Known for his roles in Kick-Ass, The A-Team, and BET original series Being Mary Jane, Omari Hardwick’s latest character might be his best yet. As James “Ghost” St. Patrick in the Starz series, Power, Hardwick plays a nightclub owner who doubles as a big-time drug distributor in New York City (think Pablo Escobar or Frank Lucas). Living what seems like the perfect life, Ghost sees his nightclub as an escape from his dark past and a chance at a legitimate business. While many have explored the world of dark drug lords trying to make good, Hardwick believes there’s an innate charisma to his character that draws people in. “I think you’re always going to gravitate toward the bad guy even if you think that means restoring or repairing him,” Hardwick explained. VH1 spoke with the actor as he waxed poetic on his respect for executive producer 50 Cent, prepping for his Being Mary Jane co-star Gabrielle Union’s wedding (no big deal), and what’s next for Ghost in season two. If you’re catching up on the Starz series, here are seven things to know about Hardwick before tomorrow’s season one finale.
He sees 50 Cent more like a brother than a multi-million dollar rapper.
It almost seems like he’s hungry to make his first dollar at all times that you’re around him, which is pretty amazing. For me, working for him was obviously different. You get a little bit of a leg up when you’re number one on the call sheet in terms of the personal [attention] you get. So we became really, really close — more like brothers. The gift that I gave him [at the end of shooting] reflected that chemistry we just feel like we’ve always had. It was a picture of the two of us at eight years of age and I got it painted — the two of us at eight years old with arms around each other in front a graffiti-clad New York wall. He’s holding an animal — I think it’s a wolf — with a leash and I’m holding an eagle with a leash. Within maybe 60 seconds of him going crazy when I presented it to him, he immediately went into, like, “OK, you know what we should do O? We should get your poetry with artists that you want to work with. Make a show, make a book…” His mind immediately went… he immediately went into how to market it, how to make money from it. We definitely match each other. He’s an interesting cat, to say the least and that’s a good thing.
He’s impressed by his boss’ acting ability.
What’s great about him is that he’s got a high level of intensity, enormous amounts of pain, [and] he has a lot of joy like he’s a kid — those are three major tools that you need. And he’s minimal… I know Omari is extra at times, off camera. But when you get that quiet 50 on camera, it’s because in real life, he’s a very focused, quiet meditative individual who’s going to get whatever he needs to get. Animal Ambition, as he appropriately named his album. He’s got all the tools, and when you watch him in certain episodes… in episode three, you see that. Last week’s episode was pretty amazing when I got to just personally sit back and quietly watch his work. I was pretty impressed.
Ghost is becoming more of an island, yet finds it difficult to let go of his high school sweetheart Angela.
You won’t see as much physical camaraderie between Tommy — played brilliantly by Joe Sikora — and Ghost. We both will be an island of our own. I think season two is more about separation between a lot of characters so that we can find our way back. With Angela, they were [together] since 15 years of age and obviously remained connected even when they weren’t around each other. So I think it’s going to be hard for all of us to let go of each other and the triangle will go where it may but I think that Naturi Naugton’s character (Tasha) will at least have some ability to be rooted for because she won’t allow herself to be a doormat.
He wants Ghost to get his life together.
[I want him] to get away, to go back to square one. Go to the basement of someone that you know can protect you — even if it means having people on watch and going to a Southside Jamaica, Queens basement of sorts. If that means figuratively going there, [then] just get back to a place of trying to re-group your life. That’s the advice I would give him: To just [be] alone, which hopefully isn’t something that’s unwatchable. Maybe it is watchable to see this man really try to figure out how to break bad a la Bryan Cranston and what he did with Walter White. [It would be interesting] if we could see him just go back to this place and be a kid again — be broken down before becoming strong again.
He thinks Gabrielle Union is hilarious and doesn’t mind those awkward sex scenes.
It was a fun experience [on Being Mary Jane] because she laughs a lot as well—[she’s a] funny girl, quick-witted, smart. We really laughed a lot, and were following the [NBA] playoffs at the same time. Obviously, I’m a sports fanatic and she was following the run of the Heat during that time, so it was cool. We had a lot of rapport on set for sure… I was invited—to every birthday party and the wedding and everything. We still very much stay in contact with each other and do all of those, “You good? Yeah I’m good.” It’s all there.
It’s never easy to do a basic sex scene, let alone one when you’re literally lifting people on walls and they’re with a significant other and you’re with a significant other. I mean, no, we would at times be like, “Mar [Mara Brock Akil], Salim [Salim Akil], are y’all kidding me? We gotta do this?” We used to say Mar and Salim were acting out their sexual fantasies [through] us. “Oh, y’all are trying to get us to do some things that y’all ain’t done at home? Y’all want a checklist? We’re supposed to complete the checklist? OK, cool.”
He envies Ghost’s style.
I wish I had his suit game, I wish I had his coolness at times. Something about it is cool — I think that sort of rebel with a cause [element] that Ghost has… I wouldn’t have done the show if [Power creator] Courtney [Kemp Agboh didn’t think that it actually is an intention of working some things out; there’s a method to Ghost’s madness. I think that’s the thing I would love to impart in my own life a little bit more. It’s ironic. [but] maybe being an actor doesn’t allow you be as cool as him.
Don’t expect to see his character come back full-time on Being Mary Jane.
You will have to sit and wait, but I think that Courtney [Kemp Agboh] and some other people might be really upset if I came back, came back [to Being Mary Jane]. That would be really difficult, I think. I’ve never had to go into the places that I have to go to play Ghost.