Last year, Tyler Perry gave actor Jaime M. Callica the best birthday gift ever. The Toronto native had just finished filming Tales From The Hood 3 in Winnipeg when he got a call to read for a Tyler Perry project. Not wanting to waste precious time traveling back to the States, Callica put his audition on tape and immediately sent it out. Within days, he was informed that he made the shortlist to portray a dynamic character named Agent Brian Rollins in the new series, Ruthless.
“I was so pumped because for the previous 42 days, I’d been tweeting at Mr. P that I was ready to be a series regular on a show and I want it to be with Tyler Perry,” Callica tells BET.com. “It was a daily affirmation that I would tweet every single day. Then I got the call that I booked it.”
Callica, who has appeared in several television shows and movies like Luther and Merry Liddle Christmas, waited for his management team to iron out a few minor details.
“They had to negotiate a bunch of stuff because there was some nudity in there,” he points out.
Soon, the actor, who is in his early 30s, was spending his birthday celebrating his latest gig and the fulfillment of a lifelong dream.
“Saturday the contract is done, Sunday is my birthday and we celebrate day and night and then Monday, at like 6:00 a.m., I’m in a car to the airport to fly to Atlanta. It was one of the best gifts I could ever get.”
Ruthless is a spin-off of Tyler Perry’s The Oval, takes place in the dark underworld of a cult responsible for kidnapping children, among other heinous acts. It stars Melissa L. Williams as Ruth, a cult member and mother, who was originally introduced to fans on The Oval. Callica plays an FBI agent who is tasked with exposing this cult and rescuing an undercover officer who may have succumbed to their will.
“He is the quintessential nice guy that people are really going to love,” says Callica of his character. “He’s a family man. He’s an FBI agent that loves his country. When you first meet him, he’s with his wife. Mack, the head of the FBI, comes to him and says we have a problem. One of our agents has gone undercover into this Ragadooshi cult and we’ve lost contact with him. We don’t know if he can’t speak to us for sake of safety or if he’s converted, but you’re our best guy and we need you to go sort this out.”
Rollins is forced to choose between the wishes of his wife and his duty to his country, and ultimately takes on the biggest case of his career. Callica says he based a lot of Rollins on one of his closest friends.
“His name is Kyle, but his nickname is Bighead. He’s actually a lawyer in Canada, a Crown Prosecutor in a city called Surrey in British Columbia,” says Callica. “I took a lot of my inspiration from, ‘How would Bighead behave here?’ When I started reading all of the scripts, he was the first person that came to mind. Shout out to my man, Bighead!”
While Callica has played members of law enforcement before, Ruthless raises the stakes for him in a very compelling way.
“It’s funny because I had one sex scene in Tales From The Hood and it was quite mild, but It was my first, so I was very nervous. In Ruthless there is more nudity and it’s slightly more coming at you. The audience is going to see a whole bunch of agent Brian Rollins.”
Ruthless is shaping up to be one of the darker titles from a creator who is primarily known for his comedies and dramas, but Callica has the utmost confidence in the man he affectionately calls “Mr. P.”
“It’s really unlike anything else he’s ever done. While The Oval’s context is dramatic, Sistas is more of a dramedy, there’s nothing this dark,” says Callica.
Even when compared to Perry’s recent thriller A Fall From Grace, Callica respectfully says Ruthless is on another level.
“My homegirl Bresha Webb was in A Fall From Grace and I found that from a content perspective, it’s a little lighter than Ruthless,” he says. “Not to scare viewers away, but we’re talking about a cult that kidnaps children and there’s drugs and sex, but it’s tastefully done. I see this earning [Perry] a whole new following. You don’t see a lot of this on television.”
Tyler Perry’s Ruthless premiers on BET+ March 19
Photo Credit: (Photo by John Wolfsohn/Getty Images)/ BET