For the first time in his career, Dule Hill plays a villain in his new movie “Sleight,” which opens Friday.
But the New Jersey native got his big break on “The West Wing” as Charlie Young, a high school grad who applies for a job as a White House messenger, and is asked instead to be the personal assistant to the President.
According to Hill, if “The West Wing” took place in the current administration’s White House, his character wouldn’t have taken the gig.
“I don’t think he would,” according to Hill, who came by the Daily News office to talk about his new flick.
“Charlie believed in what the administration was doing and what they stood for,” he said. “He probably would have found a messenger job somewhere else — maybe with Congress on Capitol Hill or with an NGO.”
Looking back now, Hill is well aware that everything that happened on the popular NBC series, which ran from 1999 to 2006 and won 26 Emmy Awards, wasn’t the norm.
“I remember the last time we won best drama,” he recalled. “I was walking up the stairs at the Emmys and we’re all happy and (producer) John Wells has this big smile on his face, and he said ‘Enjoy this, it doesn’t always go like this.’ So I took that in.”
In his new film, Hill encounters a different kind of magic. “Sleight” revolves around a druglord, played by Hill, who’s forced to match wits with a clever street magician working for him. Just like his character in the film, Hill is confounded by sleight-of-hand illusionists.
“I don’t know magic myself, but I’m intrigued by how these artists do that they do,” said Hill, who turns 42 on Tuesday. “I’m the kind of person who believes that if I focus hard enough, I can figure it out. But these cats are really that good, that you can look as much as you want to look and you’re not going to figure it out.”
The Hollywood Reporter announced this week that Hill will join the USA Network show “Suits” in July.
With Brian Niemietz