"'Kojak' was happening in my neighborhood," Rhames said in discussing the big screen version that premieres March 25. Rhames, 44, was raised in Harlem, where he was in regular contact with the criminal element of the period.
"I grew up with criminals," he told the New York Daily News. "I grew up with dope dealers and guys who are now in jail and dead, and I don't condone their behavior, but I understand it.
"All of those guys I grew up with in my neighborhood, they live in me. The drug dealers, the criminals, the gangbangers ... those were friends of mine, and in some ways they gave me life. In some ways, them dying showed me what not to do."