Player Snipes back in game

It’s game on for Wes­ley Snipes as he seeks to re­de­fine his act­ing stripes, COLIN VICK­ERY re­ports

The Sunday Mail (Queensland) - TV Guide - - NEWS -

WES­LEY SNIPES wants to re­mind the world how good an ac­tor he is, and The Player is just the show to do it.

For a decade, the 53-year-old ac­tor and mar­tial arts ex­pert has been stuck in di­rect-to-video hell — spit­ting out generic ac­tion fare with ti­tles such as The Det­o­na­tor and The Con­trac­tor.

Be­tween 2010 and 2013 he went miss­ing com­pletely – stuck in prison for fail­ing to file US fed­eral in­come tax re­turns.

The Player, from the mak­ers of The Blacklist, is set to re­vi­talise Snipes’ ca­reer – and he knows it.

It is time to re­mind au­di­ences of the skills he brought to Spike Lee dra­mas Mo’ Bet­ter Blues and Jun­gle Fever, com­edy White Men Can’t Jump, and crime thriller New Jack City.

“I think peo­ple … be­came more fa­mil­iar with me as an ac­tion ac­tor as op­posed to all the dra­matic work I had done,” Snipes says.

“With this I can ex­plore all of that (drama, com­edy and ac­tion) at the same time. It re­minds me of my col­lege theatre arts pro­gram where you have to do so many things with a very short turn­around.”

Snipes plays mys­te­ri­ous pit boss Mr John­son in the Las Ve­gas­set ac­tion thriller. Mr John­son rep­re­sents a group of su­per-rich clients who bet on the out­comes of crimes.

It is up to for­mer mil­i­tary op­er­a­tive Alex Kane (Philip Winch­ester) to try to pre­vent these crimes from hap­pen­ing. The other player in the game is the dealer, Cas­san­dra King, played by Char­ity Wake­field.

Snipes plays Mr John­son with the sort of the­atri­cal flour­ish James Spader brought to Ray­mond “Red” Red­ding­ton in

The Blacklist.

Depend­ing on cir­cum­stances, Mr John­son changes iden­tity us­ing an ar­ray of dif­fer­ent ac­cents. He also kicks some se­ri­ous butt.

“He’s dig­ni­fied with a con­trolled anger and fe­roc­ity un­der­neath the sur­face. In some scenes he might speak the Queen’s English, and in oth­ers he might speak hip hop,” Snipes says.

“The idea of tak­ing this re­fined gen­tle­man who is the ul­ti­mate fa­cil­i­ta­tor and throw­ing him in the seedy un­der­world of Las Ve­gas is a cool com­bi­na­tion.”

It is Winch­ester, rather than Snipes, who fea­tures in most of the stunt se­quences in the show’s pi­lot – swing­ing through win­dows, smok­ing up a car chase.

“There are very few guys who can be good dra­matic ac­tors and have a be­liev­able phys­i­cal­ity,” Snipes says of Winch­ester.

Snipes prom­ises to un­leash some mar­tial arts in later episodes but right now is play­ing a big­ger game.

“The act­ing chal­lenge is to cre­ate a char­ac­ter that is go­ing to be in­trigu­ing, dan­ger­ous at times, funny at times, and hope­fully en­gag­ing,” Snipes says.

“I’m learn­ing that with tele­vi­sion you have the time to do that. It is not

a one-shot deal [like movies].” THE PLAYER WED­NES­DAY, 9.30PM, SEVEN

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