and it would take me down the rabbit hole of what this episode is about.
I see some stuff on Instagram, but nothing will be as crazy to me as when I was doing Fargo. That was an intense, wild fandom with cool, weird fanfiction. Me and Russell [Harvard] were boyfriend and boyfriend, with incredible illustrations. I didn’t know that world existed because, for a long time, the internet didn’t exist.
I did the show Relativity early into my career, and I remember Jane Adams was telling me, as they were canceling the show, that there was a whole Save Our show thing. “You can go on this web page,” and I didn’t know what the hell she was talking about. They were sending soup cans with my character Doug on them to ABC, and I didn’t understand any of that.
Prior to the internet and social media, I guess it was more like you saw people at airports with your headshot and stuff, but it’s really neat that people can now engage that way.
Of course, The Equalizer is still a procedural. Do you have a favorite case from this season, past or upcoming?
Adam Goldberg: Look, I’m gonna be 100% honest with you. I I can’t tell where one begins and the other ends. I shot an entire episode in a day, and it was on the heels of an entire other episode. I show this stuff to my wife, and she’s like, “How can you keep it straight?”
But one of the fun things already aired, which is I when I go undercover as “normal guy.” We are now calling him normal guy. I don’t know if you know this, but I dress myself. Everything you see me wear comes from my clothes. There was this one episode where I have to go undercover as a food inspector, and the line was, “Do you have a sports jacket?” It was supposed to just be me in a sports jacket and a badge. I was like, “I want to do a members only [jacket], a tie with khaki pants, and bad sneakers. We put this outfit together, and I did this voice.
De Niro apparently said many years ago that he gets into character by putting on their shoes, literally. And that’s what happened with that particular scene. Joe [C. Wilson, the showrunner,] and I started referring to him as Normal Guy, and I love Normal Guy. We’ve got to do more stuff with Normal Guy.
About The Equalizer
An enigmatic figure who uses her extensive skills to help those with nowhere else to turn. Robyn McCall, an enigmatic woman with a mysterious background, uses her extensive skills to help those with nowhere else to turn.
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The Equalizer airs Sundays at 8pm ET/PT on CBS.