Jamie Hector: Through The Wire And Beyond
The debate between nature vs. nurture is age-old. Are we influenced by what we see or through where we come from? Take for instance the Curious Case of Jamie Hector. The Brooklyn born-and-bred creativist was influenced by his time in community theater and created Moving Mountains to help the youth realize their dreams. After giving critic’s cardiacs in 2003′s Five Deep Breaths, Hector gave David Simon juice in households the world over as Marlo Stanfield in HBO’s “The Wire.” The Well Versed politics with the Night Catches Us star about his “DoRight” ambitions, why you can’t turn a blind eye to the streets, and why women love bad guys.
The Well Versed: What inspired you to “move mountains,” pun intended, with your non-profit organization? Being originally from Brooklyn what are your thoughts about the gentrification that’s been going on around the way for the past few years?
Jamie Hector: I was part of an organization theater company and I saw first-hand what it did for my life. I wanted to do the same and give back to the community. I started an organization called Moving Mountains. We have an annual drive to raise books, food, and awareness. The goal is to provide resources for these kids to be able to go to school and earn an education. Changes are apparent all throughout the world these days and I’m down for diversity… as long as you don’t try and change the people’s progress. It’s better to live together, grow together, and build together.
TWV: In Night Catches Us giving back to the community is something highlighted in the movie, right? Can you share a little bit about your character “DoRight Miller”…?
JH: He’s straight grassroots… He’s an organizer and wants to stick around in his neighborhood while the rest of the [Black Panther] party moves on. He does little things around Philadelphia when the Panthers are doing theirs. Being that I think Marcus [Anthony Mackie] got our friend killed and snitched, DoRight basically addresses him when he comes back to town. That’s where the drama begins. We make it uneasy for him to maneuver and do his thing. For my character, him coming back to the neighborhood is like a cancer affecting the community, and I try my best to “do right” and make him leave.
TWV: With the Digital Age so prevalent these days can there be a revolution like what the Panthers did to spark the minds of the youth today?
JH: We gotta find another way to do it. If we’re stuck on the old ways then we fail to grow. Nowadays, we can connect with the world in a minute and we can tell what people think online so easily. There’s so much information flowing that if you aren’t going with the current than you’re out of luck. Social media is more than just how many followers you have, the real streets are just as, if not more, important. I read an issue of The Source Magazine that asked the question if street cred still matters and the simple answer is: they’ll always matter. You can’t turn a blind eye to the streets. That’s why I believe that what Obama did, and the way he ran his campaign, is a perfect example of what a wonderful balance the digital revolution can be. Most folks still don’t understand that the Internet is another world. You can build up an illusion on the Internet and sell it in that other world, but it won’t go further than your dot com if you don’t have the streets behind it.
TWV: Your co-star, Anthony Mackie, said in a recent interview that he’s “the most famous actor from The Wire who’s never been on The Wire.” How you two Brooklynites meet up in the game?
JH: [Laughs] He’s opening up a bar around Nostrand Avenue and he was telling me about that. The first day that I met him he was telling me people thought that he was me. He’s cool, man. We both met [director of Night Catches Us] Tanya Hamilton and she asked if we’d like to rehearse. I said, “Cool,” and we went down to Germantown, Philadelphia, and Anthony and I were talking about how to develop our characters. We improvised with and without the dialogue, decided if the characters were going to be extroverted, detailed their wants and needs, and after it was all said and done, we went out and got some food and had fun. In about a week’s time, Ant and I had connected. We’d meet up for some dinner throughout the shoot and stayed in touch since then.
TWV: What has been the most consistent roadblock you’ve ran into when going out for projects in Hollywood?
JH: I don’t know if you’d call it a roadblock… more like when a project doesn’t just leap off the page to me, ya’know? Even if the money is right, I have to ask myself, “Do I do this film because of the finances or is it best from a business standpoint?” It’s not just me who makes the decisions.
TWV: What has been the most outrageous response you’ve received from the ladies once you’ve made a splash with Marlo?
JH: Aww, man… I can’t get too crazy with the responses. Some of them sounded like they didn’t have mothers [laughs]. The women love bad guys. How much they love bad guys is amazing. I wonder if its because they want to tame them? I’d have to say the response, when it comes to Marlo, has always been love. They love the discipline and the fear factor of the character. The most outrageous response I directly got from a woman, it wasn’t crazy outrageous, but she just showed me nothing but love and appreciation.
TWV: There may be some who aren’t fans of video games enough to recognize that you’ve been in quite a few. From The Warriors to voicing Emile from Halo: Reach — talk about how those opportunities came about.
JH: The character from Halo: Reach looked like me and I enjoyed the scriptwork. I thought it was nice. I took a look at it and went to the studio. They swung me out to California after doing some test work. When they added all of the action into my dialogue it was consistent and on point. They really enjoyed the role. We had a lot of fun in that studio. Three million people play that game on Xbox Live! I honesty didn’t know how big of a game it was. I should’ve known that it was big when I had to sign that confidentiality statement [laughs]. Truth of the matter is the game is going to be turned into the movie. I may be in that given what I did with the character in the game. You never know what to expect.
I would love to be a part of Mass Effect. Mass Effect is a story based game and I love that. It’s a trilogy so I see the future possibilities. Also Commander Shepard has to have leadership, is charismatic, and combative skills to lead a team in and out of combat. That’s what I want to be a part of — disciplined leadership. And like Max Payne… I’m down to jump on board when it’s developed into a film.
TWV: According to Variety, Marlo was one of their Top 10 best TV villains, but I have to ask… who are your personal top 10 baddies and why?
JH: I’d have to say that my list would be:
- Jeffrey Wright in Shaft: He was incredible, believable, hilarious, and frightening. He went from stabbing himself in the chest to having a civilized conversation in a coffee shop seated like a gentleman, still G checking his guard, and showing no fear.
- Edward Norton in American History X – Couldn’t stand him… I saw the death in his eyes.
- Joaquin Phoenix in Gladiator – He had no boundaries, no loyalty to anyone, and yet I was engaged in his performance. His behavior was reptilian and I couldn’t stand him. He did a great job.
- Javier Bardem in No Country For Old Men – The guy moved around as if he had superhero powers. He seemed spiritless.
- Michael K. Williams in The Wire – He carried out all of his actions with the confidence that he was a thorn in everybody’s side. Very intimidating with a child-like sensitivity. The cereal he ate, no cursing, the way he got annoyed — all dope — but he was not one to be messed with.
- John Lithgow in Dexter – He commands the scene effortlessly. I would love an opportunity to work with him.
You can catch Jamie Hector in Night Catches Us is currently out in theaters nationwide!