wesley snipes & phillip winchester (the player)

Phillip Winchester and Wesley Snipes as Mr. Johnson (in NBC’s ‘The Player’)

*Wesley Snipes fans are ecstatic to see him back in action and ensconced in a well-orchestrated project. In an exclusive interview, Snipes talked about what played a role in getting him to jump aboard “The Player” team—the same people behind “The Black List.”

I’m quite sure you had your pick of the litter in accepting TV roles, so why “The Player?”

It was a good opportunity to work with some talent I’ve been trying to get access to, and work behind the camera. There’s a new director every week, and a new crew every week. This is one of the better action scripts that came across our desk. So for a lot of reasons, it made pretty good sense. It’s high action, high drama and it gives me a chance to explore some of the ranges of my work, as well as revisit elements of characters I’ve played in the past.

And it’s a good way for me to get my feet wet in this side of the industry.

Tell us a little bit about your character and why he appealed to you.

My character is Mr. Johnson and actually, there are twelve Mr. Johnsons set up around the world. There are virtual casinos created by super wealthy individuals who, for their own amusement, created a system to predict crime, and bet on it. It’s an interesting premise. There are certain rules players must adhere and when the rules are broken, Mr. Johnson has to go and set things straight.

What of Mr. Johnson’s qualities do you relate to most?

[Laughs] Mr. Johnson is like the quiet before the storm. He’s calm, he’s like the perfect butler but also a guy that can deal with gangsters and criminals if it’s necessary.

What’s ahead for The Player?

We’re seeing that people are very curious about what Mr. Johnson actually does, who Mr. Johnson is, and if he’s a good guy or a bad guy. I think the fact that Mr. Johnson’s back-story, as well as the back-story of some of the other characters, will unfold over the next couple of episodes will surprise some people. There are going to be really surprised at some of the things that we brought to the table.

Knowing your history of martial arts, are the action scenes a walk in the park for you and have there been any injuries on set?

It’s not for the faint of heart. It’s like, ‘don’t try this at home.’ And yes, there have been some bumps and bruises.

The TV schedule is a change for you from that of movies. How grueling is the schedule?

We’re literally making a movie every eight days. They’re working us. We’re going to have to start singing some Negro spirituals up in here [Laughs]. But we’re having a great time.

Can’t let you go, Wesley, without asking you about Blade?

We’ll see. We see that the fans are hungry for it. I get asked about it just about every day.

“The Player” airs  tonight, Thursday 10/9c  NBC

Syndicated Entertainment journalist Marie Moore reports on film and TV from her New York City base. Contact her at [email protected]