“Godfather of Harlem” takes an historic flip in Sunday’s episode — as Cassius Clay begins his journey to turn into Muhammad Ali.
Clay has overwhelmed Sonny Liston for the heavyweight crown and is has been courted by Malcolm X (Nigel Thatch), on suspension from the Nation of Islam and searching for a technique to get again into the great graces of chief Elijah Muhammad (Clifton Davis). He’s hoping that introducing Clay, a current convert to Islam, to Muhammad will do the trick.
Actor Deric Augustine, 31, has portrayed Clay over the previous two seasons of the collection, starring Forest Whitaker as ’60s-era Harlem gangster Elwood “Bumpy” Johnson, Vincent D’Onofrio as Vincent “The Chin” Gigante and Giancarlo Esposito as Adam Clayton Powell Jr.
Augustine (“Saints & Sinners,” “Cloak & Dagger”) spoke to The Post about his on-screen alter-ego and about Sunday’s episode (9 p.m. on Epix).
Is there rather a lot of strain to painting a world-famous icon?
I used to be very involved with [Clay’s] mannerisms, his voice, his speech patterns; he had rather a lot of charisma, and to have that on my shoulders was actually anxious. You can put your personal spin on it, however you’re enjoying a real-life character and want it to be reasonable — and never come off such as you’re making an attempt to placed on a present. As quickly as I acquired the position I began watching movies of him, interviews … I learn quite a few articles and I contacted my speech coach in New York and we labored on his speech, his dialect, how he delivered his phrases — and that’s how I conquered his voice.
I didn’t know that Malcolm X had renamed Clay as Cassius X earlier than it was modified by Elijah Muhammad.
I knew [Clay] had a major, brotherly relationship with Malcolm X, who wasn’t supposed to do this. We brush on that in Sunday’s episode, and I believe it’s very insightful and informative for viewers. I really like how this present touches so many different bases … not nearly Bumpy, however about how he has these relationships with public figures. A black man in the ’60s and ’70s was not going to be well-known for graduating on the high of his class or because the world’s best neurosurgeon, so when Clay turned the heavyweight champ he was extra of a public determine and will actually leverage his relationships to do what he needed to do.
Did you do something particular to arrange for taking part in Cassius Clay?
Once I discovered that I booked the position, I educated for 2 months, gained 15 kilos — I used to be intaking 6,000 energy a day — and was tanning twice every week, since [Clay] was a shade darker than me and I needed to look the half. My hair is of course curly, so I picked it out, washed it, picked it out … they usually blow-dried it in hair and make-up, which is just about all I wanted. When you achieve weight it makes you look older.
Is this your first time enjoying an historic determine?
It is to this diploma. I did a film years in the past known as “Surviving Compton” and I performed DJ Yella from NWA. That’s why I used to be so nervous, as a younger actor, after I came upon I used to be working with Forest Whitaker and Vincent D’Onofrio … it forces you to carry your “A” sport and be sure to arrive on the set ready, and that’s what I did. Working with Vincent was like being in a grasp class. There’s a scene in Season 1 when Chin’s individuals kidnap [Clay] and tie him up in a chair. I wasn’t fighting it, nevertheless it was the primary scene I did [on the series]. Vincent mentioned to me, “When I’m telling [Clay] that the FBI is going to get a tape and that he’ll never be a Muslim, picture me telling you that I’m going to take your acting career away.” That acquired me immediately into the scene.