Power interview: Joseph Sikora on Kanan fallout, Tommy – Teresi storyline, and what’s ahead

Joseph SikoraJoseph Sikora may be one of TV’s most-nuanced performers. Tommy Egan on Power is a character capable of so many different things — he can be incredibly loyal, funny, and at times heartfelt and caring, but if you cross him then his wrath is like few others. He has been at the center of some of the show’s most-intense moments and moving into the final episodes of season 5, more intensity could be on the way — even after the stunning death of Kanan on Sunday night’s episode. Power has a tendency to go big in closing out the season, and at the moment there are so many different balls still in the air — including the complicated relationship between Tommy and his father Teresi, who has been acting as a secret informant ever since his release from prison.

In our interview below, Sikora discusses the departure (at least as an actor) of his on-screen co-star 50 Cent, working with William Sadler as Teresi, the ins and outs of who Teresi is, and of course what lies ahead as we get to the end of the season.

For more thoughts on this past episode of Power, be sure to watch our video below and subscribe to CarterMatt on YouTube for more. New Power videos will be uploaded every Sunday on our playlist.

CarterMatt – Back when we first set this interview up and I was excited to speak with you, I had no idea about what happened to Kanan! Do you consider last Sunday’s episode one of the biggest ones the show’s ever done?

Joseph Sikora – You can tell by the fans’ reactions just what an impact it’s made. People were saying to me just earlier today what a big loss it is going to be for the show. It is going to be a loss, but the impact of the Kanan character will live on for the rest of the series. It’s going to be talked about — he was so impactful that the ripples of this character aren’t going anywhere.

When did you first learn that Kanan would be dying in 508?

Relatively early on, because 50 knew that it was a possibility during the season. I think there was always the possibility of this action sequence happening and him not necessarily dying. [Executive producer] Courtney [A. Kemp] is just a master storyteller and she felt like this was the time for that character. The consequences of his actions were to pay the ultimate price. I knew for a while, but I was still almost shocked watching the episode. It was moving!

I know 50 is still involved as an executive producer behind the scenes (he will also direct an episode next season), but what are you going to miss about working with him as an actor?

As an actor, he is a consummate student. Just like he is with music, he’s always curious to learn. He’s always curious to know why this decision is made or why that decision is made. He loves to explore a lot of different options, and I think that’s really helped me to explore a lot of different options. I love that. I would say that fun is my default, and I think you can tell that with the character. I have fun, and 50 has a lot of fun doing it, too. It was always fun being on set with him.

Does losing a character of that importance make you take further stock in your own character’s mortality on the show in some way? Acting is a bit nomadic in a sense, and so is this character.

Like you said, Tommy is a bit nomadic by trade, and he’s become that way through the seasons. He’s had to really learn himself that he’s his own man, that he’s his own boss, and that he’s the captain of his own ship. We’ve watched him come to that process. Now, he’s trying to steer a bit of a rudderless ship at the moment, but it’s his own ship for the first time.

Does that lead to extra problems, and does that lead to extra questions of his ultimate demise? Of course, as it should. It is responsible for the show to, at the very minimum, have that feeling behind every character.

One of the moments that was almost as powerful as Kanan’s death was Tommy’s reaction. Back before he died, he basically predicted that Ghost would betray either him or Tommy. Even though Ghost wasn’t involved with what happened, does Tommy have tunnel vision coming out of it?

I think that Tommy doesn’t necessarily believe that Ghost wasn’t involved. He explicitly asked him at the Morgue, ‘do you really expect me to believe it was just your wife? Are you really going to do that?’ Tommy gave him the opportunity to come clean in the event that he was involved. We all know that Ghost wasn’t an audience member, but Tommy should be questioning this. Ghost has consistently acted without Tommy and pulled the wool over his eyes. I think Tommy is questioning him and has been questioning him since season 2 when they set Kanan up and they went to the police to get him arrested. Tommy remained a little astounded at that.

What’s it been like for you and Omari [Hardwick] to play this relationship and see it evolve over time? At this point I wonder if there is any way that the relationship between these guys becomes repairable, or if is there is too much water under the bridge.

It’s been interesting to me. It’s been nothing but a luxurious joy to play with Omari Hardwick. He’s a great actor and the chemistry that he and I have comes across and we’ve structured it that way. It’s a really intense, intimate brotherhood. They’re brothers-in-arms. These are two men who have such a strong bond and love for each other; they’ve known each other since they were five or six years old, but they were soldiers in the streets. Even at 11 years old, they were hustling on the streets. They may have been selling socks and deodorants, but they were hustling. They graduated into selling dimes of marijuana, and then they shot at people and they got shot at. They survived, and they are survivors and soldiers in every sense that we would imagine brothers-in-arms being. This is a deep bond of these men having all of their self-reliance and their salvation together.

So, as I think that you’re right in that it’s hard to see how they could ever get back together, to me there’s always that deeper-than-family, deeper-than-blood inexplicable mystery and love between these two men that can never be disregarded.

What have you enjoyed the most about working with William Sadler and exploring the Tommy – Teresi relationship? Have you appreciated learning something new about Tommy through him?

First off, William Sadler is an absolute joy, gentleman, consummate pressure. He’s fun, joyous, and some of my favorite times of my life on set are with William Sadler, definitively. He’s just a lovely human being, and I think that some of that translates into the relationship between Tommy and his father because of the great time that I’m having with Bill. You can see this childish joy of Tommy having his father back in his life. I think that’s when work becomes play; it’s such a luxury to go to work with somebody so happy and joyous. Then, these wonderful, magical moments happen on the forefront of the scene.

I think we saw such a moment when Teresi was, really sociopathically, tormenting and torturing the cop in the garage with the power drill. A lot of interviewers and people have said that Tommy is a sociopath, but I don’t think he’s ever been presented as a sociopath. I think there are consequences for people’s actions because of the rules of the street. I don’t think we’ve seen Tommy do anything sadistically — even when he ran over Domingo in the car last season. It wasn’t sadistic. It was out of a sentiment of ‘you messed up’ and ‘you pay what you owe.’ Even when he lit the guy on fire, it was him saying ‘I’m going to do this right’ and ‘I’m going to show Ghost how to get this information.’ He dissociated, but he didn’t dissociate to a sociopaths place.

Tommy watched his father go to this sociopathic place, but the bonding was ‘I’m doing something that I know how to do with my dad.’ It’s bizarre and complex with this incredible violence, but what a true bond! I think it just shows Tommy searching at all costs to find a connection with his father.

Tommy still doesn’t know how exactly Teresi got out, and that’s something he asked in the promo for Sunday’s episode. Are we at the precipice of things coming to a head regarding that?

I think one of the reasons people are drawn to Tommy is that he’s a straight shooter and he’s honest. He expects honesty back but he’s not stupid at all. People sometimes mistake him for that because he doesn’t show his cards all the time. Tommy definitely is the guy who says ‘hey look, I’m giving you an opportunity to come clean. Now if I find out you’re not coming clean, then you’re going to have to pay for it.’ Just like he gives Ghost the benefit of the doubt, he wants to give his father the benefit of the doubt. I think that his father has come a long way to really loving Tommy back.

I think the outcome is going to be a surprise for a lot of people. Gary Lennon, who is one of our executive producers since season 2 and one of our writers, directed 509, that he also wrote. He was just amazing to work with. If you ask William Sadler or Bill Sage, Gary really did a phenomenal job. He is going to give the audience exactly what it wants and it was a pleasure to work with him in that capacity as a director.

The finale’s right around the corner at this point. How do you think that this episode stacks up with some others?

Every bit as good. M.J. Bassett is the director of the finale and it’s really fantastic. I really think that 8, 9, and 10 are all kind of like finales in themselves. The finale is not going to disappoint, I promise you that.

Provided that Tommy makes it to a season 6, what do you want to explore for this character moving forward? We’ve gotten to see so much from him, whether it be dark scenes or funny scenes or heartbreaking moments.

I think with Tommy, just because we’ve gone deep, there is always opportunity to go deep and go light. I’ve been so lucky to have a character who can explore all of those fields. He is as comfortable at sea as he is on land. I think he’s comfortable with comedy and with drama, or as comfortable being rageful as he is being innocent and open and sad and learning. The writers get to use their imaginations with me, and I hope they keep doing it to take Tommy wherever. Here’s a character who is a consummate adaptation to whatever environment he’s in. That’s a lot of fun to watch.

So after a long day of filming as Tommy, who, as we’ve said, goes through so many different iterations, are you able to shed his skin easily? Does he stick with you afterwards?

Well, my wife would not allow him to stick with us. She works 16-20 hours a day, as well — she’s a crew member, but not on our show. That’s acceptable for family behavior and I’m glad she put that rule down. I’ve had to really learn how to shed him. I’ve always said that I keep Tommy as close as I need him to be. If there’s a really intense scene or something that I owe to the character or the story, I just have to remove myself from other people. Tommy is an incredibly intense character, and it’s not responsible or nice to force that on people who are close to you. If I need separation time, and sometimes I need a little and sometimes I need a lot, I’ve learned the balance what I need.

Related Check out more information what lies ahead!

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We want to give a very special thanks to Joseph for his time and being so open with us about his character.

Let us know what you want to see for Tommy next on Power in the comments. Also, be sure to like CarterMatt on Facebook in the event you want more news on the series. (Photo: Starz.)

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