In today's must-read: Omari Hardwick sits down for an extended interview at IndieWire's "Shadow and Act." Hardwick played the closeted gay husband of Janet Jackson's character in Tyler Perry's For Colored Girls. Hardwick was asked to share his character motivation ... and it sounds like he is saying "pause."
"I can’t relate to being gay. It was a challenging role. It's challenging because I'm Black," said Hardwick, who was quoted as repeatedly saying that he focused on "being a deviant person."
Shadow and Act: How was it a challenge?
OH: It was a challenging role for me because I am a black guy. And white guys like Heath Ledger and Jake Gyllenhaal can play those types of roles and their audiences will say that the roles are artistic.
Shadow and Act: So you feel that the role was challenging because the black community does not support roles like Carl?
OH: The black culture perceives roles like that one in a negative light.
OH: I focused on being a deviant person. I focused on doing something wrong. I was lying to my wife. I was lying to these men. I prepared for the role by closing my eyes and thinking of times when I had lied.
Shadow and Act: You did not focus on the sexual orientation of Carl to get into character?
OH: No, because it’s like how could I do that really well? I focused on being deviant.
Shadow and Act: Did you tap into your own sexuality to build the role?
OH: You want me to explain how I used my heterosexuality to build this role?
Shadow and Act: Yes, I do.
OH: Okay, let me know if this is what you mean. There was this one time while we were filming in New York, where I was testing myself. I challenged myself to run through Central Park and behave like Carl. I wanted to see how I would run and live differently as my character.
Shadow and Act: And what did you find out about your character during this run?
OH: I did not get through the run without checking out women. It’s a natural instinct. So, that’s why I solely focused on being deviant. But you know what? Some of the greatest actors have played gay men. Anthony [Mackie] has played a gay man. Jeffrey has played gay. When it’s all said and done, I am secure enough with my manhood to say to the world, 'I am a male actor, and its okay for me to play a gay man.'
Does it sound like Hardwick is very "secure" in his manhood? Sounds like he repeatedly is stressing that he is straight. Not sure why—well, okay. Did he mean that white actors can take on gay roles without negative repercussions ... and not Black actors not so much?
And why keep using the word "deviant"? Gay men—closeted or otherwise—are not "deviant." Perhaps he meant or said "devious" and this was just a poorly transcribed—and poorly written—article.
Curious to hear your thoughts.