Omari Hardwick talks about his new Starz series ‘Power’

In the upcoming drama series “Power,” the protagonist, James “Ghost” St. Patrick, is torn between the worlds of the drug trade and New York nightlife.

The actor playing St. Patrick, Omari Hardwick, has spent parts of his life split between different callings as well, though both on the right side of the law.

Hardwick lettered at the University of Georgia in football, playing on a team that also featured future NFL stars like Hines Ward, before moving to New York to pursue acting.

amNewYork caught up with Hardwick in advance of the debut airing of “Power” to chat about his start in the New York acting world and the advice of the show’s executive producer, 50 Cent.

You started your career in New York. What was it like being back now after having had a bit of success?

It was as cool as it comes, to be on those same streets that knew me as a pensive kid, wondering if I could actually work in this industry. … When you’re 23 and broke in New York, you don’t really know what people mean when they say it’s a tough place, because it’s exactly what you wanted. You want it to be tough. Now, to be back, it’s a little more comfortable.

Your character is trying to “go legit” after a life of street crime, a similar arc to that of the life of executive producer 50 Cent. Did he talk with you about the role?

I haven’t stopped talking with him about it. I texted with him 15 minutes before talking to you. … He came in and reminded me that, without some of the opportunities that I’ve had, I’d be in a similar situation as he was. He didn’t wake up one morning and go, “I want to \[deal drugs\].” He reminded me that I should not be apologetic for the choices that Ghost made.

Ghost finds his legal calling in the nightclub world. What’s the most that you would ever pay for bottle service at a club?

I’m so Capricorn, man, so I’m frugal. I go to Vegas and play the slots — I don’t know how to gamble my money. If it’s someone birthday party, maybe $600 for everybody to be able to drink what they want. Maybe $850. But to be honest? Give me a whiskey and ginger ale and I’m good. Maybe two. I like my money too much.

On TV: “Power” premieres on Starz on Saturday at 9 p.m.