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Joseph Sikora: “Tommy Egan in Power Book 4 is not unlike Al Capone”

Joseph Sikora returns as Tommy Egan for Power Book 4: Force - we ask him about the role, bringing Power to Chicago, and Ozark season 4

Joseph Sikora as Tommy Egan in Power Book 4: Force

Tommy Egan makes his grand return in Power Book 4: Force. After a breather from the role, Joseph Sikora has come to the TV series rejuvenated and ready to see what’s next after Tommy’s cut ties with New York.

The first destination is Chicago, and although he has bigger plans to start with, Tommy gets a little distracted. In typical form, he’s soon making enemies, like Tommy Flanagan‘s Walter Hill, an Irish crime boss that’ll have nobody disrupting his business. Tommy’s as good at making friends as he is enemies though, and he soon has Gabrielle Ryan’s Gloria and Isaac Keys‘s Diamond Sampson in his corner as he starts making a name for himself all over again.

Sikora sat down with us to chat about Tommy finally starring in his own Power spin-off. We discuss the character arc, working with his co-stars amid lockdown, and his pride at having all of this be filmed in his home city of Chicago. He also gives us some insight into Ozark season 4 on Netflix, and the long road Power has been on for the creative team and audience alike.

Fans have been waiting a while for your proper return to Power.

I know. Thank you. I’m grateful and I’m sorry.

Was Tommy’s return always part of the plan?

Yeah, you know, it’s above my paygrade, so I have no idea. I’m just happy it’s happening.

How is the Tommy of Power Book 4: Force different from the previous Tommy?

Well, harkening back to one of the expressions on the poster that I love is ‘Different city, different rules, same Tommy’. But it is a slightly different Tommy in the way of the loss that Tommy has experienced on Power. He’s lost all of his friends and family, his connections. So other than a bag full of money and guns, and a couple of changes of clothes, he’s on his own. New York has to be in that rear view mirror, because he’s broken ties with every connection, and every person that he has there.

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So we’re really finding Tommy as blank canvas as we’ve ever known him. That said, he’s definitely en-route to California, and he gets side-tracked in Chicago, and then through a series of unforeseen circumstances, to borrow a Sam Shepard quote, he stays because I think that he sees the opportunity. And I think that is not unlike a different gangster from New York in the 1920s named Al Capone, who saw opportunity in Chicago as well. So we’ll see if there’s any correlation between those two.

When I spoke to Tommy Flanagan, Isaac Keys, and Gabrielle Ryan, they all mentioned you as a leader on set. How did you lead production on Power Book 4?

You know, I think that I only led by being respectful and showing up on time and knowing my lines, always being available for any kind of questions, any kind of rehearsal that was necessary, staying later than I needed to to watch other people’s scenes if they asked me. That’s the only way that I lead.

I was just grateful to have such incredible actors to work with. I mean, Tommy Flanagan – forget it! Lili Simmons is amazing. Shane Harper is so great, that whole Flynn contingency, but then also to be coupled with Kris Lofton, and Isaac keys.

Joseph Sikora as Tommy Egan in Power Book 4: Force

I think that it shows a certain amount of intelligence to also say, ‘Hey, Joseph has been here, since the beginning of the whole show and the inception of this whole universe, let me ask him questions, so I can get my character to where I want that character to be’. I think it shows a certain amount of maturity and intelligence to do that, I think that it would be a mistake not to, I think that I would be doing the same thing.

I also knew that I didn’t know all the answers, and I love discovering the newness with them. I’m in awe of their talent at many times. So I’d be the dumb one if I didn’t look to their amazing talent for myself to get better and find more opportunities and different takes on this world.

I know you’re a Chicago native – how did it feel to bring Power to Chicago for your spin-off series?

A huge amount of pride. Chicago is as proud of its native daughters and sons as it’s quick to diss, so if we didn’t get it right, they’re gonna let us know. But that said, we were given a lot of opportunities for Chicago-based and homegrown talent like Anthony Fleming III, who plays JP Gibbs, and Guy Van Swearingen, who is a Chicago theater legend, who’s one of the founders of the Red Orchid theater, playing Paulie Perogi, the consiglieri of the Flynn family.

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So we had some really incredible Chicagoans as well, Ahmad Ferguson, who is in our show, Lucien Campbell as well, I can keep going on. We celebrate the city, through the actors, for sure.

Tommy is always full of swagger, he’s arrogant, but we never get sick of him. What was it like fitting back into the role? Did it fit like a glove?

Yeah, he is a confident guy, and that’s one of the aspects of Tommy that is not necessarily like me. I wish I was more like that, but I think a lot of us wish we were more like that. So I think that’s one of the aspects of the Tommy character that people are attracted to, and that’s complemented and coupled by the other faults of Tommy that I think that we’re all guilty of. Sometimes being too headstrong or leaping before we look, or just being unlucky. I love that we’re like, ‘Man, that’s me. That’s me all over it’.

He’s just a relatable character with some of these great qualities that we all kind of wish we had as well – I certainly do. And did it fit like a glove? Or did I have to think about it? Man, I would be lying to you Anthony, if I didn’t say that it fit like a glove. I mean, it came right back on. And I was just excited to get started from day one.

You have quite an intense scene with Isaac Keys, involving a racist police officer. Do you think it’s important for shows like Power to confront racism and other inequalities?

Only if it complements the story. I love when everything goes hand in hand, and I loathe in a television show when it’s too didactic.. You know, I don’t mind learning something if I’m being entertained, and it fits within the truth of the storytelling. Sometimes people overshoot for that stuff, and I’m not into that. But I think that within our world, it’s so apparent and so evident, and I think that it’s something that Tommy Egan would say, ‘I know what to do in this situation’.

As Courtney A Kemp brilliantly set up for the Tommy character, he kind of can fit in as Tommy in a million different situations. Unlike Ghost, who would actually speak Spanish or dress in a suit or dress in the hood, or try to amalgamate towards a newer situation, Tommy’s just Tommy and there’s something about that refreshing honesty, and transparency that people accept just as easily as somebody totally fitting in.

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So I think that Tommy is able to see ‘White guy, white guy, I can get rid of this guy’. And then he’s just like, ‘This idiot, this guy, I should make him eat the dirt’, you know, but at the same time, he’s like, ‘I know, I just got to shut my mouth and get this over with because that’s what’s best for the work, for getting that bag. And the bag is ultimately the most important thing to him.

You’re also making your return to Ozark this year, with season 4. Your character meets a gruesome fate in season 3, can we expect season 4 to be as violent?

I think season 4 is going to be more violent, also more strategic, and just everything is just so heightened. Chris Mundy, the writer of Ozark, is a friggin’ genius. Come on, you’ve seen the show. It’s right on, so to be part of that show, I’m very grateful. Obviously Frank Jr doesn’t have the balls that Tommy has – [laughs] I’m joking!

But they’re very different characters. They really are kind of mirror images of each other because Frank Jr just can’t figure out the answer. He’s trapped inside his head. He’s always a day late and a dollar short, whereas Tommy Egan sometimes doesn’t even try, but he gets out ahead because he trusts his gut. He follows through, he makes decisions, you know,. Between them, it’s a leader and then somebody who could not lead.

Gabrielle mentioned about not being able to rehearse scenes due to filming while under lockdown. What was it like filming those intimate scenes together?

You have an intimacy coach now, which is a positive thing, I think that’s helpful for women especially to feel comfortable. Gabrielle and I had a shorthand, we really respected each other right from the beginning. She’s an incredibly talented actor, very present, she’s also just a really nice person too.

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So when she tears it up as Gloria and with those scenes, right, I think that one of my favourite parts is the taken-a-backness that I had, because I know her as this sweet and chill and cool English gal. Then when she’s Gloria, this Jamaican-American, ferocious in that scene and so sexual and sexy. I think that my favourite parts that I saw were my face of shock like, ‘Whoa, wow!’ You know, very honest reactions in the moment. Gabrielle Ryan is a lovely person, and it was a real honour to be able to work with her.

Power has been going strong for a number of spin-offs now. What keeps people coming back to this world?

Well, let’s go back to the beginning, and I’ll do it as fast as I can. Mark Hanson, the executive producer, it came from his idea that he wanted to do a television version of Superfly, a musically driven urban drama, and he brought it to Curtis ’50 Cent’ Jackson.

50 kind of came up with some of the ideas of characters and that world, and the background. And then a guy named David Hopwood, who was Mark Hanson’s assistant, found a writer who was working on The Good Wife, Courtney Kemp. And with Courtney Kemp, they knew it immediately. They said when it was her,that she was the fit for the show. And man, they were right, because look where we are now.

Joseph Sikora as Tommy Egan in Power Book 4: Force

What Courtney did is, she’s really beautiful at weaving a story. She came up with an incredible first season, and interconnectedness between all of these worlds and the dynamism between the gang life and the police and USDAs. Then, season 2 Gary Lennon came on board of the show, and really fleshed it out, because he’s from Manhattan, and his brothers were pretty tough fellas from the west side of Manhattan. He really fleshed things out, specifically for the Tommy character.

So between Courtney and 50, and Gary and myself and the rest of the cast, I got to come up with this wonderful character of Tommy Egan. But that’s to say nothing of Anthony Hemingway, who was our pilot director, and director of the second episode, and now he’s winning Emmys left and right as he should, he’s brilliant and beautiful.

If he didn’t say that all the decisions that I came up with for the Tommy character, ‘Yes, that’s good, more, great’. If he said ‘No, bad, less’, I would not be talking to you today. It takes all of those people to stir the pot, and I’m grateful to have worked with each and every one of them.

Awesome. I’m happy to see you back, hopefully talk to you for season 2!

Hell yes, Anthony, I’ll be here.

Power Book 4: Force premieres February 6 on STARZPLAY