Joseph Sikora Shares All The Scoop On New Spinoff Power Book IV: Force - Exclusive Interview

Actor Joseph Sikora cut his teeth onstage in his native Chicago before making his mark onscreen. As his IMDb credits demonstrate, his appearances extend back to 1987, and include numerous hit TV series and blockbuster movies.

In 2014, Sikora was cast in a project that would prove to be a game-changer: drug-dealing gangster Tommy Egan in Starz drama "Power." While "Power" ended its six-season run in 2020, that wasn't the last that viewers saw of Tommy; Sikora is reviving the fan-favorite character to head up a new spinoff, "Power Book IV: Force," which finds Tommy cutting ties with New York. As the series synopsis notes, what was intended to be a brief visit to Chicago to "close an old wound that's been haunting him for decades" becomes permanent when he finds himself embroiled in the city's lucrative illegal drug trade. Seeing opportunity, Tommy sets up shop and embarks on an audacious quest: to become the most powerful drug lord in the Windy City. 

In an exclusive interview with Nicki Swift, Sikora opens up about headlining his own spinoff, returning to his native Chicago and what sets "Power Book IV: Force" apart from the other series in the "Power" franchise.

Talk of a spinoff began as Power wrapped up its run

How long have you known that Tommy was going to be getting his own sitcom — sorry, I meant to say spinoff?

You know, it's almost applicable. A sitcom made with Tommy is actually relatively applicable. Tommy seems to always find the humor in these really tragic, and daring, and dangerous situations. I knew that the spinoff was coming before we ended the "Power" show. ["Power" producer] 50 Cent and [series creator] Courtney [Kemp] were saying that it was going to happen. And then as time went on and more time passed, and I was like, "What's going on here?" 50 Cent said, "I'm going to make sure that the show happens. So don't worry." And so I didn't worry. A little bit. I mean, I wish I was as calm and confident as Tommy Egan, but I'm not quite that confident. But I do trust 50 Cent. 50 Cent is the most accessible and wonderful boss and person I've ever worked for and with in my life. So I'm very grateful to him.

Now, spinoffs can be tricky things; there are some that work better than others. So what was the process of shaping what Tommy's journey was going to be as it continued? 

Well, I didn't have any creative jurisdiction over the story, or bringing the show to Chicago, where I was born and raised and I haven't lived for many, many a moon. More than half of my life I've been gone. So I really had to relearn the city again, which was exciting for me, because one of the attractions for playing Tommy still, and going into the spinoff was finding Tommy at a place that we've never seen him in the "Power" show, with nothing. He's lost his family. He's lost his support system. He's lost his drug lines. Everybody's against him. He's now made enemies of the Tejadas as we saw in "Power Book II: Ghost." He still has enemies with the Serbs and with the mafia, and all the street gangs that he's made enemies of by murdering a lot of their leaders. So it's a place where we have never seen him before. And because of the uniqueness of that situation, a lot of interesting dynamic parts about Tommy are revealed. Parts that we haven't seen before. 

Joseph Sikora is now seeing his native Chicago through different eyes

To follow on that a bit, I mean, we are seeing Tommy in a very different place than we've ever seen him before. How has that affected your approach to playing him?

Not much. I try to stick to the character, and have not the character change at all but the situations change, because innately, when Tommy's in a new city, new situations are going to arise. So they're going to be different within themselves. So Tommy shouldn't change, but the situation should change. And our fun is that we know Tommy so well. So we, as an audience, get to live and be with Tommy behind those eyes and think, oh my God, what's Tommy going to do in this situation with this person. Oh, this person doesn't know that it's Tommy, they think it's just this crazy white boy coming in here, but they don't know the history. So us, as an audience, we get to know that history and get to feel the anticipation and the excitement of the new situation.

In terms of coming together with the project, how much input did you have in shaping the show?

Very little. Very, very little. Almost none, which I'll just leave it at that. Yeah. Yeah. There were other creative forces that came up with the city, and the storylines, and the characters.

I had read that ["Power" creator] Courtney Kemp had said that the show was sort of the crowd pleaser of the "Power" universe. What can you add to that?

I think Courtney hit it right on the head. I think that it is the crowd pleaser. I think it's the natural progression of the "Power" show. I think Courtney is so brilliant, and she could see into the future that the audience demanded this show.

Returning to Chicago at this point in your life, what's that been like for you, to return and to sort of see the city through different eyes?

Well, I think, like I was saying, I actually did see the city through different eyes because I hadn't lived there as a permanent resident since I was 21 years old. And that's well over 20 years at this point. So New York is really home. I know New York in some ways better because I knew New York in real time. And Chicago, I would just go there to see my parents, or my cousin, or some friends from the neighborhood. And it was a rediscovery of the city. And I had the wherewithal to know that I needed to go to Chicago a month early and go on ride-alongs with the police. I knew I had to meet with gangbangers, and gangsters, and cops and robbers, and ask them all questions about how would Tommy survive in this city.

Joseph Sikora on the similarities between him and his Power character

A lot of actors who have the opportunity to play a character for an extended period of time, it seems as if the actor and the character do sort of start to take on similar traits over time. Have you noticed that with playing Tommy, that you're becoming a little Tommy and Tommy's becoming a little you?

No, my wife would not put up with that.

Are there any similarities that you share with Tommy at all?

Absolutely. I mean, they're the exact similarities that I made up on the first day of filming, before the first day. It's all of the homework that I did. Obviously, I think any actor worth their salt brings part of their own life and experience to the character. And then there's, of course, the other parts that you fill in from experiences, things that you've known, things that you imagine, and that's our responsibility to be a vessel, but make up the most exciting and strong character that you can to make the best choices in these situations. So Tommy, like me, we're both very loyal. We're both very heated. We get heated very fast. But unlike Tommy, I've gone to anger management therapy, and I still see my therapist every week, and I work on my mental health, whereas Tommy does not. 

So he's still incredibly, incredibly volatile. We both are proud. We're both urban guys. So there's that. But there's also these aspects of Tommy that I wish I had, like his confidence, and his sticking to his gut, trusting his gut. And we're both very loyal, like I said, but Tommy's extreme loyalty is almost to a fault at times. We're both very sensitive, too. But in Tommy, you don't know Tommy's sensitive. We only know Tommy's sensitive as an audience because we saw him behind closed doors, alone in his private time. And I love exploring those moments with Tommy.

"Power Book IV: Force" premieres Sunday, February 6 on STARZ.