Curtis "50 Cent" Jackson has explored his rough past through music before. Now he's using his passion for storytelling in a different medium, with Starz's upcoming drama Power.
In the new series, premiering Saturday at 9/8c, successful New York City nightclub owner James "Ghost" St. Patrick (Omari Hardwick) doubles as a commanding drug kingpin. But as he tries to leave his criminal life behind and turn his legitimate profession into an empire, his illegal business comes under attack putting it all at risk.
From the beginning of the first episode, viewers are introduced to two very opposing sides of Ghost. On the one hand, Ghost is a family man with expensive clothes and a lavish lifestyle. On the other, he's a cold-blooded killer running with the most dangerous of crowds. The duality in Ghost, as well as most of the other main characters, is exactly what series creator Courtney Kemp Agboh set out to explore with her unlikely collaborator, rapper and businessman Jackson.
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"I wanted to write about ... this idea that perception is reality and what you look like is what people think you are," Agboh tells TVGuide.com. "[Jackson and executive producer Mark Canton] wanted to make a show that was gritty and music driven and had some aspects of his background. We both looked at Manhattan as the place to get to so you can succeed." Adds Jackson, "You see [Ghost's] journey coming from nothing to the top, and having only made it because he has a business savvy that other guys don't. [It's about] that internal struggle of when you make a decision, but there was another route you could've taken. Was that the right decision? You question it."
Among those pulling Ghost in different directions are his childhood best friend and ride-hand-man Tommy (Joseph Sikora), Ghost's complicit wife Tasha (Naturi Naughton), and ex-flame Angela (Lela Loren) who represents the idea that Ghost could've gotten out of their neighborhood without breaking the law. As Hardwick explains, it's the love of these three people alongside the love of power and the love of himself that has Ghost trapped. "I don't know if this can balance it all [and] I don't know if he knows how to end it," he says.
Although it's clear that Ghost and Tommy have a brotherhood dating back to childhood, they're at a crossroads despite fierce loyalty to each other. "Both of them had the same original dream, why can't both of them ultimately adopt a new dream together? But the new dream [Tommy] doesn't find that interesting," Sikora says. Adds Agboh, "Sometimes you see people who are famous and they come from 'the environment' and they don't leave those people behind. But there are some fellas you shouldn't keep. People around Ghost say, 'Let go of him,' but there's love there and part of the show is about brotherhood."
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While Jackson admits "there were points I was so invested in this project I was going to play Ghost," he decided to take on the much smaller part of Kanan, Ghost's old friend who's now incarcerated. "He kind of showed [Ghost] the ropes and the aggressive stuff that you see from Tommy comes from the way [Kanan] showed him how to do things," he says.
For Hardwick, the similarity in backgrounds that he and Jackson both come from is what ultimately guided him towards the role. "There are so many elements of [Jackson's] backstory that surrounded my life growing up," Hardwick says. "When he told me he thought about me playing this role after he saw me in [2012's Sparkle], he didn't realize that in that movie the character I created was after my brother was murdered. That's the life I used to have to run from and ironically it's the same life that got me this job."
Power premieres on Saturday at 9/8c on Starz.
Watch a sneak peek of the series: