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Abu Dhabi, UAEWednesday 3 March 2021

Why Method Man is calling on screenwriters to not 'put a colour' on characters

The rapper and actor plays a slick lawyer in the hit crime drama 'Power Book II: Ghost'

Method Man as the hot shot lawyer Davis McLean. Starzplay
Method Man as the hot shot lawyer Davis McLean. Starzplay

Despite Wu-tang Clan’s explosive show at Dubai’s Sole DXB festival in 2019, fans knew there was something missing.

While the hip-hop crew were mostly on point with a trademark raucous set, the performance lacked some of the verbal flair and precision only absent member Method Man could deliver.

The reason he wasn’t on the plane, he reveals to The National, was his starring role in the gritty television crime series Power Book II: Ghost, a spin-off the hit crime drama Ghost.

“I had to be on set so I couldn’t make it,” he says. "I was ecstatic to be part of this amazing cast and show. Everybody on set stepped up and did their thing."

With the series finally completing its weekly streaming run on Starzplay, viewers can now binge watch the entire 10 episodes.

Not only do the new episodes, which centre on the family of nightclub owner James "Ghost" St Patrick, kick off directly after the cliffhanger of the 2019 season finale of Ghost, but come with fresh characters as we follow Ghost’s son, Tariq (played by Michael Rainey Jr), as he enters the murky family business.

A killer instinct

One of those new faces is Method Man, 49, who plays hot-shot lawyer Davis McLean. Smooth, suited up and with a killer instinct in the courtroom, the rapper – real name Clifford Smith Jr – is a revelation in a rightfully acclaimed performance.

It may look like a completely different world, but Method Man explains McLean wasn’t too far away from his tough street-music persona.

“He is slick but very astute. You can tell he has some of that street element in him and that being in a professional setting comes natural to him,” he says. “The character’s sole objective is to win. This is why he wears the fine suits, the shoes and the watches.”

More than the chance to extend his acting range, which includes well-received roles in dramas CSI: Crime Scene Investigation and The Wire, Method Man was drawn to the aspirational quality of Power Book II: Ghost.

L-R: Method Man and Naturi Naughton star in crme drama ‘Power Book II: Ghost.' Starzplay
Method Man and Naturi Naughton star in crime drama ‘Power Book II: Ghost.' Starzplay

On script, it may read like a standard crime drama with morally conflicted characters, but he puts the success of the whole Ghost franchise (which has other shows in the works) down to actors from American minority backgrounds playing confident roles.

It may be entertainment, he states, but it’s nonetheless powerful.

“There are kids that grew up watching hood movies and all they ever saw were gangsters being ruthless and having no kind of moral compass or code,” he says.

“By seeing this show, they may think that there is something after this and that they can use their mind and run an actual business.”

Looking beyond colour

That ambitious message is not only pointed at the younger generation, he says, but to casting agents and screenwriters who continue to offer actors of colour limited options.

As an actor for more than two decades, Method Man recalls plenty of script offers and auditions beginning on the wrong note.

"I would get character descriptions that would normally begin 'black male, forties', and I felt that if they could just describe the character without putting a colour on it, that would open up a whole different thing and everybody can read for that part," he says.

"There shouldn't be an assumption that if you are casting a doctor it has to be a white male.”

First class all the way

Certain assumptions, however, remain alluring.

And that’s Method Man’s view of Dubai’s world-famous nightlife and club scene.

Excited by glitzy anecdotes of fellow artists and celebrities who have visited the emirate, he says he can’t wait to perform in Dubai as part of a formidable hip-hop duo with revered rapper Red Man.

There is a caveat, however.

Interested parties need to lay down the lavish Dubai hospitality Method Man has so often heard about.

"I want to come to Dubai the same way all the rest of the stars do," he says.

"I am talking about the private jet, the gold car picking me up right there from the jet and taking me to my spot. That's the Dubai I want to see because I seen it happen with these other stars that put in only half the work I put in. So yeah, Dubai, I am ready."

You can watch all episodes of Power Book II: Ghost on StarzPlay. For more information visit arabia.starzplay.com

Published: January 17, 2021 08:32 AM

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