‘Dark Blue’: Interview with Omari Hardwick (2010)

Poet, athlete, actor and, more specifically, supporting actor in TNT’s Dark Blue, Omari Hardwick paints the portrait of a man with perseverance. After studying off Broadway for several years in New York City, a move to Los Angeles in 2000 would lead to work as a security guard and substitute teacher. Sporadically living out of his car, Hardwick had reached an all time low. It wouldn’t be until several years later, in 2003, that he would land his first big break as a major role in the Spike Lee television series, Sucker Free City. Following much success within the coming years, Hardwick would return to his former home, the streets of Downtown LA, as supporting actor on the set of Dark Blue. In Dark Blue, Hardwick portrays the married undercover cop, Ty Curtis. Hardwick recently spoke with Working Author about his experiences on and off the set of Dark Blue.

Question: I was wondering what it is about your role on “Dark Blue” that really continues to challenge you?

Hardwick: Well I think that you know at least for me, it’s ever changing you know it’s ever growing in terms of Ty Curtis, and he’s somebody that we saw the first season, of course, pretty much attached to the balancing beam of being the husband and being the righteous provider, and then also being you know the provider for his task, and for his group and his team, and keeping that a priority, and making sure that he was the best cop he could possibly be.

But at the same time, the best husband he could be. And I think it’s a natural built-in challenge for me this year, of course, because of the basic – but I guess paramount changes that were made that will ultimately unfold you know to Ty as a character in terms of that balancing beam sort of being alleviated a little bit, and he doesn’t have the same pressures of being the husband that he did last year, at least, and this year, his priority has sort of increased to just being the cop that he signed up to be you know from the beginning.

And I think the writers are constantly challenging me as an actor to bring to Ty whatever they ask me to bring. I think the writers are equally as challenging as the character is, but it’s ever changing.

Question: What do you think – is it difficult playing your character sometimes sort of close to the best because you have to sort of keep part of the characters sort of hidden from what he’s really thinking going through until we see how the story plays out?

Hardwick: Yes, I think it’s a great question. Yes, I’ll speak first and foremost…that the fact that Ty was the character that it wasn’t the same mystery, so to speak, that surrounded Dean, and you knew more about Ty because of the fact that he was the actual one that painted the picture of American world, and that being the house and the wife (who was) working on kids…

And so obviously there were more things that you could pick from and relate to your own life, and I wasn’t – I don’t think – as mysterious a character as the other characters were. But I think it still was very much a challenge for me, and one that I took a lot of pride in keeping him as mysterious as possible you know not the built-in mystery that maybe surrounds Dean Bendis’ character, but Ty Curtis still needs an element of mystery, and for you not to know exactly what he’s thinking, particularly professionally, because he’s got a job at hand, and he’s still a grown man doing that job.

So you know all of his tricks cannot be let out of the bag, and I think it’s definitely as an actor, when you’re playing a character like that where everything’s not in the front of the house, but more so in the back of the house, I think it definitely is more so a challenge for you not to sort of spit it all out, and show all of your – all of your hand when you’re at the table. And I think it’s what keeps “Dark Blue” exciting I think for the most part, all of the characters have an element of mystery, and until it’s hatched, you don’t necessarily know what we have you know inside the egg.

Question: Definitely. Now can you share any stories about what goes on behind the scenes of “Dark Blue”?

Hardwick: Well…I am speaking to all of you from an undisclosed spot in the canyons of Los Angeles, California…in the back yard of my cast mate, Dylan McDermott. So definitely what goes on behind the scenes is us hanging out.

…There’s a lot of joking, there’s a lot of camaraderie, there’s a lot of locker room banter that takes place off the set, at least between the guys, and even between Nicki and Tricia as well. But my week proceeds as such, I started out yesterday with lunch with Logan, I did a bike ride this morning with Dylan, and now I’m speaking to you guys. I am going out tonight to have a drink with Nicki, and then I think I’m doing next week a motorcycle ride with Tricia.

So at least for me you know in real life, Omari Hardwick is a middle child. So maybe Ty or the Omari that plays Ty is the same thing when it comes to the environment off the set you know I kind of think that if it’s cut and we go back to our trailers, I think it’s a beautiful sight to see that we actually get along, and that we hang out, and you know we have our moments of letting the directors and the writers feel our frustration with certain things that are (happen) on the set. But that’s to be expected.

But otherwise, it’s a pretty light environment, because the content, of course, of what we’re portraying every Wednesday is so heavy. So I would say that it’s a light environment, and maybe very reflective of what actual undercover cops go through. You know I think there’s a lot of banter and a lot of joking and a lot of off the job camaraderie that they have to abide by as well to be able to stay sane.

Dark Blue airs weekly on TNT at 9PM or 8PM central.