Wendell Pierce's warning to Meghan during their last meeting

The actor spoke during an appearance on Desert Island Discs.

Wendell Pierce has said he warned his former Suits co-star the Duchess of Sussex that her world would be “forever changed” during their last face-to-face meeting.

Pierce, 55, played Robert Zane, the successful lawyer and protective father of Meghan’s character Rachel, in the long-running US legal drama.

During an appearance on Desert Island Discs he recalled how he had saved Meghan, 38, from being photographed wearing a costume ring, after filming scenes in which her character had become engaged.

Wendell Pierce with Lauren Laverne on Desert Island Discs (BBC Radio 4/Amanda Benson/PA)

He told host Lauren Laverne: “It was great. She’s a really good actress and was always sweet, always kind.

“We were shooting one day, before the engagement. In the show she was engaged, and she had a ring on.

“We were about to get out of the car and I said: ‘Don’t get out. Give us the ring. There’s a paparazzi down the street. If a photograph got out with you with a ring on it, it would explode all over the world.’

“Then when we had the final scenes I said: ‘Look, listen, your world is going to be forever changed and no matter where you are, you can always know that you have a friend in me.

The Duchess of Sussex on gender equality
The Duchess of Sussex (Jeremy Selwyn/Evening Standard/PA)

“That was the last time I got to speak to her – and it was great.”

Pierce, who is known for roles in The Wire and Jack Ryan, was born in Pontchartrain Park, a black middle-class neighbourhood in New Orleans, Louisiana.

Pierce’s family home was severely flooded during Hurricane Katrina in 2005 but he worked to rebuild from the inside-out because he feared his parents would “die” if they saw the plot of land empty.

He said the devastation was like “losing a member of a family”.

“It was very painful,” he said.

“I have seen my parents in grief once before when my older brother died. He died about five years before.

“I saw them just become these diminutive fragile souls. And then I saw it again that day when I brought them to the house.

“I knew that if I demolished the home it probably would demolish them. So I told the contractor: ‘I don’t want to ever see the lot empty.’

“We rebuilt from the inside-out. All I knew was that I needed to get them back into the home or they would die.”

This spurred Pierce on to create the Pontchartrain Park Community Development Corp, a non-profit building affordable solar and geothermal homes for those displaced families.

Pierce also staged Samuel Beckett’s play Waiting For Godot in the Lower Ninth Ward, one of New Orleans’ most devastated areas.

He also spoke about suffering “imposter syndrome” as a young actor, and admitted he still sometimes experiences it.

Pierce chose Albert Murray’s The Omni-Americans as his book and a grill as his luxury item, to continue the culinary heritage of New Orleans.

His tracks included picks such as Jim Henson as Kermit the Frog singing Being Green and Joni Mitchell’s Both Sides Now.

Wendell Pierce on Desert Island Discs airs on BBC Sounds and BBC Radio 4 on Sunday at 11.15am.

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