Omari Hardwick and Lela Loren, the leads for the Starz original series “Power,” have found a recipe for success when it comes to the authenticity of their graphic sex scenes: salami.
Loren, who plays Angela Valdes, a United States district attorney involved in a steamy love affair with Hardwick’s character, James “Ghost” St. Patrick, explains how the pair get into their comfort zone before filming a sex scene: “We’ll eat gross things to piss each other off,” she says.
Those odors are not apparent when the two appear on film in scenes that could even make the most outlandish exhibitionist blush.
The second season of the pay-cable channel drama begins on June 6.
Hardwick, who plays a big time drug dealer and owner of Truth nightclub in New York City, confessed that both actors “don’t brush our teeth for hours” before going in front of the cameras.
Loren is the mastermind behind it, Hardwick says.
“She does that,” he said about eating nasty food beforehand. “Don’t be saying ‘we.’”
She playfully disagrees.
“We have a lot of chemistry but it’s childlike, teasing, play-with-you chemistry, mixed with trust,” Loren says. Hardwick adds: “Mixed with great writing.”
That starts at the top with the show’s creator, Courtney Kemp Agboh. “I really believe in... storytelling where you come in and out of certain characters and tell those stories,” she says.
Another big part of the “Power” matrix is executive producer, Curtis “50 Cent” Jackson, who also stars as Kanan, a drug dealer who was released from prison after 10 long years at the end of season one.
“I’ve been closer to this project than any other project I’ve been on because of the process with me and Courtney from the very beginning,” says the rapper, who in real life this week is facing legal woes of his own.
The “In da Club” singer ducked what could have been a costly lawsuit over a sex tape — by filing for bankruptcy just minutes before the Manhattan trial was scheduled to start last Tuesday.
But “Power” has got to be a healthy distraction from such legal wrangling.
More than anything, he wants to be taken seriously as an actor. “My acting performance in this season is going to show people new things,” he said.
Co-star Joseph Sikora — who plays Ghost’s sidekick, Tommy Egan — agrees.
“He’s an excellent actor,” he said.
“The essential thing to have in acting, to me, is truth telling,” Sikora continued. “And 50 has, just like Mark Wahlberg, that same gift of telling the truth. 50 sits there, you look into his eyes, and you get a different response every time. He’s probably an editor’s nightmare, but he’s an actor's dream.”
50 Cent says the show is nothing less than living out his dream to tell a story that taps into his own upbringing in Queens, New York.
“When you see Ghost trying to get away from it, it’s because he knows there’s no old folks home (in the drug game),” he says.
“It’s (Ghost) wanting to do something different. He’s saying, ‘If I went the legit way I could have been successful’ and Angela is a representation of that.”
At the same time, Ghost’s wife, Tasha St. Patrick, (Naturi Naughton) continues to steer him back to the crime-fueld life they’ve always known.
“She’s not the wife that’s like naive or like ‘Oh my gosh, honey get out the game,’” Naughton described. “She’s kind of a part of it. So she’s just as hard and just as gangsta as Ghost is.”
Still, she keeps it sexy.
“She’s so much of a lady from head-to-toe in clothes and diamonds and pearls, but yet she will pull out a Glock in two seconds,” Naughton says .
“People are probably screaming at the television because they know what it feels like as a woman to be standing by your man and to be ride or die, to be the woman who’s like, ‘All right, I know you’re not perfect but I still love you and I’m going to make it work with you,’” she said.
And then finding out the man she’d die for is cheating with someone else.
She’s happy that series like “Power” and Fox’s “Empire” are proving how important it is to provide strong roles for women.
“I definitely think it’s nice to see more strong female characters,” Naughton says.
Agboh agrees and emphasizes that importance of women behind the scenes.
“It’s really important because we get to put more nuanced portrayals on screen,” she said. “I also think it’s good for younger women and people of color to see me and say, ‘Oh I can do that.’ When I was a young woman I didn’t know this job existed so I had to find my way to it.”
50 Cent says more important roles for women is great, but credits the show’s popularity to its well-written characters — and their portrayal.
“Life is so full of choices that this show could have been called choices instead of power,” he said.