Let’s start with a quick spoiler alert from the most recent episode of Power: Kanan Stark, played by 50 Cent, is dead. The shocking death has left fans reeling. No one saw it coming, especially as 50 Cent and Power have been inextricably linked for the last five years.
On her recent track "Barbie Dreams," Nicki Minaj joked that 50 was more interested in talking about Power than he is anything else.
“Is that true?” I ask.
“Man, that was just a good line,” he says.
50 Cent is more than just an actor on the show. From its inception, it was pushed first and foremost as ‘from Executive Producer 50 Cent’—it was his credibility as a musician, and his violent past and experiences with the same material that Power touches upon that brought audiences in, and helped make the show a quiet phenomenon.
Courtney Kemp, a writer on The Good Wife, was Power’s creator, and continues to lead it as showrunner. Part of the success that the two have found together comes from the way that Kemp collaborates with 50, listening intently to his every idea, and finding a way to make his contributions matter more than just a rubber stamp of approval in the show’s credits and promotional materials.
“I think when you can support the idea before there’s any reason for you to support it, that all artists will really listen to you following that. In the beginning, when we started creating it, it was one thing, but then afterwards, from the very beginning, and the little input I would say about things, she kept putting it into the project, making sure that she added those things,” says 50.
“When I said things that stood out to her, she’d stop and go, say that again? Then she’d go and put it in the actual show. It was her discretion how and where but she would listen to the things that I’m saying, and keep putting it into the show.”
Power, available in the region exclusively on Starz Play, tells the story of James St. Patrick, a nightclub owner who is also a ruthless crime boss under the name of Ghost. Think Al Pacino’s classic Carlito’s Way, though instead of sincerely trying to get out of his life of crime, James St. Patrick always talks about wanting to, but always lets himself get pulled back in. Ghost inherited his crime empire from his mentor, a man named Kanan, played by 50 Cent. In the fifth season, Kanan is trying to establish his own empire once again—which leads to his untimely end.
Early in the show, Kanan was the main villain—back from prison, trying to get revenge on the man who took his life away from him, his former protégée. By season five, he is more of an antihero the audience wants to cheer for. In 50’s mind, that switch wasn’t in the character, it was in what the audience was shown to understand him.
Why do they hate a character? “When they don’t see you love anything. When they don’t see things that they identify,” 50 says. “They don’t have any compassion for the character at that point.”
“In the beginning, when Kanan was the villain, he was going after what he wanted. He had already been wronged by Ghost. He was still being viewed as the villain. Meanwhile, the Ghost character killed someone in the first episode and everybody loved him, because they could identify with him wanting to change his lifestyle.”
“Kanan didn’t want to change his lifestyle, he wanted it back the way that it was, you know what I mean? Because he was pushed out of the slot. They had all the compassion in the world for Ghost because after being a success and doing whatever he needed to get there, he was looking around saying maybe I could have done it a different way,” 50 explains.
50 Cent as an actor feels that, at this point, he’s entrenched enough in his character that he’s no longer thinking about other actors, like his hero Robert De Niro, or even drawing from his own life.
“At this point I’m not using my experiences. In season five, performing as the character for five years, you feel like you know the character, how they respond under certain circumstances,” he says.
He’s not the only actor who has felt that way on set this season. Other performers with similar levels of comfort in their characters now feel the need to push back when the script doesn’t match their idea of their character—much to the annoyance of one 50 Cent.
“It gets easier, but it gets more difficult dealing with other acting talent feeling like they know what the script should say instead of what the script says. At this point in year five they’ll come in and say, he wouldn’t say this! He wouldn’t do this! I’m like, agh! I understand how you feel but you’re going to have to compromise and do what is in the print!” 50 says.
50 Cent’s time in front of the camera on Power may be over, but that doesn’t mean he is going away. He continues to be the show’s executive producer, and has left the door open for a twist return.
As 50 Cent said on Instagram: “RIP Kanan Stark…or maybe not…”
- New episodes of Power season 5 are available every Monday on Starz Play Arabia -