We sat down with Torrance Coombs to chat about his new role as Count Paris, working on a Shonda Rhimes show, and working in Shakespeare’s world.
The story of Romeo and Juliet never gets old. Especially for actors like Torrance Coombs who have a lot of experience with historical dramas. With roles on shows such as The Tudors and most recently a long stint on Reign, a Shakespearean show seems like a likely next step for him. Throw in that he’s playing Count Paris on a Shonda Rhimes show, and the recipe for success is inevitable.
Let’s talk about this fun new show that you’re on, Still Star-Crossed. TORRANCE COOMBS: The story essentially begins where Romeo and Juliet ends. The Montagues and Capulets have a deep rivalry that go back a ways and it doesn’t end when Romeo and Juliet do. There’s mounting tension in the city Verona and there’s a power struggle going on. Then there’s a fairly young Princess Escalus trying to manage it all. Where I enter is, I play Count Paris. Originally, in the story of Romeo and Juliet, he’s engaged to marry Juliet and that’s thwarted when she secretly marries Romeo and then Romeo and him get into a little sword fight. He’s killed but our show supposes that he survives his wounds and isn’t too happy about the way things went down.
What can we expect from Count Paris on the show? TC: He had a plan in place. He had a secret plot that he was working on that involved marrying into the Capulets so he hasn’t exactly abandoned that plan just because Juliet is dead. He’s cooking some things up. Before he was motivated politically but now there’s some emotion involved and his ego is a bit bruised as well.
Did you study Shakespeare when you were starting as an actor? TC: I got my start doing theater and my first professional job was actually at a Shakespeare festival in Western Canada called Bard on the Beach. I did about four plays there and none of them were Romeo and Juliet but I am intimately familiar with the story. I do come from that background and that world so it was pretty comfortable settling into this.
Do you think that started the whole trend of you being in all of these historical TV shows such as The Tudors and then Reign? TC: You know, I can’t pinpoint any one thing. When I was in theater school, I did a production of Tom Stoppard’s Arcadia and that’s where I learned to do the English accent. I was doing dialect classes and I had a coach. It has a way of getting drilled into you, just developing an ear for it. Or at least I did. And then when The Tudors happened, I already kind of had the accent in my back pocket ready to go which definitely helped.
And it’s also a Shonda Rhimes show. What was it like for you to find out when you got cast on the show? TC: I couldn’t believe my luck because obviously she’s got a reputation for producing TV that people love. It’s always cool to be a part of something like that. And the fact that the genre of the show was kind of in my wheelhouse based on the kinds of things I’ve been doing the last two years so it was a pretty comfortable transition coming out of Reign.