Frank Harts Talks ‘Prodigal Son,’ Broadway And More
By: Jamie Rollo March 20, 2020
Premiering this past September, Fox’s Prodigal Son has gained quite the following given its intricate and unique plot. Starring on the show as Detective J.T Tarmel, Frank Harts is more than enthused to be able to play such a dynamic character. Detective Tarmel, a member of the NYPD, has previously done two tours in Afghanistan. His hardened exterior protects an inner love of family and friends, and that’s exactly what drew Harts to the character.
“He’s got a few dimensions, that’s what attracted me,” Harts explained in an interview with Bleu. “As an actor, that’s one of the things that draws me to a character because I think it’s representative of real life. It’s not just a comedic character or a dramatic character, it’s sort of a mix of the two.”
Harts previously worked with the Prodigal Son creators Chris Fedak and Sam Sklaver on their 2018 series Deception. It was through this connection that he was able to land the role as Detective J.T. “[We] had a blast and when this script came across my desk I immediately called my agents and sort of jumped at the opportunity to be in the mix for the role,” Harts added. From there, he went through the typical motions of auditions and callbacks, and the next thing he knew he was filming the Prodigal Son pilot.
Prodigal Son is well into its first season with rave reviews. As the show continues, we see Hart’s character struggling to warm up to fellow NYPD member Malcom Bright. Bright comes from a family of a serial killer, which doesn’t quite sit right with the Harlem native and NYPD traditionalist.
“So it all just seems like a red flag situation to J.T, but one thing J.T learned in the trenches of warfare was that regardless of what you think of people’s backgrounds and personalities when it comes down to fighting for a cause, you learned to respect what they’re worth,” explained Harts. “As you’ll see coming up, J.T becomes a bit more appreciative of what Bright has to offer the team and they bond a little bit more than you found at the beginning of the season. That progression is something that I’m excited to see happen.”
Hailing from a small, rural town in Illinois, Frank Harts began his serious acting career when he decided to take a chance and audition for Juilliard. Of the thousands of applicants, he was part of the small percentage of accepted students and decided to take the leap of faith. “We strolled up like the Beverly Hillbillies for the first time in New York City,” he laughed.
Upon graduating, Harts headed straight for Broadway landing his first big role in Lorraine Hansberry’s A Raisin in the Sun as George Murchison alongside Diddy and Audra McDonald. It was a huge honor for the then-budding actor as the only person to play Murchison before him was Louis Gossett Jr. “I was just proud to be a part of that team,” Harts added.
Following his Broadway performance, he was offered tons of television roles. One of his favorites, Harts revealed, was his role on Aziz Ansari’s acclaimed series Master of None. “It opened a lot of doors for me,” he said. Following that role, he starred alongside Paul Giamatti on the Showtime series Billions and portrayed Dennis Luckey on HBO’s The Leftovers. As a true theater lover, Harts is also still heavily involved in New York’s Shakespeare in the Park. “I’m a big fan of Shakesperian plays and it provides a nice grounding for anything you chose to do as an actor.”
Harts attributes his acting success to simple hard work and consistency. “After a while, if you have the ability, you have the talent, and you know where you’re supposed to be it’s really a matter of keeping your nose on the grindstone, holding on and pushing through all the ups and downs,” he said. “Anything that you want to be at the highest level, it’s really about never giving up and believing in yourself.”
You can watch Frank Harts on Fox’s Prodigal Son Mondays at 9 p.m EST.