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Shane Johnson storms into ‘Power Book II’ on Starz

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Shane Johnson says he’s surprised — and happy — that he was able to continue playing US Attorney Cooper Saxe in “Power Book II: Ghost,” the role he originated on “Power.”

“I thought I was done for when Tommy [Joseph Sikora] put a plastic bag over my head,” says Johnson, 44. “Usually [showrunner] Courtney [A. Kemp] gives you a heads-up before you die … so I was reading the script and thinking, ‘Did she forget to give me a heads-up?’

“But I feel like I’ve managed to strike a very important chord within the ‘Power’ universe.”

“Power Book II: Ghost,” continues the story of Tariq St. Patrick (Michael Rainey Jr.), who, in “Power,” murdered his father, James St. “Ghost” Patrick (Omari Hardwick) — but it’s his mother, Tasha (Naturi Naughton), who’s on trial for the murder.

“I’m really excited for my character this season since it’s been like seven years in the making,” says Johnson, who originated the role of Cooper Saxe when “Power” premiered in 2014. “So to get to this point — and the fact that I’m still around and still finding places to go with the character and new challenges — I feel like I’ve found some dynamic changes in Saxe over the years.

“And that’s really due to the writers.”

Clifford Smith Method Man and Shane Johnson ⋆ NgospelMediaCom
Clifford Smith (Method Man) and Shane Johnson

Johnson has a few thoughts on the direction in which he’d like to see this season’s plotline head.

“As an audience member I would want Tasha to go to jail because she is responsible for this universe,” he says. “In Season 1, she told her husband, Ghost, that ‘You’re gonna be the biggest drug dealer in New York City.’ She was that person. And then a few seasons later she’s like, ‘Oh, I want to go legit’ and that Ghost should take responsibility because he’s the one who did all the illegal stuff.

“Now she wants to turn over a new leaf, but it’s kind of too late,” he says. “She already made these choices — and she’s responsible for some of the deaths. But as a parent, I fee like she’s responsible for her kid to a degree — his upbringing and molding him…so she’s directly responsible for Tariq being who he is and who he needs to be.

Shane Johnson ⋆ NgospelMediaCom
Shane Johnson

“As Cooper Saxe I want to see Tariq in jail because he’s the one that killed his father,” he says. “James Saint Patrick was the real person I wanted in jail but I can’t have him anymore because Tariq killed him.

“He took my biggest case away from me so now I wanna take him down.”

Saxe is also using his niece, Riley Saxe (Andrea Lee Christensen) for insider leverage while she’s dating Tariq’s college roommate.

“Riley could definitely be Cooper’s downfall because she hasn’t listened to
anything he says. He keeps trying to trust her and tell what to do but she’s buried in her phone — a typical millennial.

“She’s just half paying attention and wants to please [Cooper] …but ends up getting him in trouble,” he says. “He keeps trying to trust her and tell her what to do but
she’s buried in her phone [like] a typical millennial. The moment he thought she was sleeping with Tariq was one of my favorite moments on the show.

“I think they’re loyal to each other but she has bad instincts — instead of listening to her uncle.”

“Power Book II: Ghost” airs Sunday at 8 p.m. on Starz.

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