In the sixth and final season of POWER, Sundays on Starz, everything is coming apart for protagonist James “Ghost” St. Patrick, played by Omari Hardwick. Once a successful New York City nightclub owner and drug dealer (not necessarily in that order), Ghost has seen his empire crumble. His wife Tasha (Naturi Naughton) has left him, his teen son Tariq (Michael Rainey Jr.) despises him, his young daughter Raina (Donshea Hopkins) has been murdered, he’s (wrongly) implicated in the killing of his lover, prosecutor Angela Valdes (Lela Loren), and his erstwhile best friend Tommy (Joseph Sikora) is out for blood.
Hardwick, originally from Georgia, played football in college and professionally for the San Diego Chargers before a knee injury removed him from the field. Hardwick then moved to New York to take acting lessons. He has previously had major roles in the TV series SAVED, DARK BLUE, and BEING MARY JANE. Hardwick’s film credits include BEAUTY SHOP, THE GUARDIAN, director Spike Lee’s MIRACLE AT SANTA ANNA, KICK-ASS, THE A-TEAM, and SORRY TO BOTHER YOU.
In this interview about POWER, created and run by Courtney A. Kemp, Hardwick talks about his feelings on Ghost’s trajectory, and what has surprised him most.
ASSIGNMENT X: When you started POWER, where did you expect Ghost’s journey to go, and has the series diverged from that expectation?
OMARI HARDWICK: I definitely expected this sort of fall, [but] it’s still arguable has been a fall, so to speak, yet. I look at a guy that was breaking good from bad, but then also ask myself, playing this guy for this many seasons, did he ever get to that place [of actual good]? Or was he able, in an apparition way, to simply look like a Ghost gone good? There is a level of intelligence that obviously he was able to get, the environmental groups that he was able to show his face in front of to believe that he had really become this thing and risen to the top, rags to riches, come out of the shambles, and become this larger-than-life figure. But when I was playing the guy, and again, maybe viewers feel the same way, I never really decided whether I thought he got to the top enough for it to be defined as a fall when he fell. But I did definitely expect, for whatever people would call the decline of the guy, from Season 1 to Season 6, to happen.
It had to happen. You are carrying two relationships in that triumvirate love affair between Tasha, played by Naturi, and Lela, playing Angela. And so inevitably, that’s going to affect your household, if you’re married to one and you’ve got kids with her, [and with the other you have] that crazy affair we all know and have been attracted to. From that perspective, from me having a life where, as a personal product of that [in real life], my father had lived that life, where he had an affair, and it became a relationship, and there was my mom in real life left to deal with it, and me as one of the four kids left to deal with it. In that regard, I thought, “Well, yeah, everything else that falls apart around that is probably connected to the spine of the fall. And the spine of the fall was when you chose to go outside of your marriage and create a life with somebody else.”
Somebody might go, “But then with Ghost, it’s also the drug dealing.” Yeah, there’s that. “But then with Ghost, there are also the killings.” Yeah, there’s that. This guy has done so many things that are steroid versions of what my father did wrong that to play him became one of those things where, again, it was just hard to define whether I had actually made it to the top, for me to play him. Maybe the world believes, “Oh, Ghost, you’re on top, I love where you are.” But I always said, “I don’t know if the guy quite reached the top.” Maybe that’s why we have a show, because we took you on this journey where he almost reached the top, but he never quite reached the top. So it wasn’t necessarily anything that I didn’t predict, even in terms of the conclusion of where you’ll see my character come forward when you watch this last season.
What did surprise me is, I always thought that Michael Rainey’s Tariq would stay closer to [Ghost]. Maybe it was a selfish desire, for when I look outside of, even me as Omari, and I think about the character, even the story that was given to me from the gate, the inception of it made it where I believe that Ghost hadn’t done bad enough as a father – as a husband, absolutely, and that does affect your kids, because as I said, I was a personal product of it – but as a father, I didn’t think he did bad enough where his son just has such disdain for him. That was the big surprise for me. I didn’t think, as a father to an actual son, that him having that level of disdain for his father made as much sense to me. And it’s ironic, because as much as it’s a surprise, I do believe that that Michael Rainey’s Tariq had a legitimate gripe with his Pops, and all that he did bad, but personal experiences have shown me that there have been fathers that have done way worse, and their sons and/or daughters have not flown the coop the way that Tariq flew the coop. So that one was the one thing that I would call Courtney on and be like, “Really?”
[Another surprise was] the loss of Donshea and her Raina, the daughter character. As much as that does make sense, in that real world, the drug dealer’s kids, and even the kids that are not doing bad, but often the kid that was doing good, are the ones that get hit. I get that, Abbie, I’ve always gotten that, but that one kind of surprised me that we went there in a television spectrum, that we were showing the modern world a little girl getting shot like that. I know innocent bystanders get shot. So absolutely, that happens. When Courtney and I talked about it. I said, “I can’t watch this scene.” She said, “I’m fine with you not watching the scene.” I’ve never watched it. I didn’t want it to inform a reaction, as opposed to reacting [in performance] just the way the writing wanted me to react. I didn’t want it to inform a reaction. So I didn’t watch it. But that kind of threw me a bit. But I would say, overall, in terms of within the story, Michael Rainey’s Tariq having such disdain for Ghost has been a little shocking to me.
AX: Do you have a paternal feeling for Michael Rainey as your younger colleague, who you’ve worked with on POWER since he was actually a child?
HARDWICK: Yeah. I did so much with that kid. I continue to do so much with that kid, as a father figure, and it’s been an honor.
AX: Have you had to learn anything over the course of the six seasons of POWER in order to play Ghost?
HARDWICK: I will say Number One is the business side of it, what is expected of me, the permission I don’t have at times to be in Method [the acting technique], because me being in Method might affect other people a little bit more, because I am the one looked at to be the Tom Brady. But in being Tom Brady within the real world of what Tom Brady does, which is football, he gets to fully be Tom Brady, because it’s football, a former world of mine. But as an actor, you can’t act out in that emotive way. Because as Ghost, you’re sometimes methodical in your process. Courtney said to me a long time ago, “Learn to let your fullback block for the artist called Running Back.” So I’ve had to learn to let my fullback do the blocking.
AX: Do you have any other projects going on that we should know about?
HARDWICK: Yeah. I’m presently in ARMY OF THE DEAD. Zack Snyder is the director, with me and David Bautista, Ella Purnell, Theo Rossi. I’m presently working on that really cool project. And then I go from that to a movie called SPELL. So I’m working, it’s happening.
AX: And what would you most like people to know about the final season of POWER?
HARDWICK: Chaos. Chaos, chaos, chaos. Some of the best acting and writing we’ve seen in all six seasons.
This interview was conducted during Starz’s party for the Summer 2019 Television Critics Association press tour.
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Article: Exclusive Interview with POWER star Omari Hardwick on the sixth and final season