Larenz Tate: Game of Silence

larenztatepic2If you were tuning in to primetime television last week, then you may have caught the new NBC drama premiere of “Game of Silence” which debuted April 12.

Coming off the season finale of the network’s hit series, “Shades of Blue” starring Jennifer Lopez and Ray Liotta, executives are hoping that “Game of Silence” will capture the same heightened anticipation and ratings. The show kicked off to a strong debut with two episodes airing in the same week.

Larenz Tate is a part of the ensemble cast of actors that brings the non-stop action to the small screen. A Chicago native, Tate’s work as an actor began with a small role in an episode of “The Twilight Zone” in 1985 and built to memorable roles such as ‘O Dog’ in “Menace II Society,” “Dead Presidents,” “Love Jones,” “Why Do Fools Fall in Love,” “Ray,” and the award-winning film, “Crash,” among others.

His repertoire of work is represented on the small screen in featured guest and co-starring roles including “Love Monkey,” “Rescue Me,” “Rush,” and “House of Lies” among his string of various featured roles on several shows.

“Game of Silence” is Tate’s first co-starring role in a drama series on the NBC Network. Coming off of the TNT series “Rush,” he is very happy with his choice of character on the new series.

He explains, “It’s a show about a group of childhood friends who reappear in each other’s life’s after a dark secret from their past resurfaces and they decide to band together to right the wrong of that past. That’s pretty much the pitch of the storyline – the secret of something that’s been haunting them for a long time.

“When they were kids, they were joyriding,” Tate said.  “Four boys and a girl. They were joyriding in Houston and had no business being behind the wheel. They accidentally hit a woman and nearly killed her. So they have to go to a youth detention center and they obviously were not built for this facility.”

GAME OF SILENCE -- "Hurricane Gil" Episode 102 -- Pictured: Larenz Tate as Shawn Cook -- (Photo by: Bob Mahoney/NBC)
GAME OF SILENCE — “Hurricane Gil” Episode 102 — Pictured: Larenz Tate as Shawn Cook — (Photo by: Bob Mahoney/NBC)

There is much more to the storyline of “Game of Silence” with Tate’s character, Shawn Polk, who is best friends with Gil Harris, played by Michael Raymond-Jameson (True Blood). It is based on the popular Turkish television series, “Suskunlar,” created by David Hudgins (Friday Night Lights, Parenthood),  and its pilot was directed by Niels Arden Oplev, known for his Swedish film, “The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo.”

“This was not about stunt casting – a bunch of names for the sake for getting viewership – as much as it is staying true to the material as it’s written,” Tate said. “So, when you see this, it sets the tone as a real movie.

“When I sat down with NBC, I mentioned that they had sent me a couple of TV show scripts because I was a part of Universal Studios when I doing the TV show, ‘Rush’ and NBC wanted me to come over to their network.

“One was a comedy, but I didn’t feel like that was my thing. Another was a relationship show; it was cool, but I was like, ‘I don’t know if that is going to be a series.’

“The reason I responded to this show was because it was an ensemble; the other  ones would make me the star. I wasn’t impressed with that, as long as my deal and my bread is right, I’m cool.”

The Ensemble And Writers

Tate believes what makes “Game of Silence” work is the realistic point of view from all of the characters on the show. Although it challenges key topics, it doesn’t stereotype the actors.

The show delves deeper into the characters’ history and connection. The executive producer allowed the actors to come into the writers’ room, which rarely happens between the cast and show writers.

“Once we got into the series, the executive producer allowed us to come into the actual writers’ room,” Tate says. “It was a very diverse, twenty-something group. We started talking about the characters in this world, being in the South. I wanted to be clear. I told them my friends reflect a very diverse group of people.”

He told the writers not to feel weird if the subject of race was discussed because it should not be the elephant in the room. With the show’s characters, Gill and Sean sharing a close, brotherly bond, it dispels the myth that White and Black folks can’t be legitimate brothers in a real way, says Tate.

(L-R) Actors Larenz Tate, Lahmard J. Tate and Larron Tate attend day 1 of the Radio Broadcast Center during the BET Awards '14 on June 27, 2014 in Los Angeles, California. (June 26, 2014 - Source: Alberto E. Rodriguez/Getty Images North America
(L-R) Actors Larenz Tate, Lahmard J. Tate and Larron Tate attend day 1 of the Radio Broadcast Center during the BET Awards ’14 on June 27, 2014 in Los Angeles, California.
(June 26, 2014 – Source: Alberto E. Rodriguez/Getty Images North America

“We can also talk about issues of situations that can happen to me that won’t happen to them.”

With the new series building steam, Larenz Tate and his older brothers Larron Tate and Lahmard J. Tate, continue to build their company, Tateman Entertainment, Inc.

Larron works behind the scenes handling the operations, production deals, and various acquisitions in the film industry. Lahmard, actor and writer, is often recognized for his comedic roles in such films as “Barbershop,” “Don’t Be a Menace to South Central While Drinking Your Juice in the Hood,” and “Rocky Balboa.”

He said, “We’re trying to carve a niche in all sides of it. From the dramatic, romantic, as well as a comedy that I have been focused on. Now we’ve ventured into animation. Being able to pioneer our own destiny, we’re not waiting on the next person,” Lahmard adds. “It’s a task. It’s a sprint. It’s definitely a marathon that we plan to win.”

The production team is working in partnership with Queen Latifah’s company on the upcoming film “Deuces” starring Larenz, Megan Good, Lance Gross and Lala Anderson. They are also producing a small action indie film called “Beta Test.”

Both brothers are excited for their younger brother’s success and latest project because they understand how tough the business can be in staying relevant and consistent.

For the first time, Larron wants to enjoy “Game of Silence” as a fan, not as a business partner. “One of the things I do with our dad – I find time where he and I watch television together. It’s a bonding thing. We may watch ‘Billions’ or ‘Game of Thrones.’ Now we can watch ‘Game of Silence.’”

Catch “Game of Silence” on NBC on Thursdays 10pm EST/9pm CST on your broadcast local stations.

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