On Starz’s new drama “Power,” Omari Hardwick steps into the role of James “Ghost” St. Patrick, a man at a crossroads.
From Executive Producers Curtis “50 Cent” Jackson and Courtney Kemp Agboh (“The Good Wife”), the new drama centers around Omari’s Ghost, a drug kingpin who is hoping to become a legitimate businessman with his brand new club Truth. The problem is, his life is filled with lies.
Although packed with attractive clientele, Truth was set up to function as a vehicle for Ghost and his childhood friend and business partner, Tommy Egan (Joseph Sikora), to launder their drug trade cash. Ghost wants to break away from his illegal life and go straight with the club, but he can’t be honest about his ambition with anyone close to him, including his wife, Tasha (Naturi Naughton). And, he’s not quite ready to leave illicit behaviors behind to obtain his goal of becoming legit.
As Hardwick explained to AccessHollwood.com, to inhabit Ghost’s shoes, he turned to the classics for inspiration.
“I’m really nerdy and I read a lot,” Hardwick explained. “I read ‘Moby Dick,’… when you think about the level of ambition to capture this whale. … He’s got a little bit of Holden Caulfield from ‘Catcher in the Rye’ in him, sort of that like laissez-faire [attitude]. … The difference is, of course, he looks like he’s a lot more thoughtful even before he does something mischievous or rebellious than Holden Caulfield, who, of course, as a teenager in a private school, was just all over the damn place. But I still thought that at times, that has to be inside this guy, that he forgets and goes to those delusional places and forgets that he’s a 30-[something] year old man, who’s got responsibilities and got a family. So I read that and obviously the ‘Great Gatsby’ was a great reference.”
Hardwick also turned to his own art to piece together his “Power” character.
“My other thing is to write and to try to figure out who these characters are that I’m playing, but I usually do it in a very poetic way, so at times, I found myself thinking about Pablo Escobar, thinking about Nicky Barnes or Frank Lucas. But, I think, for the most part, I wanted to make this guy so different that I thought, let me first write a poem about him, and so I wrote a poem called ‘Ghost.’ And let me read the ‘Great Gatsby,’ and let me read about ‘Macbeth,’” Hardwick said. “A lot of the Shakespearean characters that Shakespeare wrote also had that same dangerous ambition, and so I tried to just go to those places where I found characters, to not look like him on paper, but to have the same thing burning inside that fueled their downfall.”
Ghost is driven, but Hardwick thinks his character is motivated deep down, primarily, by one figure – his late father.
“It’s his father, you know? It’s his dad. I think at the end of the day, the empathy that we can have for his danger, that comes out of his ambition, his high level of ambition, we can empathetically go, ‘Well, you know what? He’s trying to please a father [who is] deceased,’ … ‘Cause I know I played that. That was my attempt,” Hardwick said.
“In the beginning, I thought it was really cool that we see one of the pieces of dialogue [in the season premiere] has him looking at the club after opening night, four something in the morning, before Joe Sikora’s character walks up to him. And he’s whispering to himself, and to his father. He’s saying, ‘You know, Pops, I did it. Your son did it,’” he added.
The show’s first season should see Ghost struggling to make changes, but it won’t be an easy road.
“Courtney Kemp Agboh, our creator, has done a great job of keeping him stuck at times,” Hardwick said of the drama ahead. “I’ll go to her and I’ll be like, ‘Can we get out of that? Can he evade this move and not be so dirty in this scene?’ And she’s done a great job of like, ‘No.’ I mean, could Tony Soprano avoid it? Could all of these other incredible… actors who’ve played these so-called bad characters — could they avoid it?’… They keep going back to that dirty place. So I think he’s no different and I think it was good that Courtney’s sticking with that.”
“Power” premieres June 7 at 9 PM ET/PT on Starz.
-- Jolie Lash