Interview: Omari Hardwick

From the interview archives.


Omari Hardwick currently stars as Ghost in Power which is making it’s way through Season 4 on the Starz TV network, and you may recognize him from his roles on series like Being Mary Jane and Dark Blue. VULKAN caught up with Omari to talk about his newly released prison crime film Shot Caller and his upcoming role in Boot Riley’s Sorry To Bother You.

You’re appearing in the film Shot Caller to be released on August 18th, a prison crime film. What can you tell us about your role as Money’s parole officer? Why did he feel compelled to get into this line of work?

Ed Kutcher is your run-of-the-mill parole officer at a maximum security prison, where inmates range from monstrous types to the most fish-out-of-water types, like Jacob. Jacob, played by Nikolaj Coster-Waldau, who is on his quest to survive the harsh realities of having to exist with the “big boys.” My character is on a similar quest to survive, but to also do his best in reforming all of these men. He is suffering tremendously from PTSD, and after a very intense injury inflicted by a evil man, his stress disorder just continues to intensify.

How does his relationship to Money develop? Is he a very strict officer that lacks compassion for Money or does he want to see Money do well and succeed in his life going forward?

He wants to see Money do well and succeed, as he is one of the righteous characters of the film and is all about reformation. My character has taken a liking to Money because he sees himself in Money in many ways. They are both just trying to hold on and do what is right, but their passions have left them both in very uncompromising positions. 

Did you meet with any active parole officers to get ready for this role and gain a greater understanding of the responsibilities they hold?

Yes, I spent a lot of time with a one Eric Kraus, who is a special agent in the state of California. Eric was beneficial to both Benjamin Bratt and myself in delving into the psyche of a parole officer. He allowed us a peek into the human side of these types of men. I have shadowed fellow Eric’s in the past on other jobs where I’ve played similar characters of law enforcement. 

Speaking of prison-related roles….. in POWER your character Ghost has been booked for murder. What’s going through Ghost’s mind right now?

Ironically, and very similar to Money’s situation, Ghost is simply trying to survive. It is the first time in four seasons we’ve found him at a loss for thoughts and ideas on how to get out of this uncompromising situation. 

Things seem to be getting progressively worse for Ghost this season. How is he going to handle the pressure of his situation? What or who is keeping him going at this point?

He is on a quiet, desperate fight to get back to his family. The caveat is whether he can remain James, as opposed to Ghost. He’s clinging on to the hope that the ability of his attorney Joe Proctor (played by Jerry Ferrara) will help him, and staying hopeful that maintaining the spirit of the businessman James will allow him to survive the wolves he’s forced to call fellow inmates.

How important do you think education and extracurricular activities are to ensuring young kids don’t get involved in gangs and illegal activities?

Extracurricular activities are paramount for kids to stay focused and headed in the right direction. Sports were so pivotal in my life as a young person, and if I wasn’t doing sports at that age, I would have been involved in music. Any form of productive extracurricular activity is the safest bet to allow children to have a productive future and to be productive citizens. It may sound hokey, but education imbues kids with a level of self-confidence and self-worth where it becomes easier for them to understand the consequences of their wrongdoings.

 I also understand you’re a poetry writer. Younger kids often shy away from poetry, what might you say to those kids to encourage them to write?

When someone shies away from poetry, it can be like shying away from themselves. I have learned in 30+ years of writing that everybody has a poem inside of them, the sooner you learn to write it, the freer you are and ultimately….the  stronger.  

You’ll also be appearing in a comedic sci-fi movie called Sorry to Bother You, Boots Riley’s directorial debut, can you give us any insight to the film? Are you excited to work with Boots?

First off, the film is brilliant. Boots Riley is an activist-meets-director, and he has created a film that is dark, comical, surreal, and ultimately groundbreaking. It is a symbolic take on the corporate structure of our society and the trappings of it if individuals working in it do not contain within in themselves a solid structure. My character is this whimsical magician, filled with clarity and sound advice. Boots was a pleasure to work with, and so was the superb cast he put together. It was also my first time working with childhood friend and mega ex-agent, and now Oscar nominated producer, Charles King.

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