The Equalizer's Adam Goldberg And Writers Discuss 'Different Perspectives' And Sense Of 'Responsibility' For Episode Addressing Antisemitism

Adam Goldberg as Harry in Season 3 of The Equalizer on CBS
(Image credit: CBS)

The Equalizer has been going strong since its return in the 2023 TV schedule, and the hit CBS drama is on the verge of addressing an important issue through the eyes of a major character. A case involve antisemitic hate will mean members of the team pulling out all the stops, and lead to Harry (Adam Goldberg) reconnecting with his Jewish faith. Ahead of the episode, called “Never Again,” Goldberg as well as writers Adam Glass (also the showrunner) and Ora Yashar spoke with CinemaBlend about bringing this issue to television. 

“Never Again” will put Harry in the forefront of a storyline about a string of antisemitic hate crimes, which are terrorizing a local community in New York. With the threat of the attacks continuing, he’ll reconnect with his Jewish faith, which isn’t something that The Equalizer has incorporated into such an important case before. When Adam Goldberg spoke with CinemaBlend about playing Harry in such a standout episode, he shared his thoughts on exploring a new side of his character in the face of such a horrifying situation: 

I have certainly dealt with this subject matter in reality, and that's something I've been pretty vocal about. Sort of by hook or crook, sort of dragged into it vis-a-vis social media, but then came to really take it on and engage. But as an actor, dating back to doing Higher Learning with John Singleton, I've definitely played guys on the other end of a white supremacist's gun, or knife, in the case of Saving Private Ryan. So it's not unfamiliar terrain, and frankly, I think I might have been a little ambivalent about exploring it maybe a few years ago, but given the uptick in a really shocking amount of hate crimes, I felt certainly like it was kind of my responsibility in many ways to really go for it and immerse myself in it.

Adam Goldberg, who grew up in California and has been part of the Equalizer cast from the beginning, brought his own experience to “Never Again,” both from what he has dealt with in his own life and roles that he’s played, including Higher Learning in 1995 and Saving Private Ryan in 1998. 

The rise in antisemitic hate crimes in recent years made the actor feel a sense of “responsibility” to bring this powerful story to life on The Equalizer. Viewers will have to wait and see how the show will handle such a sensitive subject, but all signs point toward an episode that fans won’t want to miss. The actor continued: 

So as an actor playing a character that's been on TV for a couple of years, I think it's always great to get just new information about that character. That's something that that I think everybody who acts in a TV show wants because you don't really know from week to week in the same way you do when you're doing a movie. In this case, the mission was so personal to him, and to me, that there was just a lot of overlap. It felt, in some ways, cathartic. This is one of those cases where you're [trying to catch] the people who committed this particular crime, but you're playing whack-a-mole with an enormous problem here that's hardly resolved at the end of the episode.

While it’s safe to say that “Never Again” won’t be an easy hour of television for Harry, it has expanded what Adam Goldberg knows (and what he can play) about his character. The actor also shared that he went to Jewish day school as a child but “decided not to get a bar mitzvah because I felt it would be disingenuous” because he wasn’t religious, and he “always felt like it was hard for me to balance my cultural heritage with the sort of religious aspects of being Jewish.” 

Since Goldberg shared that the case of this episode is personal to him and his character, his perspective is clearly important for “Never Again.” He’s also not the only one from The Equalizer team to open up about the importance of perspective for this episode. Writer Ora Yashar co-wrote “Never Again” with showrunner Adam Glass, and she brought her very personal perspective as a first-generation American whose family came from Iran. She addressed how the show approached telling this story, saying: 

We have a lot of different conversations. We've discussed a lot, and Jewish people aren't a monolith. There's so many different types of Jews. They're religious and they're cultural, and we all come from different places. Myself, Adam Glass, Adam Goldberg – we all definitely had very different perspectives on it, so it was great to really be able to delve into that for Harry. He had shied away from the community and left the community, and this hasn't been a part of his life.

The Equalizer is on the verge of delving into an area of Harry’s life that he’s been disconnected from; based on what has been revealed about the episode so far, fans can only hope that he’ll have all the support he can get from Mel (whose own backstory was recently explored in an episode featuring her siblings) and McCall, although the latter has been dealing with pressing problems of her own recently. 

Showrunner Adam Glass shared his own thoughts on exploring perspective in “Never Again,” previewing that some of the stories that Harry has will “come a little more from my background and be an Ashkenazi Jew and grew up in New York City,” and that he, Ora Yashar, and Adam Goldberg “just had conversations about it.” He addressed why now is the time that The Equalizer will address antisemitic hate crimes, saying:

Well, I think that at the end of the day, sometimes it's not so much about when the episode comes out. It's a story that we knew we wanted to tell from the beginning. It's one of the first things that when I came aboard, and you're looking at all the things that the show deals with so well, and we're so lucky that we have a show that has a platform where we can sort of dive into different subject matters, and social issues and all that stuff. It was really about just getting the story right, and finding the way in, and we always sensed that Harry could be that source. As Ora always pointed out, in the show, Harry already had an identity.

Harry already has an identity of his own, with Ora Yashar noting that the character is Armenian. Adam Glass went on to explain how they found a poignant way to explore another side of the character and expand his identity via these discussions. He shared: 

We said, 'Well, you know, what if his mother was Jewish?' Which is I think something else you see in the culture a lot. My mom's Jewish, my dad wasn't Jewish, but I was raised Jewish, so it was just a matter of just finding the right story and telling it right… I think what we thought we were going to start with, and what we ended up with was totally different. But again, like you said, it's just unfortunately in the news so much, and so much a part of our lives, and Ora and I both being Jewish, and other people in the writers room being Jewish, was something we were all talking about. We really wanted to just figure out a way to tell the story and make it personal to our team.

The Equalizer team did indeed find a way to tell the story, and “Never Again” promises to be a powerful hour of television that puts Harry through the wringer and gives Adam Goldberg the chance to shine in a way that hasn’t happened before on the show. He'll portray a side of Harry that fans haven't seen, even after two full seasons and many episodes of the third.

And fans don’t have much longer to wait for “Never Again.” The upcoming episode of The Equalizer that will address antisemitic hate crimes airs on Sunday, March 12 at 8 p.m. ET on CBS. You can also revisit earlier episodes of the three seasons so far streaming with a Paramount+ subscription. Saving Private Ryan (featuring all of its shocking moments) with Adam Goldberg is also available on the streamer. 

Laura Hurley
Senior Content Producer

Laura turned a lifelong love of television into a valid reason to write and think about TV on a daily basis. She's not a doctor, lawyer, or detective, but watches a lot of them in primetime. CinemaBlend's resident expert and interviewer for One Chicago, the galaxy far, far away, and a variety of other primetime television. Will not time travel and can cite multiple TV shows to explain why. She does, however, want to believe that she can sneak references to The X-Files into daily conversation (and author bios).