“Godfather of Harlem” takes an historic flip in Sunday’s episode — as Cassius Clay begins his journey to change into Muhammad Ali.
Clay has crushed Sonny Liston for the heavyweight crown and is has been courted by Malcolm X (Nigel Thatch), on suspension from the Nation of Islam and in search of a option to get again into the nice 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 quite a bit 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 quite a bit of charisma, and to have that on my shoulders was actually hectic. You can put your personal spin on it, however you’re taking part in a real-life character and wish it to be real looking — and never come off such as you’re attempting to placed on a present. As quickly as I bought the function 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 big, brotherly relationship with Malcolm X, who wasn’t supposed to try this. We brush on that in Sunday’s episode, and I feel it’s very insightful and informative for viewers. I 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 prime of his class or because the world’s best neurosurgeon, so when Clay grew to become 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 enjoying Cassius Clay?
Once I realized that I booked the function, I skilled 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 … and so they 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 taking part in 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 discovered I used to be working with Forest Whitaker and Vincent D’Onofrio … it forces you to convey your “A” recreation and be sure you 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 combating 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 bought me immediately into the scene.