*We caught up with actor Lance Gross to dish about the season finale of the hit FOX music series “Star,” and how his “beast” of a character, Maurice Jetter, will be at the center of some explosive drama that Gross says will be quite “exciting” because “I got a lot up my sleeve.”
“You’re going to find out what really happens to Maurice in the season finale,” he tells EUR/Electronic Urban Report. “So you wanna tune in and watch!”
Gross is best known for his roles on “Sleepy Hollow,” “Grey’s Anatomy,” and “Tyler Perry’s House of Payne. On “Star,” he plays the head of A&R at the fictional record label Midtown Sound, where singers Star (Jude Demorest), Simone (Brittany O’Grady) and Alex (Ryan Destiny) continue to navigate the music business with their manager, Carlotta (Queen Latifah).
Check out our spoiler-free Q&A with Mr. Gross about the “Star” season 2 finale below.
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What can you tease fans about tonight’s finale and how Maurice fits into drama?
LG: You don’t want to miss it. There’s a lot going on in this finale. For Maurice, he has this spider web that he’s creating and really, he’s just an ambitious guy. He wants the best for the artists, even if that’s not what the fans want. He sees potential in Star and he wants to turn her into a megastar. He wants to win. He’s the A&R of Midtown Sound but he wants to run Midtown Sound. So that’s the kind of focus that he has. He wants the best for the artists and that happens to be Star. He has big plans for Star. He just released her diss record and you’re gonna find out how the girls react to this diss record. You’re going to find out what really happens to Maurice in this season finale. So you wanna tune in and watch. It’s going to be exciting.
Are you able to say whether you’re coming back next season?
LG: You will see on this finale whether or not. You’re in for a treat. I can’t give it away. I got a lot up my sleeve.
Would you say Maurice is the kind of guy that enjoys stirring the pot of drama with the group?
LG: He kinda gets a kick out of it but he doesn’t mean to create the drama. It’s just that he wants to win and he’s going to do whatever it is in his power to make that happen, and drama just finds him.
How do you prepare to play the head of A&R of a record label? Is there anything about Maurice that’s based on real-life industry players?
LG: Yes! But I’m not going to name any names. I have a lot of friends that are in the music industry and in A&R, so I silently watch my friends. I don’t let them know that I’m doing research. I pulled from a lot of people in the industry — a lot of stories that I’ve heard. As an artist, that’s what we do. We observe and we watch. But yeah, it’s heavily based on actual people in the game.
You joined the cast for the second season, so what’s it like to come into a show with a cast that’s already clicking?
LG: I’ll relate it to the NBA. It feels like joining the winning team. I feel fortunate to be added to the cast. As an actor, it makes you bring your A-game that much more when you’re working with veterans like Benjamin (Bratt) and Queen (Latifah) and even the new people. They inspire me. I was already a fan of Star so when I joined the team I was like, “Okay, I gotta be ready. I gotta come with it every day.” It’s such an exciting experience and just a fun set to work on, and so many people are talented beyond acting, whether it’s music or whatever it is they do on the side. It’s fun to be around and it makes you bring your A-game.
Speaking of working with a legend like Queen Latifah…
LG: Dana has been a friend for a while. I was in a movie that her company produced called Deuces, so we’ve known each other for a while. We also did Steel Magnolias the remake together, so just coming on for Star, it was a great opportunity. Since she’s already a friend, it made the work a little bit easier because we had that rapport. She’s a legend and I love working with her and I hope I get to work with her a lot more on other projects, and also Star. It feels good to work with a legend.
As you reflect on this season, what have you enjoyed most about exploring the world of Maurice Jetter?
LG: He’s a hard worker and that’s all I know. I only know how to work hard. I give it my all and I’m not afraid of the work. It’s fun because he’s darker than the nice guy that I’m used to playing. If you ask any fan, every fan hates Maurice because he’s not afraid to break up the girls. It’s all about him and it’s fun to play someone like that because that’s the opposite of me. I care about everybody. But Maurice, he’s very ambitious and he doesn’t care whose feelings he’s hurt as long as it gets him the win.
Would you agree that Maurice represents the ugly side of the music industry?
LG: Absolutely. He’s a beast. If you got talent he will help. If you don’t, he won’t. He doesn’t care about a group. If there’s a Beyonce in the group, he’s gon’ make that Beyonce shine. And that’s how he feels about Star.
You’ve worked with two powerhouses in Black Hollywood, Tyler Perry and Lee Daniels. Have either given you any resonating advice that has helped shape your professional life?
LG: It’s not about them actually speaking it to me. I’m an observer so for Tyler Perry and working for him for years, I just always took notice of his work ethic. It’s like, when does he sleep? Because he writes, he directs, he produces, and more. I remember he invited 20 of us on vacation to his private island and we’re on vacation but he’s still writing and working — no breaks. So I took that from him: I’ll sleep when I’m dead. I’m just going to work hard and pursue my career and give it my all and that’s the life I live now. That’s the biggest thing I took from Tyler Perry.
Lastly, whats next for Lance Gross?
LG: I’m also a photographer, that’s my hobby on the side, and I got the opportunity to team up with Essence and MACRO and I did my first digital series based off my photography and inviting my celebrity friends to my studio to shoot them and then I interview them. So I’m doing season 2 of that. The digital age makes it so easy to bring your vision to reality for people to see and you can promote yourself. It’s wide open.
Don’t miss the season finale of “Star” TONIGHT (May 23) at 9pm on FOX.