When a Walmart truck crashed into Tracy Morgan’s limo, the world waited to hear if he would recover. The accident cost the life of James McNair, and you didn’t have to be a fan of Morgan’s work to wish for a human being’s recovery. Morgan did recover and hosted Saturday Night Live and a Netflix comedy special. This week he was on a Television Critics Association panel for a new TBS comedy The Last O.G. and spoke emotionally about coming back to work.
“Listen, I had to get hit by the truck,” Morgan said. “If I didn’t get hit by the truck, I wouldn’t be able to make the impact that I’m making right now. So good. Thank you. Maybe I’m just a better man now since the accident. It ain’t about me. It’s bigger than me. I’m fortunate to have these folks around me, bringing the vision that me and John [Caricieri, creator] and Jordan [Peele] had, and Eric [Tannenbaum], that we had. We just lucked up and got what we wanted with the people, the folks that could do it. I’m just a better man now. I know it ain’t about me. It’s bigger than me. I thank God for that.”
More than crediting the accident with changing his worldview, Morgan is thankful for survival. “Thank God,” Morgan said. “That’s all I got to say. Self-explanatory. Thank God.”
Physically, Morgan still has different needs than he used to. His team makes sure he doesn’t overexert himself.
“I have production, I have my crew and I love them and they make sure I sit down,” Morgan said. “And [co-stars] Cedric [the Entertainer] and Al[len Maldonado] and Ryan [Gaul] and Tiff[any Haddish], they all [tell me], ‘Sit down.’ They don’t ask me. They make [me]. ‘Sit down for a little while. Sit down.’ So I’m good. I’m taken care of by my people, and I love them with my heart. And thank you for thinking about that. Thank you. Good question. No, I’m taken care of.”
The Last O.G. stars Morgan as Tray, an ex-con returning home to Brooklyn after a 15 year prison stint.
“Well, he got off the bus, his whole thing’s been gentrified,” Morgan said. “To do 15 years and come home on a normal basis is hard. Then to come home to gentrification, he was like in the Planet of the Apes. But he had these people to help him. He didn’t do it by himself. He had Cousin Bobby (Maldonado) to help him transition. You want to know the reason why the dinosaurs ain’t here no more? They couldn’t evolve quick enough. Thank God he had Bobby. He had Mullins (Cedric). Mullins is the first person to help him and tell him, ‘You got to do this. You got to program different now.’ He understood protocol, but he had to learn a different program. This is a different program now. Same soup, just a different bowl, baby.”
The Last O.G. is not so much about African-American neighborhoods. It just happens that Morgan and many of his costars are black. “This isn’t a black show,” Morgan said. “This is a show about humanity. This is the show about second chances. This is a show about redemption. We’re not just going black with it like that. I mean, it’s a black cast. There’s black people in it, but this is dealing with Josh [Gaul] and his issues and all that, the humanity. I wanted to transcend that. Black people ain’t the only one that live here. Everybody lives here. Who are we to say others don’t matter. There are white people coming home from prison too. So we didn’t want to deal with that like that. I wanted to deal with humanity.”
Gaul’s character is the new significant other to Tray’s ex, Shay (Haddish), and the father figure to her children by Tray.
“Thank God for Josh, because I went to jail and if I wouldn’t have went to jail, I might have led her down the wrong path,” Morgan said. “So I went to jail, I think, for a reason. He stepped in, and my kids are better off. We both come to terms with I had her my way and he got her his. The adults in the two kids’ lives are good people, which is important. You can have a billion dollars and be a piece of shit. You have to be good to others. I know my reward is not forget about what you all see me wearing. That is not my reward. My reward is when he welcomes me back into his kingdom. And I’m rewarded that way by how I treat you all, how I treat my brothers and my sisters. So that’s what I got redemption. I’m here. I want to give you a hand and give you a hand with them and the right way as far as guidance.”
The Last O.G. is coming to TBS this fall.