Meet the spirited ensemble of ‘Ghosts’

It hardly seems like an exaggeration to say that “Ghosts” — the hit CBS supernatural sitcom about a young couple who inherit a country house inhabited by many of the people who have died on the property over the centuries — lives and dies by the chemistry of its large ensemble.

For the actors who play the eight main ghosts, the show’s success has given each of them a new lease on their careers. Take it from Sheila Carrasco, who plays ditzy hippie Flower: “I used to work four to five different part-time jobs at a time, so if I ever got fired from one of them for calling in sick to go to an audition, I would still make rent that month. Now, I wake up and pinch myself almost every day … and I get weekends off!”

Henrietta “Hetty” Woodstone (Rebecca Wisocky)

The haughty, Irish-hating wife of a robber baron, Wisocky’s uptight, Gilded Age-era lady of the manor has — through her interactions with other ghosts, her distant descendant Sam (Rose McIver) and a faulty washing machine — opened herself up to the idea of pleasure and even the capacity for change.

In the third season’s “Holes Are Bad” episode, Hetty reveals that, while facing criminal charges for her husband’s business practices and already feeling unhappy with the constraints of society, she died by suicide using a telephone cord — the same cord that she uses to save Flower from an abandoned well. “Articulating the perspective of a woman who has had 150 years of afterlife to reflect on that choice [to kill herself] and then revealing it all to save her friend felt like a lot for a half-hour comedy to take on, but our show consistently balances humor and pathos so well,” Wisocky says.

Danielle Pinnock as Alberta, wears a red Jazz-era outfit

Alberta Haynes (Danielle Pinnock)

As the Woodstone mansion’s resident Prohibition-era jazz singer, Pinnock drew inspiration from the likes of Ma Rainey and Bessie Smith for the overt confidence of her brassy, flamboyant character.

Following the shocking reveal that Hetty’s son was responsible for murdering Alberta with a bottle of strychnine-laced moonshine, Pinnock relished the opportunity to play a more romantic side of Alberta this season. “When the entertainment industry creates roles for plus-size women, the roles are usually occupationally driven, or they are side characters who are the butt of the joke,” Pinnock says. “Polterguest,” the episode in which Alberta develops a connection with a Negro Leagues baseball player played by Lamorne Morris, “gave me the confidence to say that I am a romantic lead.”

Sheila Carrasco as Flower, flashes peace signs.

Susan “Flower” Montero (Sheila Carrasco)

On paper, the show’s whimsical, forgetful hippie — whose bewildering backstory includes being part of a drug-fueled cult and being mauled to death by a bear in the woods — could easily come across as one-note. But in Carrasco’s hands, the character’s free-loving, naive nature is oddly endearing.

Carrasco’s real-life pregnancy influenced the writing of the third season; while her friends believe that she has been sent to the afterlife, the writers reveal she had actually fallen down a well and gets rescued. Carrasco was 10 weeks postpartum and struggled with mastitis on her first day back on the Montreal set, but she remains most proud of that episode for a special reason: “I can’t wait to show it to my daughter one day.”

Richie Moriarty as Pete, wears a scout leader uniform and has an arrow going through his neck.

Pete Martino (Richie Moriarty)

Of all the ghosts, Moriarty’s affable but socially awkward travel agent/scout troop leader, who died of an arrow through the neck, has been the most unlucky in love. After learning in the first season that his (living but now deceased) wife cheated on him with his best friend, Pete’s attempts to get Alberta to see him as more than just a friend have fallen flat — at least for now.

But in the third season, viewers discover that Pete may have the coolest ghost power of all: the ability to leave the Woodstone property. In “The Traveling Agent” episode, Pete, who has an infamous fear of change, “learns that there are legitimate things to be scared of in the outside world, but he can’t let those things stop him from taking chances and living his afterlife,” Moriarty says.

Devan Long as Thorfinn, wears Viking garb

Thorfinn (Devan Chandler Long)

Long’s melodramatic Norwegian Viking warrior is the definition of a gentle giant. Although he may delight in regaling his fellow denizens with tales of his days at sea, Thorfinn’s tough exterior belies his innate affection and desire for human connection. One such example is when Thorfinn reveals that he was Hetty’s imaginary friend when she was a child. “I always knew Thor was this bold, brash, boisterous dude,” Long says, “but when I discovered the compassionate, loving, soft side to him, it really added a new layer of depth to the big guy.”

Brandon Scott Jones as Isaac, wears a Revolutionary War uniform.

Capt. Isaac Higgintoot (Brandon Scott Jones)

Jones’ portrayal of a closeted Revolutionary War soldier, who falls in love with a British soldier in the afterlife and has a hilariously one-sided rivalry with Alexander Hamilton, is a fascinating study of a man who has never felt completely comfortable in his own body. For instance, Jones notes, the more Isaac tries to embody the stoicism and stillness of a military man, “the more flailing and flamboyant his motions become.”

In three seasons, “[Isaac’s] gone from this closeted, overcompensating masculine guy to this really thoughtful man coming out in today’s age after being a different person for 200-some-odd years,” notes Utkarsh Ambudkar, who plays Jay, the half of the living couple who cannot see the ghosts.

Asher Grodman as Trevor, wears a suit ... on top anyway

Trevor Lefkowitz (Asher Grodman)

One of the biggest mysteries of the first season seemed pretty obvious: How did a Wall Street finance bro die without his pants on the grounds of the Woodstone estate? That question was answered in the “Trevor’s Pants” episode, in which Trevor reveals that shortly before dying of drug-induced cardiac arrest, he secretly loaned his clothes to a young work associate who was forced to undergo a cruel hazing ritual by a Woodstone descendant. The reveal adds surprising depth to a character who was introduced as a freewheeling womanizer. The writers “treated something as lighthearted as a missing pair of pants with the intensity of a murder mystery and landed it with a surprising commentary on bullying,” Grodman says.

Roman Zaragoza as Sasappis, is dressed as a Native American.

Sasappis (Román Zaragoza)

From the outset, co-showrunners Joe Port and Joe Wiseman knew they wanted to include a Native American character, so they created Sasappis, a wry Lenape man who died as a hopelessly romantic young soul and became a cynic. (His ghost power is he has the ability to infiltrate the dreams of living people.)

Zaragoza took center stage on TV for the first time in the “Ghostwriter” episode of the first season, in which Sasappis rediscovers his love for storytelling. The actor worked closely with Lenape consultant Joe Baker and Mvskoke Creek writer John Timothy to craft the stories that his character tells at the end of the episode — but the real icing on the cake was that Zaragoza’s father, Gregory, played Sasappis’ father.

The Envelope reached out to each of the actors to learn a bit more.

What is something you still want to learn about your character?

Grodman: Why Trevor has the ability — albeit with much effort — to move objects. Is it just a very powerful finger? Where did that come from?

Zaragoza: How Sasappis died.

Long: All the trouble Thor got into before he got off the boat. Why did his shipmates abandon him? What was he like back in Norway?

Carrasco: I want Flower’s brother to come to Woodstone, so we can find out more about her family. Were they very conservative? Were they a traveling circus or a family band?

Jones: [Isaac] never had children, but is his bloodline still around?

Wisocky: We still don’t know Hetty’s true ghost power!

Moriarty: [Pete’s] relationship with his wife before he died was so flawed and tumultuous. I think it would be so interesting to see Pete properly matched with someone in his afterlife and how that would change him.

Pinnock: Alberta’s side hustles before she discovered that singing could be a career path for her. What else was she good at? Did she sell stockings and girdles? Did she take bets on the ponies? [Also] the relationship back in the day with her sister, Theresa. When I think of them, I hark them to the Harlem Renaissance versions of “Dreamgirls.”

How has working on “Ghosts” changed your own outlook on life and death?

Long: I try to sing better in the shower, in case I have an audience.

Carrasco: I think a lot more about who might be watching and judging what I watch on TV late at night. And I always try to dress comfortably every day now, because… you never know.

Moriarty: Some of the ghosts are still very hung up on things from their lives that happened sometimes hundreds of years ago. These hang-ups can hinder their growth and happiness. It’s been a good reminder for me that the past doesn’t define us, and we can only truly move forward after letting go of the past.

Pinnock: In 2011, I was dealing with severe bouts of depression and residual sadness about my father’s passing. I was hospitalized for attempting suicide. I remember looking up at the hospital ceiling and saying, “God, why am I still alive?” Working on “Ghosts” makes me so grateful that I got another chance at life. People ask me all the time why I am so joyous. Well, it’s because I am a survivor.

Zaragoza: I spent a lot of my childhood lost and searching for answers on what happens after one dies. I love how “Ghosts” addresses this concept of death in such a light and playful way. I believe this show has the power to lift the weight of death and bring the focus on living our lives.

Wisocky: We’ve heard from so many people how the show has given them permission to talk about death. It’s given me permission to feel less terror about mortality too.

What would your ghost power be?

Long: Being able to grant wishes like a genie, but I grant wishes to people who don’t even know I’m listening, sort of like a magical guardian ghost.

Grodman: By walking through someone, I could cripple them with indecision.

Pinnock: I’d love to pop up in photos. If someone was taking a selfie, I’d love to photo bomb it as a ghost, so my memory can last through the ages.

Wisocky: It’d be nice to be able to leave ridiculous little hints for loved ones to remind them to laugh and be silly.

What is your favorite ghost story from TV or film?

Moriarty: The original “Ghostbusters.”

Carrasco: “Coco.” The scene when Mamá Coco finally remembers her father’s song for the first time and says “Papá,” I cry every single time.

Grodman: “The Lion King.”

Zaragoza: “Angels in the Outfield.”

Jones: “Ghost.” “Beetlejuice.” “Hereditary.”

Long: “If you build it, they will come” [from “Field of Dreams”].

Wisocky: “Defending Your Life.” And this is more of a screwball possession story than a ghost story, but I just watched the Steve Martin documentaries and was reminded of how much I loved “All of Me.” Both of those are more “ghost-adjacent” but have themes that relate to our show.


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