In taking on the lead role in the Starz drama "Power" -- as James "Ghost" St. Patrick, a man living a double life as a drug dealer and glitzy nightclub owner -- Omari Hardwick had to perform some horrible deeds: shooting his rivals, manipulating his friends and enemies, cheating on his wife, lying to his children.
But the actor said he still felt a connection to his personal spirituality in playing the part, which came after years of landing mostly supporting roles in several films and TV series.
"My wife had prayed two months prior to meeting about the show that my career should be in another place," Hardwick said in a phone interview from the New Mexico set of Netflix's "Army of the Dead." "She had prayed, 'God, please give this man the power to embrace his power over the industry and to embrace his gifts.' It turned into a power surge and changed my life. When I look at it, physically, spiritually, mentally, I absolutely left every drop on the field that I could leave."
The role of Ghost was one he came very close to turning down.
The day he was to meet with producers, he was dealing with a family tragedy.
"I had said no initially," he said. "I had just put a dog to rest that was very integral to our lives. We had lost a child some years prior, and it was the dog I had gotten for my wife when that happened. It was very special to us. The dog was our first child. And I had to put the dog to sleep the day I was to have a meeting about being in 'Power.' I really couldn't do the meeting."
The couple went to the Cayman Islands for a vacation soon after, and Hardwick's wife reminded him of the aborted meeting. "She came from the business, a former producer and publicist. She has a keen awareness of what I should take heed to."
His manager reestablished contact with Courtney A. Kemp, the creator of the series; executive producer Curtis "50 Cent" Jackson; and Anthony Hemingway, who directed the first two episodes.
"It was clear to me after all those meetings," Hardwick said, "that I was not only meant for the show but for the role, and that no one else could have played Ghost but me. I felt my ability could fill his shoes. I think about that. I tried to wear him like a coat, and to give this dude as much empathy as possible. He's an antihero hero. And I embraced his power."
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