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