March 2023

Screened | Adam Goldberg

Getting Into Character With The Equalizer's Adam Goldberg

Photos Joel Griffith | Words Tamara Rappa

A prolific presence in the entertainment industry, Adam Goldberg’s acting career has spanned more than three decades. To name and list his memorable roles is quite literally, an endeavor in the endless. Born in Santa Monica, raised in LA, with 'mini-moves due to work' everywhere else, the sought after and always busy actor and creative is a true modern day Renaissance Man, additionally accomplished in the fields of music, photography, and filmmaking. These days, Goldberg stars in the beloved and deliciously New York City-centric CBS hit series The Equalizer opposite Queen Latifah. Currently streaming on Paramount+, The Equalizer reboot had what is simply put, a massive debut to 23 million followers in 2021. Playing a seriously style conscious computer hacker (for the series, Goldberg takes on the tall task of styling himself) and fiercely supportive husband to sniper wife Mel, Adam brings so much of his aesthetic and unabashed authenticity to the role, it's hard not to not to fall in love with his Harry Keshigian, Goldberg's cool character who embodies the best in low-key charisma. We love Adam in all he does. Most recently seen on television in Taken and God Friended Me, Adam is also known for tour de force performances in pop culture classics Friends and Entourage---to name just two. And then there's film. Adam is the kind of actor who was hand-picked by Steven Spielberg and Ron Howard for important and iconic films Saving Private Ryan and A Beautiful Mind, respectively. Remember him fondly as you re-watch him in Richard Linklater's Dazed And Confused and John Singelton's Higher Learning. Make sure you catch Adam in Julie Delpy's charming and compelling, 2 days In Paris, if you haven't already. Ahead of Adam's pivotal March 12th episode, we sat down to talk about how his character reconnects with his Jewish faith in leading the Equalizer team to find the culprit behind a string of antisemitic hate crimes. We get into all things with Adam including how he hones his character, that hypnotically hip style, and more.

Who is Harry Keshegian? Who was he as he was introduced to you on the page? How was he further explained to you? And how have you built him out? Well, tv is funny. You do a film or a play or whatever, and you get all the information about the character you’re playing in one sitting. With tv, you can find out two years into a series that you’re actually a chicken in a man’s body.
In this case, we learn that Harry, in addition to being the things we know from the outset, a leaker of documents, brilliant hacker, etc — is a half Jewish guy whose Jewish mother abandoned him, or so he thinks, when he was a kid. It’s always great when the writers fill in these blanks for you and greater still, to be able to work that backstory into the action on a given show. In addition to that, some of his own conflicts about his Jewishness and his struggle in balancing culture and religion and misperception, are not unlike my own. So it was easy to lose myself in the biography of this guy once he became more fleshed out.

Harry is what is called a white hat hacker. Did you do any research for your role? What did you learn, and/or incorporate in your portrayal? Did you know they let me dress myself?! I mean, I’ve been dressing myself since I was 23, but they let me pick and wear my own wardrobe. I sort of played one on Taken, and that was my research! I mean really, a white hat is more of a security guy who tests the failings of an organization’s firewalls. He’s not so much that; he’s a 'good' hacker, using his skillz for the sake of the justice.

For someone's whose work is so isolating (he is a one-man show in terms of what he can achieve, and in terms of his skill set), someone whose work is literally underground, how do you think the collaboration he experiences with Mel and Robyn enhances his quality of life and also, what he ultimately brings to the table? Well I don’t know about him, but it’s enhanced my quality of life. I mean, that sanctum is dark. And God bless him, but I do much of my dialogue with the script supervisor pretending to be Queen or someone on the other end of a phone and while I stare at a decidedly not blue-blocked screen. So getting out of the house, as it were, and getting some fresh a treat. I also came up with a new undercover disguise this season. Harry rocks a Members Only and a tie, I call him Normal Guy. Hopefully we’ll see more of Normal Guy.

Harry and Mel's relationship is a special one. Why and how do they work as a couple?
I think the post-case sex must be phenomenal.

Harry was in hiding for an extended period of time. What are the kinds of newfound or re-discovered freedoms you believe Harry is enjoying most these days? Definitely fresh air and less take out food. The pilot was written before the pandemic, but Harry took working from home to a new level.

This season, we learn a bit more about Harry's past, particularly about his family life, his ethnic background, his mother. How do you think his past has shaped him today—-both in his professional and his personal lives? I touched on this, but yeah, the startling uptick in antisemitism and hate crimes at large is reflected on The Equalizer, and in 'my' episode, Harry is forced to confront his relationship with his mother and his heritage in the context of a series of alarming antisemitic attacks.

How do you see him evolving? Is there anything you can share about what's next for Harry?
You’re guess is as good as mine. I’m just hoping they held on to that Member’s Only jacket.


"Bespoke, heritage, selvage denim, leather, boots, wallets, jewelry; I’m a dedicated follower of fashion."

"Motorcycles. I took them up again after 20-plus years. My gateway was an electric bike, I’m now riding a Royal Enfield Interceptor. I also have a 1970 Triumph TR6 for sale. It’s stunning, but you shift with the opposite foot and that scared the sh*t out of me'.

"Furniture. We just moved. We move a lot. But mini-moves, due to work. This time we bought a house outside of New York City where we shoot The Equalizer. Currently I'm in my interior design wormhole, where I go each time. We have a bunch of mid century furniture (I’ve been collecting since the ‘90s) and it’s right at home in this mid century house. BUT not all our stuff works, which means many a late night on the internet scouring sites. It’s actually a problem I probably shouldn’t be discussing here."

"Hi Fi! That’s another problem...I need this show to run for three more seasons, so I can buy Symbol Audio’s integrated console turntable. I just got to see it and hear it in real life for the first time, after drooling over it on Instagram for years. Their workshop is right near us. It’s mind-blowing. And bank account blowing".

"Articles of Interest is a podcast I’m very much obsessed with. Usually I’m a news and true crime guy, but this is a very detailed and specific take on fashion. It’s totally engrossing. The gateway, was this book my wife got me for Christmas, Ametora. It’s about how American inspired Japanese workwear boomeranged back to inspire American fashion. On Articles of Interest, host Avery Trufelman does a whole season on “ivy” or “prep”, and how Japan essentially imported ivy style with this book from the ‘60s called Take Ivy , and in turn that lead to designers like Ralph Lauren, here. It’s so in my wheelhouse it felt, well, bespoke."

"You need to know about Bridget St. John. A singer | songwriter contemporary of Nick Drake. But she’s still with us, she’s a pal, and her music is transcendental. Get her first three seminal albums, any and all, and go see her play if you can, she’s still magic."

Watch Adam Goldberg in the CBS Original series, The Equalizer, on the CBS Television Network, and available to stream live and on demand on Paramount+.