In the wake of last night’s explosive Book of Power II: GhosIn the Season 2 premiere, the cast portraying the series’ big villains, Larenz Tate and Shane Johnson, open up about being anti-heroes in Starz’s hit crime drama series.
Even though the Power Universe focuses on the inter-personal stories and dramas of murderous drug traffickers and others engaging in illegal activity, the characters of Tate and Johnson, City Councilor Rashad Tate and FBI Agent-turned-Lawyer, respectively. Cooper Saxe Defense, are the villainous antagonists of the series.
While the irony isn’t lost on either of them, for Johnson it all depends on what’s central to everything that makes a true villain.
“In Saxony’s mind he is the hero and not everyone has understood him yet. But they will! Johnson joked. “As you say, this is a show of dark heroes.”
Johnson compares the viewing experience to that of one of his favorite shows, Showtime’s Dexter, in which audiences literally end up looking for a serial killer to get away with one murder every week.
“What separates the good guys from the bad guys on our show are really motivators,” he added. “Like Tariq, does he just want to be powerful and rich, or is it for his family?” Is it to protect his mother and sister? Giving him that at the base allows him to play any game he needs to provide that.
“For me, it’s really nice to be able to play a character who has the complexities of Rashad Tate,” Tate said of his villainous role. “He’s incredibly determined, he’s driven, in his mind he deserves a public office, he deserves to have a platform to use his voice, influence and resources to make a difference around him,” but underneath it has programs, as we think most politicians do, ”he said with a laugh.
“But what it’s really about is that it’s really not what’s on the surface. It’s not just about the underworld and drug trafficking, ”Tate adds. “It’s really about the family, the friendships and the camaraderie that people can relate to in everyday life. It’s just that their professions or the decisions they make based on their circumstances present them in a negative light, a stigma or a stereotype. ”
Speaking of family, Tate has the rare opportunity to see his real brother Lahmard Tate portray his on-screen brother, Kamaal Tate, in the series. He says he’s very lucky and appreciates showrunner Courtney Kemp and the rest of the Power team for making something so big happen.
“Thanks to Courtney Kemp for appreciating what I bring, for enjoying my career and for using me on the show,” he said. “I must also shout it and all those who played a role in the arrival of my brother Lahmard Tate who plays Kamaal. It’s really nice to work with my brother. I am really happy.
Thanks to the longevity of his career, the eternal Tate is in the rare position of being an idol and a sex symbol for several generations of women. It has been a classic of cultural cinema for almost 30 years at this point. When asked how he felt about everyone from grandmothers to college kids being drawn to him, he replied that he was taking charge of everything.
“I am grateful to be seen in this space, and what can I say? ” he’s blushing. “It has been a fantastic journey to be on a show that continues to push the boundaries and continues to elevate the storytelling. I’m happy to keep doing what I love to do.
Johnson noted that by acting alongside him, he sees that Tate’s longevity as an on-screen object of attraction is a testament to his ability as an actor.
“This guy really cuts out a scene and uplifts the material, and really uplifts everyone around him,” Johnson said of Tate’s ability. “He might be sexy and all that, but he can act. And that’s what impresses me because a lot of people can look good, but not a lot of people can break down.
Power Book II: Ghost airs Sundays on Starz.