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Omari Hardwick Shares How He Physically & Mentally Prepared For His ‘Army of the Dead’ Role

Source: CLAY ENOS / Netflix

Omari Hardwick is best known for his iconic role, James St. Patrick, aka Ghost in the hit Starz drama Power. Since his exit from the show at the hands of his son Riq played brilliantly by Michael Rainey Jr., Hardwick has taken stepped into some different genres, and we are here for it.

Hardwick’s next challenge will see him take on the undead in Zack Snyder’s zombie/heist film Army of the Dead. In the movie, Hardwick takes on the role of Vanderohe, a cool, calm but tough as nails chainsaw-wielding vet from the zombie wars that went down in Las Vegas, which is now ground zero for the flesh-eating monsters and has been sealed off by the US Government to contain them.

When we catch up with his character, he is no longer the zombie killing machine that he once was, but more of a gentle giant, but gets back into that mode when he is presented with an opportunity to make some money by his war buddy Scott Ward (Dave Bautista). Ward is presented with an opportunity to score millions. All he has to do is lead a team of his choosing that includes Vanderohe in a vault located in the belly of a casino conveniently surrounded by zombies led by a group of super-brain-eaters who also has a pet undead tiger.

Cassius Life caught up with Hardwick and his co-star Matthias Schweighöfer who plays an expert safecracker named Dieter and is pretty much guided through the mission by Vanderohe. In a previous interview, Snyder revealed that Dieter would be the star of an Army of the Dead prequel that will detail his origin story and explain his love for cracking safes.

Army of the Dead

Source: CLAY ENOS / Netflix

We began our interview by asking Hardwick what it was like being in his first zombie flick. Hardwick, who describes himself as more of a “physical actor,” broke down what he had put his body through for the role to be on the same level as his comrade Dave Bautista in the film.

Army of the Dead

Source: CLAY ENOS / Netflix

“I didn’t want Dave [Bautista] to be the physical presence that he is and sort of feel like his training was taken to a level that his comrade wouldn’t train at the same level of.” Hardwick even shared that he put on some weight for the role revealing that he went from “180 to 195 pretty quickly” by increasing his red meat intake to the point his doctors told him that his creatine levels shot up post filming of Army of the Dead. This was all to ensure that he didn’t pale compared to Bautista’s 250lb frame while on-screen together.

Army of the Dead

Source: Clay Enos / Netflix

When it comes to mentally preparing for the role, Hardwick shared his unique approach to becoming the “evolved” character Vanderohe in the film.

“I created a playlist which I do for every character,” he begins.” I create an animal for every character. I make the character an animal. I create a playlist musically. Just trying to figure out what his wind sounds like if he were a wind instrument, for example. He [Vanderohe] was a broken man. He suffered from PTSD, and he’s got a lot of thoughts, he’s very philosophical, and that was cool. To insert myself in the zombie genre, to have a very evolved character in the midst of that I got to play was very cool.”

Finally, when speaking with Schweighöfer, whose character is green when it comes to taking on the undead but incredibly knowledgeable about cracking safes and vaults, making him invaluable to the team. We asked him if there was a situation he ever found himself in a situation like his character in the film where he was excited about something but at the same time had no idea what he was getting himself into.

Army of the Dead

Source: Clay Enos / Netflix

The German-born actor shared an on-set experience which happened to be one of the biggest scenes in the film for him, which happened on the first day. He reveals it was the first time he met both Bautista and Snyder outside of speaking with them on the phone. Schweighöfer said details “jumping in cold water” and introducing himself to Bautista and pointing out that he has “sausage fingers.”

Schweighöfer says both he and Bautista would go on to be friends, which is an accomplishment because we don’t think many people would get away with saying the former pro wrestler’s fingers look like sausages.

Army of the Dead is currently playing in select movie theaters and will arrive exclusively on Netflix, May 21.

Photo: Clay Enos / Netflix

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