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Omari Hardwick Talks 'Power' Season 2, The Show's Unexpected Success + More

"I’m extremely blown away and flattered"

After weeks of media build-up and fan anticipation, the second season of Power premiered this past Saturday — and in a major way. The premiere seamlessly picked up right where season one left off. Re-immersing viewers back into the chaotic world of drug kingpin James "Ghost" St. Patrick — played by star Omari Hardwick.

We spoke to Omari about Ghost's approach heading into the new season, his personal involvement when in comes to character development, thoughts on episode one's defining scene — plus more.

Last season's theme seemed to be centered around transformation, Ghost attempting to leave his old world behind him. What's the theme this season?

I would say this season, the theme is the walls are closing in and how capable he is of keeping the walls at bay before they crush him. The walls being all the characters that he’s hurt, all the situations that haven’t necessarily gone the way that he’s wanted them to go. That he’s been deceitful in or done that “Ghost” thing — and outsmarted everybody he thought he got away with outsmarting. Season two shows perhaps those things he thought he got away with, he didn’t necessarily get away with — and so it’s a season of him having to pay those consequences. The other characters at times have to pay their own level of consequences as well.

What was Ghost’s biggest misstep in season 1?

Definitely the affair! A reader could say “well Omari he sells drugs — he is an illegal narcotics distributor throughout one of the largest cities in America.” But you know, I think he’s rooted for in a very empathetic way and hopefully I continue to bring whatever allows him to be rooted for — which is a task because he’s written as a “bad guy.” He’s just a little boy with a dream, he wasn’t trying to be a drug dealer. Tommy wanted to be a drug dealer — or Tommy wanted to matter I should say, and the way he learned to matter was obviously being under the wing of Kanan who taught us how to deal drugs.

For Ghost it’s not that, he really wants to dream of other things. So the misstep is that all of those other things that he could’ve still worked out while having been this drug dealer. Kings have been beheaded because of women, so his big misstep was obviously that to me.

When Ghost goes to visit Angie at the end of episode one he has a look on his face that seems to say he has mind made up. What has Ghost decided in his mind?

He’s made a decision to leak parts of his Ghost this season to her [Angela], where all she knew season one was Jamie. The way that I played it was not necessarily now I’m thinking what Tommy is thinking which is, “you need to be removed from the Earth.” It was not necessarily go to this thought of I don’t care what Tommy’s saying I’m gonna fully just be this woman’s “Jamie” and we’re gonna run off into the sunset and be each other’s everything. It wasn't either one of those things, it was I was able to give this front, this mask, this thing that was my representative of sorts at first. I was able to successfully do it for a while, for some months.

That representative was Jamie, even though Jamie is true to who he was as a kid, that’s the representative if obviously he don't want to show Ghost. James is who she sees because she’s a corporate, adult, professional woman so obviously she can see James as this this person bringing home checks but Jamie is who she’s in love with. So I think the choice that I decided to go with is, you this season will no longer just have Jamie! You’re going to have to deal with seeing Ghost at times and that’s the only decision I decided to go with.

So that the audience doesn’t have any idea what’s going to happen after episode one. They at least know that’s a look in his eye that wasn’t necessarily shown in season one where the only look that she got from him was that of Jamie. I think I wanted the world to know she might be getting a little bit of her Ghost cause she asked for it. From what Tommy just told me, she’s asking for a little Ghost, so that was the choice.

Outside of the actual portrayal of Ghost; how much input do you have on your character? Do you leave it simply to the writers or is it something that you're a part of before it goes to shooting?

An awesome, great question — and you know what? It’s never been asked of me and I’ve had eight thousand interviews about Ghost. I think for Courtney [Kemp Agboh] she thought that "I can’t have a guy that plays this part and not really a smart guy.” So for years she obviously wasn’t only watching the work of as an actor but perhaps at times just watching me and watching me as a writer and obviously as a poet. But as a writer and maybe just the way that I thought about certain things in interviews or what have you. You don’t go to church and tell the choir how to sing if you’re a visitor.

So without stepping on the writer’s feet and honoring the writer perhaps maybe because I have more of a gravitas towards the writer ironically I always say acting is overrated if the writing is great. I went in like it was a church that had it’s own choir singing their own tune and wherever I felt like I could sort of fit in, or implement my own thoughts, or ways of saying something that I felt was a lot more truthful — a lot more authentic. Run it by Curtis, run it by Courtney they both will weight open to it at times and at times Courtney [Kemp Agboh] has even gone so far as to say “you’re right Omari.” It’s been really cool — she’s allowed me to be a part of it for sure.

Are you in any way surprised by how well the show has been received?

Curtis goes “no I knew, which is why I told Omari he had to do it.” If I had any hesitancy which I did at first, between he and Courtney they were the two that beat me up over the head like “are you crazy!?” Maybe it’s me being an athlete bro, sometimes I’m always looking for the fallout. I’m always like well let’s not rest on a critical acclaim, or on a incredible review, or on a great reception. I tend to want to put my fingers over my ears and not hear all of that, not hear that there are so many fans.

I’m extremely blown away and flattered and in love with the show I signed up for, and in love with the fact that the fans are in love with it! But there is a part of me that is definitely surprised, I mean I had to toast the fact that we’re headed into probably 97-99.99% a season three and I never done three seasons of a show. Dark Blue was a really solid show and it stopped at season two. This is a big deal for me but I’m a little surprised because of that.

Both Omari and Power fans alike may want to strap on their seat belts because this action-packed ride may go longer than anticipated.