Blood isn’t always thicker than water, sometimes it’s your chosen family who comes through when you need them more than those blood relatives.
After 10 years of fighting to share The Last Days of Ptolemy Grey, Samuel L. Jackson previously told Shadow and Act that he had a hard nonnegotiable – the character of Robyn was to remain a relative of Ptolemy, but not by blood.
Robyn, portrayed by Dominique Fishback, who recently had all eyes on her in Judas & The Black Messiah, is the teen orphan taken in by Ptolemy despite his failing memory. Although she is far younger than him, their lives parallel in the sense that she too has lived a life that has been just as turbulent — yet they both provide each other with the stability that they both need.
Fishback admits that morphing into this challenge was not how she anticipated it would be.
“Normally I like to journal as my characters and then for this particular project, I don’t know why, but I had a lot of resistance, I couldn’t really do it,” she told Shadow and Act in a recent interview.
“And I felt like she was saying, ‘because I don’t do that, you can do whatever you want with some other character, but I don’t do that,’ ” she continued. “Since I’m a writer by nature and I love to research and put analogies and bring things together that’s what I went for, but instead I said, ‘OK, and I also read the script and the book – I love the book.”
She further reveals that the book shed light on some parts of her character that weren’t in the script.
“I know we can’t bring everything to the show, but there were certain things that I couldn’t let go of,” Fishback recalled. “So I said, ‘if I’m going to sell this to Sam and Walter, I’m going to put this PDF together with pictures, quotes from the book and examples as to how it fits their relationship.’ The scar that she has is one that I came up with because I said, ‘what is something on her body that you can see that says “don’t mess with me,” without having to say it.’ We want to believe it and actually want to see it without the words so it was really important that I broke this character down, tried to find out what her dreams were, and came up with this idea because her name was Robyn, and robins fly, but if she took a plane it wouldn’t be far enough to get away from the traumas of her past, so what if she was an astronaut? What if she can leave Earth without having to leave the Earth? She found that in Ptolemy.”
While 'The Last Days of Ptolemy Grey' taught Fishback a lot about her character, she explains that she also learned a lot about herself in the process.
“I do think that my characters give me healing, they always do before I even know it, even the same thing [happened] with Project Power and getting that kind of like fatherly figure with Jamie and then getting to work with Sam in like this kind of grandfather role,” she shared. “My grandpa died when I was young, so I didn’t have that male figure. It’s a lot of women in my family and to be taken under the wing of these giants, these Black male giants is really cool and Robyn gave me that.”
New episodes of The Last Days of Ptolemy Grey drop on Apple TV+ each and every Friday.