*The popular Tyler Perry’s “Ruthless” on BET Plus is being renewed for another season. It tells a riveting story of Ruth, who becomes entangled in a scandalous cult of powerful sex-crazed fanatics led by a handsome but violent madman. She finds herself having to play along with the “Highest” who leads the cult until she can find a way to free herself and her young daughter.
Some of the leading cast members sit down with iHeart Radio and TV personality and EURweb Spotlight host Jazmyn ‘Jaz’ Summers.
Season 3, streaming now, picks up with even more drama, jealousy, and deception as The Highest plans to grow the Rakudushis cult. While a growing number of his flock are trying to escape paradise, the FBI infiltrates the cult. Bodies begin to pile up in the pursuit of all of the deserters and agents are jeopardized. All the while, Ruth tries to gain power in the compound.
Melissa Williams plays Ruth in “Ruthless,” as a former call girl she has learned to manipulate and gain psychological power over the Highest. It’s a dangerous mission. Disobedient cult members are often put in the punishment room where they are tortured and sometimes killed.
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“What I enjoy about Ruth is that she is a complicated character. You don’t know what you’re going to get from her and somebody who really has to come up with a strategy because we’re in a real-life, modern-day cult here,” explains Melissa. “You can’t just walk out the gate. So she has to come up with some type of plan. And what I like in the seasons to come and in this season, specifically, is the strength that she is displaying and kind of turning the tables when it comes to power. The first season, you saw the horrible things that happened to her character and other characters as well. Women were being treated in a very demeaning, horrible way, which they still are. But now it’s like there’s some type of leverage that Ruth has gained.”
“She has a kind of fight or flight mentality. What are you going to do when your back is against the wall? When you know that there’s money here, when you know that you got to save your daughter, you haven’t seen her? When you know that this man is diabolically insane when you know that he has a right-hand man that is equally insane,” Melissa also shares.
The series is full of eye candy I promise. Lenny Thomas is no exception. He plays the Highest’s right-hand man Daikon and occasional sex partner but he’s also in love with Ruth. Yes, it’s a hot mess.
“It’s interesting, someone brought to my attention that Daikon is like the wife of the compound. Not only is he the main soldier who gets stuff done, but he’s the wife for the Highest in his mind. So now the way the story has gone that he (the Highest) is choosing Ruth to essentially take his (Daikon’s) place, he’s been worried about getting his place taken the entire series.”
Lenny tells Jaz that playing such a dark and complex character comes from the writing and his own experience.
“What gets me into that is, it’s right there on the page. Tyler, the way he writes this show, it’s all right there. And then he just lets us play, you know what I mean? Unfortunately, I personally know some people who are similar in their diabolical behavior and energy. These are people who were supposed to raise me. Instead, some neglected and sometimes abused me. They had that energy, and that’s where I was able to tap into it because it doesn’t come from me. It’s something I saw before as a child.”
Lenny’s dream of being a football player was cut short when he was hit by a car and had to let that dream go.
“Actually that was the biggest blessing,” he reveals to EURweb Spotlight. “Getting that car run me over was a blessing. Because I was signing myself up for a world of pain because football is impossible. You know what I mean? They’re modern-day athletes. Their bodies aren’t able to do the things that they have to do to compete. So that was God throwing me a Hail Mary like Nah, son, here’s something else for you. And letting go and changing is a necessary part of life. The more you fight it, the harder your life will be. If you spent years doing something and then all of a sudden it doesn’t work, God has something else lined up for you. Tap back in. Get back to it.”
Tyler Perry has been criticized in Hollywood for not employing writers but writing almost all his shows himself. But Lenny dishes that in a way he lets them all write on the spot. It’s a team effort.
“He lets us fly, especially now. We all try to honor his words. Always honor the writer. That’s one of the things I was taught coming up. But he lets us play. Like, if there’s something that we want to do or even if there’s, like, a typo, we make it make sense. We make it work. And he lets us fly. He’ll even stop us and throw us lines. So he’s not 100% married to what he writes.”
Another heartthrob is Blue Kimble who plays undercover FBI agent Andrew.
“Andrew is going through it,” shares Blue. “His whole original plan is to save everybody. But in the midst of all that, he’s getting caught up in different emotions of what’s going on within his cult, within the Highest and the things that he has to do to be able to stay undercover.”
Including sleeping with the Highest?
“That was just an illusion,” Blue clarifies but he may have to “body” some people even as he tries to not have to kill anyone.
“And it’s weighing on him, ” explains Blue. “He’s getting a little too deep. So hopefully Andrew will still be able to stick to the original plan.”
Kimble also does his own stunts which have included being thrown from cars.
“I come from being a football player before, I was blessed enough to get into acting. Acting was my blessing. My transition after you do something your whole life which was playing football since I was five and after that’s over, what next? I wanted to play professionally. And then it doesn’t work out the way that you wish, dream or plan it. Everybody wants to be a Super Bowl hero and a star. It didn’t happen like that. Acting was the blessing. Football is actually a rough situation . NFL stands for Not for long.” he jokes.
“We have amazing stunt workers and they look like us. But I’ll get in there and do it myself. I’ve jumped out of a two-story building and landed on glass.”
Baadja Lyne is the evil queen mother whose devotion to the Highest is unbound no matter what he does. She tries to rule the women with an iron fist and her power is being challenged by Ruth.
Originally from Jamaica, Baadja says that the cruelty she portrays in her character, “comes from a collection of studying people. I’ve been in this business a long time. I started on stage and I love stage. You bring your characters from the people that you see around you. And as Lenny said, I’ve run into some nasty, nasty people and I just log it and say, I’ll use part of this, I’ll use part of that. And then you just start building your character from there. But Baadja is not like that. People forget I’m playing a character and run up on me and say ‘I don’t like you. I don’t like you. I don’t like you’.”
One of the craziest moments the cast says was when they has to use a prosthetic of Lenny’s private parts but it kept slipping.
Lenny tells the tale: “That punishment trailer scene, that first one, the one with the whipping and stuff. Melissa can attest to it. That was the craziest thing we’ve ever done ever in life. It was raining that day, so we had to stop and go. Stop and go because the sound was getting messed up. We’re playing with prosthetics. For people who don’t know, prosthetics are like fake arms and legs and things like that. And what happened? What happened to my third leg? We needed to stop and go constantly because we were shooting that in the middle of the pandemic, and we were missing a lot of pieces that would have made it easier to do. So it was trying to hold the prosthetic in place so that I’m not showing the world me for real.”
When asked which looked better, him or the prosthetic. “Me Of course me,” he laughs. “I was trying to protect them from seeing all that.”
Melissa, recently lent her name to the cause of Julius Jones, a wrongly convicted Black man that was on death row for over 19 years for a crime he didn’t commit. As in many death row cases, there is strong evidence of racial bias. In November of last year, the Governor of Oklahoma responded to the pressure and gave Jones clemency changing his sentence to life without the possibility of parole.
“Thank God. I was just happy to be a part and try to spread the message. I was just happy to have a platform where people actually value my opinion. Enough people took action for this (execution) to not go through and that was just great,” she says.
“Ruthless” is streaming now on BET Plus.
Check out the full fun convo in the video at the top. And please don’t forget to subscribe to Jaz’s YouTube channel.