Terrence Howard Shows Pride
Source: Heather Newgen
Lionsgate is bringing the story of Jim Ellis to the big screen in the new drama Pride. In 1973, Jim Ellis (Terrence Howard), an educated African American, couldn't find work. He was given a temp job by the state at a rundown recreational center in one of the Philly's toughest neighborhoods. When his love for swimming drove him to rebuild the center, he recruited the kids in the area and started the city's first African-American swim team. Ellis coached the inner-city kids and gave them confidence and respect, something they had never had. However, when racism and violence threatened to tear the team apart, he had to convince them they can overcome it. The film also stars Bernie Mac and Tom Arnold.
ComingSoon.net talked to Terrence Howard about taking on the role.
ComingSoon.net: What's that on your lapel? Is it something special?
Terrence Howard: When I was in school, I learned about those asteroids in the Kuyper Belt that is made up of diamonds. It's a complete diamond – over a mile and a half in diameter that's in the asteroid belt and I was wondering how diamonds were formed in space and over the years I've been looking up companies and I found a company that makes it called Apollo Diamond. They actually grow diamonds through a process called CVD which is Chemical Vapor Deposition and the diamonds are single crystal. They grow a one carat diamond in a week – 24 of them inside of an incubator. In order to pull one diamond out of the ground, for mine diamonds, you have to move on average 250 tons of earth so – not to mention the destruction of land but the destruction of the ecosystems – you know, the little ants and the boll weevils and all of that. So these are now the compassionate diamonds and I would encourage people to look to the future and no longer destroy anyone.
CS: Did you know about Jim Ellis before you took this movie?
Howard: I knew about Jim Brown. I knew about James Brown. I knew about his nature, but I didn't know his work, you know, his personal work until I sat down with him in this little café off of Barren Hill Road in a little town in Philadelphia called Lafayette Hill. I had just come off the whole Oscar stuff and I was exhausted and tired of smiling and tired of doing all that stuff (laughs) and Jim looked at me and in one moment, he calmed my nature just by asking. He leaned forward and he was just smiling and he said "Why do you want to play me?" And I didn't have an answer and the only thing I could say was because of the question you just asked because I felt my entire mood shift. He has the ability of subtle suggestion and everyone who listens to him becomes susceptible to that and I was wondering. I wanted to know where does his power come from. And then after going and watching him coach, I still don't know, but perhaps it's just the fact that he cares. He genuinely cares because even though we took liberties in this script, you know, Jim was a math teacher in the Philadelphia schools at the time. He had a wife. He had a mentally handicapped son. He had 33, 34 students that he had to grade homework and do a curriculum and all of that stuff. But he took his mentally handicapped two-year-old son to that swimming pool every morning at 5AM, to that pool again at 3:35 every evening, and along with taking care of his responsibilities with his kid, with his son, he took on the responsibilities of children that had been abandoned by their own parents and the social system. He was generous with his time and the more I learned about him, the more guilty I felt because I have my three kids and I've always said, "Well, if I take care of mine, I'm alright." But our responsibility lies for everyone that is of our kind, and to be of our kind doesn't mean you have to be of our color. Anyone that's made in the image of God has to be taken care of like the image of God, you know. You're supposed to love them, and he's done that for 33 years without any acclaim, without the help of the school board, without the help of the recreational department. He said he sat down with Governor Rendell a number of times, talked to Mayor Street a number of times, and everyone that came across and not one has helped. He still has a swimming pool that does not have heat, and he has to run a hose every morning to heat up that water for his kids. He's still fighting to build a suitable facility, a recreational facility, where they can instruct students. You know we had only four Black people compete in the swimming in the Olympics in all the years of the Olympics. Why? Because we don't have the facilities to teach them and to expose them to it. The death rate for African Americans with regard to swimming -- one out of three African Americans can't swim. So, the sad thing about that [is] if one of their children falls in a swimming pool, the children will drown. Can you imagine being a parent and you can't save your child? You can't jump in there to save your child. So I have a great deal of respect for this man.
CS: What kind of training did you do for the role?
Howard: The question is what kind of training didn't I do. (laughs) I mean it felt like I was training to be an astronaut or something because I spent anywhere from 3,500 to 4,000 yards a day of swimming. To put that in perspective, it's 25 yards across the pool, so you're talking about 150 to 200 laps a day. Your shoulders are dead tired. Your spirit is tired. You hate water. You're all wrinkled up like you're 95 years old. It was hard and then on top of that, I still had to work with this guy named Darrell Foster whose Will Smith's trainer, and Darrell trained Sugar Ray Leonard so he demanded an hour of lifting and at least 45 minutes of running every day. No matter what time we started running – at 5AM and we ran another 3 miles every evening if we got off at 12 o'clock at night. There was no going to bed. "I don't care if you've got a 5AM wake-up call. We have to put the time in." And if you missed the time today, you had to put the time in tomorrow. So who wants to have to run 10 miles tomorrow? But he would make you do it. He would make you do it, but he would run with you and lift with you.
CS: Did you keep it up?
Howard: Yeah, I'm still there. Still there, but it's a team effort, you know. Anyone inside of Will's camp runs with him every day or they're no longer in his camp, anyone that's got an association with him. Like right now, Pierce, his hairdresser, cuts my hair now and Pierce asked Will, "Is it OK if I go and work with Terrence?" And he said, "Terrence is part of my camp and you are my connection to him. If I need to reach him, you're there and you're there to keep him running." (laughs) So this morning I was exhausted. I had the benefit of being in an art gallery last night. Hugh Hefner was there and some of his Playboy girls and I was having a good time (laughs) and then I got home at 12 o'clock and got up at 5 o'clock this morning and had my run, had my run, you know, so I felt like I'm doing my job. I still gotta do my hour of lifting. (Read More......)
Terrence Howard on Iron Man
Source: Heather Newgen
Terrence Howard will play Jim "Rhodey" Rhodes in Marvel Studios' Iron Man, which starts filming on March 12, and ComingSoon.net got a chance to ask the actor about playing the title character's confidante. Rhodes, a high ranking military officer and aviator, steers the team that develops the robotic suit that allows the sickly hero to fly around and battle bad guys.
CS/SHH!: Can you talk about going into "Iron Man" which is a total fantasy world?
Terrence Howard: Not when you're working with Robert Downey Jr.; there's no fantasy about that. You're talking about getting ready for some action, 'cause what I love about him and [director] Jon Favreau is you cannot predict who they are and what they're thinking. And then you add Jeff Bridges to the mix; I still think about the film he did with Kevin Spacey. He's from another planet because he's present, but then he's in front of you at the same time. And then you've got Gwyneth Paltrow, so there's nothing fantastical about it. It's like, "You say you want to be an actor?" Every single one of these people have been nominated or have won an Academy Award, so now let's see what you're made of.
CS/SHH!: Talk about your character in "Iron Man."
Howard: I play a guy named James Rhodes, who becomes War Machine, a lieutenant colonel in the Air Force. I'm the liaison between Starks Enterprises and the military in the department of acquisitions.
CS/SHH!: Have you seen the costumes for "Iron Man"?
Howard: We didn't do the costumes yet; I haven't seen any of Tony Stark's costumes, but the outfits these people had on were amazing, they were beautiful. I took this role and I wanted to work with Robert Downey because he has a spontaneity and a fearlessness that I get close to. But I'm still very conservative and reserved than the film choices I make; he doesn't care, he just does it. He believes jump out of an aircraft at 25,000 feet in the air and just go "wooooooooo" all the way down – I want to learn that, I want to learn that.
Paramount will distribute Iron Man on May 2, 2008. Howard can next be seen in Pride, opening March 23.
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Idlewild's Terrence Howard and Bryan Barber
Source: Heather Newgen
Although Terrence Howard is co-starring in Universal's musical Idlewild alongside Big Boi and André 3000 of OutKast, don't expect the Academy Award nominee to perform any musical numbers of his own. "This is something I dove in without reading the script because André 3000 was doing it and I was a huge fan of his. And I wasn't really in a position to be choosing characters like these themes, I couldn't choose at the time. [Director] Bryan Barber had called and I was trying to get my music off at the time. I was like, 'Yeah, I'll do the movie' thinking I'm gonna get an opportunity to do some music. And then I get there and start rehearsals and at rehearsal was literally the first time I saw the script because we finished 'Hustle & Flow' on the 9th of August. On the 10th I was on a plane. On the 11th, we were starting the rehearsals. I figured I could just fake my way through it and nobody would know the difference," Howard admitted.
However, after he saw the others perform, he decided against it. "When you see lions up there fighting, you don't jump in the cage. These cats, these guys are great. André and Macy Gray and Antwone, they've been at this for 15-odd years. They've mastered what they do. I will not come and trip them up. I don't even know how to hold the damn mic properly, so I wouldn't even try and touch it," Howard told ComingSoon.net
The film is set in the American south during the Prohibition period, and OutKast's video director Barber makes his feature film directorial debut while leading an all-star cast.
"Music videos are my training ground, luckily enough for me. I didn't get into USC. They denied me (laughs). I think I had one day to do each performance, so I shot the way that I knew how. It was pretty simple. There were so many amazing dancers... and I really wanted to capture them in a way that I'd never seen dance captured before," Barber said.
The story focuses on classic Southern characters from a 1930's African American point of view and told through elaborate hip hop and classic blues song and dance pieces with original music performed the OutKast way. Rooster (Big Boi) is the flashy headliner and manager of a nightclub called "Church" while his best friend Percival is a shy piano player at the club and has aspirations of becoming a musician, but is guilted by his father to take over the mortician family business.
"[I named the club Church] because they invested their time and emotion and faith in the music. Big Boi wrote the song called 'Church.' And I wrote one scene off of that song. I don't think it's predictable for them to be in a church and that's why it feels like a juke joint and everyone's in this juke joint," Barber explained.
As the son of a moonshiner, Rooster dabbles in some shady dealings and his troubles worsen when he witnesses Trumpy (Howard) murder two people and takes control of the liquor influx of the club. Since Howard came onto the project so last minute, he had no idea he was about to play a mobster, so he really leaned on the first-time director for support.
"Bryan was so hands on, that he was the gangster I was emulating. Because everything was a smile, but his eyes, there's something very deadly about his eyes. I always looked to him for every scene. Every motivation. I mean, he'd pull me to the side and because he knew that I wasn't so well versed in what he was trying to accomplish, I hadn't seen his videos, he didn't mind walking me through, hand holding me. But then he'd let the little kids run around when they wanted to. He's a really great teacher."
Even though Barber was tremendously accommodating in helping Howard with his character, the now established actor didn't do the same for newcomer Big Boi. "Well, see, most of the time when he's on stage, he's on stage by himself and he had this whole avenue of opportunities to do whatever he wants. He could focus on any audience member that's there to watch him perform and gain strength. But here he was this close to me. I violated every sense of space that he had, so in trying to maintain your composure, you cannot do it with somebody else telling him what to do. You have to be able to stand right there. Now one of the funniest things when he was trying to hand me that wad of money, his hand was going like this, it was shaking and we noticed that. I could've pretended like it didn't happen but I just brought it into the character," Howard said.
"After they said cut, I said, 'You're scared, aren't you? I'm going to run right over you now.' And he took a deep breath and said, 'We're here to fight. Let's play.' And he came. I don't believe you should take the gloves, you should put on gloves for anybody. Everybody has to be able to hold their own. And he did. And he found his comedic sense in his character. When he found himself afraid, he reverted back to what he used to do in other situations, what we all do. We make light of a heavy situation with humor. That's what makes a character real. And he found ways of putting those in there and he carried himself- - I mean, I don't know what help I gave him because I wasn't trying to help him. And I was letting him know we are at war. And he stood up for it. I loved it."
Idlewild opens in theaters on Friday, August 25.
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Howard is savoring his flow
By Donna Freydkin
NEW YORK — In the span of one breakfast, Terrence Howard expounds on the healing powers of baby oil, the philosophy of Lebanese writer Khalil Gibran and why it's perfectly OK to like Kelly Clarkson's music.
Howard's mind hurtles at breakneck speed in a thousand different directions. The one destination he's ecstatic to have reached? His recent best-actor Oscar nomination for playing a rapping pimp in Hustle & Flow and a best-picture nod for his other big 2005 movie, Crash. The highlight of hearing his name announced Jan. 31 at 5:30 a.m. PT is "just knowing that I have a shot. Knowing that my work was good enough to be considered among the best of this year," Howard says.
Unlike the other nominees, most of whom non-chalantly say they were sound asleep, the exuberant Howard admits to not only watching the announcement, but setting his alarm to make sure he didn't sleep through it. He's excited about finally being recognized, says Hustle director Craig Brewer, because "for years, (he's) been honing his craft and waiting for his break."
"Terrence is loving the attention, and it's genuine," says Crash director Paul Haggis. "He's really excited about it, and it's how we'd hope to react if it happened to us."
Adds Malcolm D. Lee, who directed Howard in 1999's The Best Man in an unlikable role that got him critical notice: "He doesn't put on pretenses. Every actor has some level of egocentrism. They want the limelight, but that's not what defines Terrence. He does it because he loves to do it."
So far, Howard's fellow nominees, Brokeback Mountain's Heath Ledger and Capote's Philip Seymour Hoffman, have won the majority of the acting prizes leading up to the Oscars, but for Howard, a little acknowledgment goes a long way.
"This is my first starring role in a movie," says Howard, still sounding a bit shellshocked. "I was sitting there talking to Tim Robbins last night, and he made a statement that I believe to be true.
"He's like, 'This is Philip Seymour Hoffman's year.' And I said, 'Well, I felt like this was a year in which I was just invited to a party.' I'm so glad that I took supporting roles for 20 years so that when I finally got a starring vehicle, I could do my very best at it."
And Howard, 36, is not remotely sick of the accolades being lavished on him after years of slogging away in films such as 2001's Angel Eyes. "You get sick of not being interviewed," he says before digging into scrambled eggs, bacon and French toast with strawberries.
He doesn't even mind being called an overnight success. "Let them think I'm a genius. Don't spoil the fantasy."
Howard is serious about keeping his end of the movie-star bargain. He runs three miles on the treadmill every day and does pushups because "it's so necessary. This is our car," says the actor, pointing to his body. He rubs baby oil on his skin to soften it and files his nails. "Maybe I'm metrosexual. I'm so glad we live in a time where it's now OK for a man to take care of himself."
The actor, who will wear Dolce & Gabbana to the Oscars, always is dressed immaculately, and this morning is no exception. "I'm a black man in the Four Seasons," he shrugs. "I'm not just representing myself. I'm representing a film."
His quirks are typical, says Victoria Fredrick, his friend of 18 years and current manager.
How does Howard's mind works? Fredrick has no idea.
If a group of people were looking at the same abstract painting, "Terrence has a different interpretation than everyone else," she says. "Don't get him started on the shape of the universe. We'll be on the plane, and he'll want to get the camera and take a picture of a cloud. You'll think he'll forget about it, and later he'll ask if you got it developed because he wants to put it on his computer. He's not bound by conventionality."
That independent streak has influenced the types of roles Howard has chosen for himself. Take Hustle. Howard, who listens to James Taylor, Paul Simon and Jim Croce, and likes Clarkson's voice and attitude, detests rap, decries violence and dislikes his character DJay, the perennially sweaty, short-tempered, gaudily coiffed hustler who dreams of breaking into the music industry. But "after you've done it, you've got to take pride in your work," he says. "I love my emotionally, morally deformed child."
That child has brought with him a host of new problems, such as being too busy to squeeze in a lunch with Oscar-nominated Brokeback Mountain director Ang Lee, who walked up to Howard during a flight from Los Angeles to New York and praised his work. "High-class problems," Howard says with a laugh. "No, I can't do (lunch) today. I'm swamped."
And having fellow Oscar nominee George Clooney serve as his Miss Lonely Hearts. Howard, who split from wife Lori last year, likes "pretty girls" but is single. And now that he's famous, there's the issue of not being able to find "the pure raindrop in the rainstorm."
So at the Oscar nominees' luncheon last week, Howard turned for guidance to Clooney, who told him " 'You have every possible chance that you want. You've got to make sure the things you choose are the things you want,' " Howard says. Besides, "maybe me and my ex-wife will work out again. There's always hope for that."
Ladies aside, Howard mostly hangs out and plays music.
"He just talks to you and strums on the guitar, and the conversation will go from the crunk to the cosmic," Brewer says. Howard, who studied chemical engineering, "can quickly shift to quantum physics and electrical engineering and how watches are designed. He's a gifted, intelligent man."
And one getting used to the increasing amount of notice he attracts. "He loves the attention and doing what he does and getting paid and recognized for it. But he also wouldn't die if he didn't do it anymore," says Best Man's Malcolm Lee. "Terrence is passionate about life and truth and his artistry. Beyond that, he's like everybody else and wants to have some fun."
When he's not working non-stop, that is. Howard is shooting the drama August Rush with Robin Williams and Freddie Highmore and then plays Supreme Court Justice Thurgood Marshall in The Crusaders. Next, he wants to portray someone off his rocker. "Khalil Gibran said madness frees us from the world's understanding of us," he says. "So I want to play someone a little freer."
Haggis praises Howard's professional "fearlessness, which is there probably because of what happened to his dad. He knows that nothing worse than that can happen to him."
In 1971, Howard saw his father fatally stab a man when the two scuffled while standing in line with their kids to see a department store Santa. His dad subsequently spent time in prison.
But co-opting his father's experience "always hit a sour note with me," Howard says. "What happened to him is what happened to him. I don't shrink away. I'm me, sometimes happy, sometimes not."
He's happiest when he lives up to "a challenge I've set for myself. For me, a challenge is not to smoke a cigarette today. When I get to the end of this night, and I wake up tomorrow morning, I'll be happy."
About the only part of his life that's unsettled right now is his family. Howard's ex-wife lives in Philadelphia with their two daughters and son.
And his mother is undergoing chemotherapy for cancer. He's eager to finish his press duties today so he can go to Philly to see his "babies," Aubrey, 12, Hunter, 10, and Heavenly, 8.
"You tolerate it," he says of their time apart. "There's no way of handling it or turning it into a good thing. But it's a necessary sacrifice to gain the finances to take care of them in the best way possible. Yeah, I sacrificed this year with my child ... to possibly buy a home for my mom and help her with her cancer treatment, to give my daddy some retirement."
His children, Fredrick says, "miss him so much. He rotates the kids. One he took to London. They each get a turn to go with him. He's taking one to the Oscars."
Howard frets that his kids are so used to him being away that, over the phone, they ask him " 'How long are you going to be home for?' " he says. "Like it's a special event for me to be home. Right now I'm in the full grind. You've got to lay down the cornerstones as quickly as possible."
To that end, he's fitting in red-carpet appearances between days spent on his Manhattan movie set. But career-building aside, Malcolm Lee has a bit of aesthetic advice before Howard goes to the Oscars (airing live March 5, 8 p.m. ET/5 PT on ABC):
"I wish he'd take the straightener out of his hair. Hasn't let go of the character of DJay. Terrence, your hair ain't like that, brother!"
Terrence Howard, actor
By Stephen Galloway
(This profile originally appeared in the Actors issue, published Dec. 12, 2005)
In Hollywood, Terrence Howard is the very definition of an overnight success. The actor had been steadily employed for years, appearing in numerous supporting roles, but he was propelled into the spotlight in 2005 with his depiction of a tightly wound TV producer in Paul Haggis' Lions Gate ensemble drama "Crash" and his star-making turn as a Memphis pimp who dreams of becoming a rapper in Paramount Classics' "Hustle & Flow."
Howard was reluctant to accept the role of DJay in Craig Brewer's critically lauded "Hustle" for fear that the project would turn out to be little more than an exercise in blaxploitation. But after deciding to do the film, he conducted in-depth research, including living with a pimp in Cleveland. "I began to talk to people who were in that walk of life, and I came across this man, Tweety Bird, whom my uncle had introduced me to when I was younger," Howard says. "I always saw pain in him."
In all, Howard spent time with more than 120 pimps and prostitutes to prepare for the role. He also devoted long hours to studying rap music, though he's the first to admit that he's not exactly a fan of the genre. "I like country and flamenco," he says.
Eight years ago, Howard nearly abandoned Hollywood in despair, moving to Philadelphia and taking a job as a carpet cleaner for $7.50 an hour. Now, he is being touted as an Oscar contender for "Hustle," which has enjoyed deafening buzz since it debuted to considerable fanfare at January's Sundance Film Festival.
But while he is enjoying this wave of success, Howard admits that he hasn't quite left behind his days as a struggling actor. "I only made $12,000 on 'Hustle & Flow,'" he says. "I made $9,000 on 'Crash.'"
Not that Howard is bitter -- he's just carrying a lot of weight on his shoulders.
He is committed to supporting his father, who spent time in prison after being convicted of manslaughter. "My father said to me in tears, 'I am so sorry to put this on you, son, but you are my retirement plan.'"
And despite the new offers rolling in -- Howard has a prominent role in Paramount's "Get Rich or Die Tryin'," and he is set to star opposite Hayden Christensen and Jessica Alba in the Weinstein Co.'s thriller "Awake" -- he is committed to remembering those who helped him get to where he is today.
"Tweety Bird lent the most of himself to me, and then he died three months before the film came out, from the life he was forced to live," Howard says. "He was still struggling, still living in a house surrounded by roaches, still living in the ghetto."
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Terrence Howard has his own 'Hustle'
By BOB LONGINO
The Atlanta Journal-Constitution
MEMPHIS — With blistering work in this year's hot ensemble drama "Crash" and Oscar talk buzzing around his electric performance in the energetic, ultra-indie "Hustle & Flow," opening today, Terrence Howard is a mere step away from possible fandemonium.
He's here in the city where he spent summer 2004 filming "Hustle," sweating through the Deep South heat in his role as a low-level pimp trying to reinvent himself as a rapper. But Howard — the Hollywood outsider who insists on living in Philadelphia, the 36-year-old Method actor with the Brando bent — is uncomfortable trying to reinvent himself as a mega-celebrity.
"You have to fight for the truth in acting," he says about chiseling out a career, his words falling as soft as kitten paws. "The first time you find the truth, [studio suits] want you to water it down to a lie. To make it palatable to their formula. That's just not right. So I have a hard time battling because I just want to be a good actor. I definitely don't want to be somebody's movie star."
But Howard has just stepped, at least for the day, into the trappings of a Hollywood-style life. In Memphis recently for the high-watt premiere of "Hustle," he's riding a white stretch limo rented by Paramount Classics en route to lunch at downtown's Rendezvous, the tourist haven for barbecue. He's dapper. New tan jacket. White linen pants. Fly dress-up Hush Puppies.
Who designed the jacket? Heck if Howard knows. And in a couple of hours he'll have to change into another new set of threads for the film premiere's red carpet.
"A movie star has all these codes they have to go by and these formulas that make them a movie star," he says over a plate of corn bread and greens made special for him at the restaurant. "And I'm not like that."
While Howard has been praised by critics for his work in "Crash" and "The Best Man," "Hustle" may well be his big breakthrough part. As the film's barely-getting-by pimp, he brings a raging inner intensity to the role. He's part Brando, part De Niro and all Daniel Day-Lewis, employing leisured pacing and a spot-on accent seemingly steeped in Mississippi River mud.
Howard's demeanor at lunch is a little coy. He seems to like playing the part of the anti-Hollywood actor.
Producer, director gamble
But he's is also intensely philosophical — like when he talks about how the racial story line in "Crash" made him think more deeply.
"We're all made in God's image," he says. "Each one of these cells are the same cells regenerated [from] Adam when he was created.
"It is Adam sitting right here," he says, shooting his eyes toward an open chair at the table. "Some small part of me had a conversation with God 6,000 years ago. So when I see that in other people, it makes it so much easier to accept them and overlook anything they might do wrong."
Maybe that includes reluctant Hollywood executives. When producer John Singleton and newbie director Craig Brewer first shopped "Hustle," no studio bit.
The black producer and white writer-director wanted to make a racially diverse movie in Memphis about a pimp and hookers, big-money rappers and weed, strippers and nameless johns. And people looking to rekindle the dreams of their youth — as Howard says, "for their name to become clean again. And keep it clean. 'Give me a clean garment to put on so I can take this old one off and not remember the stains of yesterday.' "
Singleton ultimately mortgaged his home to finance the production, which cost close to $3 million.
The film's buzz escalated as soon as "Hustle" was screened in January at Sundance, where it won the festival's audience award. The movie splashes on-screen like a modern-day "Bonnie and Clyde," "The French Connection" for a new millennium. "Hustle" boasts gut-grabbing cinematography that absorbs the real-life, hard-knocks community of south Memphis and performances from racially diverse actors whom Time magazine's Richard Corliss has dubbed "the best ensemble cast since 'Ray.' "
Paramount Classics bought the film for $9 million and has pumped out the marketing, with ads blanketing MTV. It's a particularly tense time. Parent studio Paramount Pictures has had a long series of box office and critical disappointments, including last year's "Alfie" and 2003's "Paycheck," "Timeline" and "The Hunted."
In recent days, Paramount's new chief, Brad Grey, has drastically altered the studio's marketing team, which had been selling "Hustle" with a trailer that pushed the film's main song, "Whoop That Trick," written by Memphis rapper Al Kapone.
'I just don't like idiots'
That marketing plan angered Howard.
"When I saw the trailer, I said, 'This is "Ghetto Music, Booty Call, Part 16," ' " he says. "It looks like some music-motivated film when most of this film is dialogue."
He also balked at studio suggestions that he pose for photos for Jet magazine without his white co-star Taryn Manning. Howard says he was told Jet wouldn't put the white actors on its cover.
"Anything where the whole cast is not included I'm not participating in it," Howard says. "That caused a big upset. 'Terrence is rocking the boat.' But that's my responsibility. I'm No. 1 on the call sheet. This is how my movie is going to go down.
"I don't know what kind of backlash I will get from this. But we've been trying to pick up the same trash off the floor for 50-something years."
He's long been known in Hollywood for his feisty disposition.
Director Brewer says he and producer Stephanie Allain ("Biker Boyz") were eager to hire Howard but various studio executives would say, " 'He'd be perfect, but don't cast him.' "
Howard had tangled with the makers of "The Best Man" over his character in that film, which, when released, received critical praise, especially for his performance.
"He's so pretty. I think Hollywood likes him to stand on his mark and look pretty. But Terrence really is an actor in an old-school way," Brewer says. "I met with Terrence and said, 'Are you hard to work with?'
"He was like, 'I just don't like idiots.' "
At first, Howard says he was reluctant about taking on the role of the pimp, DJay, in "Hustle."
"I was very cautious as to whether they would allow this to be a vehicle of truth or whether it would be a stereotype," he says. "I didn't want to add fuel to an ugly fire. And I thought, 'A pimp who wants to be a rapper? Being made by a white guy?' "
He laughs at the apparent absurdity. But he thrust himself into the role.
"I talked to hundreds of pimps and prostitutes over 2 1/2 years," he says.
Portraying such a character was a struggle for him that he says many people don't understand.
"I don't really act," he says. "I fall into and become. Sometimes you'll learn a secret that you weren't supposed to know. A secret about myself or about life. What is acceptable to you, you know? And I was scared, man. I was scared that I wouldn't be able to pull myself out of it."
He's looking for his place in movies. But he's committed to staying put in Philadelphia and make Hollywood do the calling.
"I'm not going to be some name on a piece of paper — 'OK, he's the 10th person coming in today,' " he says of the studio practice of bringing in a lineup of actors to read for various parts.
"For you to meet with me, it's going to cost you a first-class ticket to L.A.," he says. "You are going to put me in a hotel, you're going to get me a car — and I know that you are not going to be wasting my time. That I am someone under serious consideration."
Howard's now speaking in the hustle and flow of man as dedicated craftsman.
Maybe he doesn't want to be a movie star. But if Hollywood execs want to work with him, they'll have to respect him like one.
Spotlight on Terrence Howard
Source: Edward Douglas
By the end of 2005, there's a good chance that everyone will know the name "Terrence Howard." Maybe that's because the star of Craig Brewer's Hustle & Flow, which opened this past weekend, has been on everyone's lips since the film debuted at the Sundance Film Festival in January. His performance as DJay, a Memphis pimp turned rapper, helped the movie win the coveted jury prize and a lucrative distribution deal. Even before audiences got to see it, Howard was already impressing them with his powerful part among the ensemble cast of Paul Haggis' Crash and the two performances have made Howard an actor to watch. Wisely, Hustle & Flow producer John Singleton immediately found a part for Howard in his next feature Four Brothers. Howard's relationship with rap will continue, as he co-stars in the film debut from 50 Cent, Get Rich or Die Tryin', directed by In America's Jim Sheridan, and stars in The Outkast's HBO movie, My Life in Idlewild, both out later this year.
Born in Chicago and then raised in Cleveland, Terrence Howard was ready to get a degree in chemical engineering at Pratt before the call to acting beckoned. Maybe it was the influence of his great grandmother, actress Minnie Gentry, who Howard helped rehearse with when he was younger, but at the age of 19, he started crashing auditions, eventually landing a part on The Cosby Show before a conflict with a casting star forced him to start over. Ever since then, Howard had been working as a character actor in dozens of movies, including a role in Jamie Foxx's own breakout film Ray.
ComingSoon.net recently had a chance to talk to Howard about the amazing character he created with Craig Brewer for Hustle & Flow, as well as how the movie is likely to further elevate his career.
CS!: How does it feel to be considered "the next big thing" thanks to your performances both in Crash and Hustle & Flow? Does this sudden interest in Terence Howard come as a surprise to you?
Howard: Man, I feel great. Everybody smiling and looking at me like y'all know something I don't. Like you got a car waiting for you when you get home. I think a basketball player knows he's a good basketball player before he gets in the NBA, but I'm not really aware of people being aware of me beyond you guys telling me, you know? The only thing that really matters is that in the initial part of my career, the worst mistake I've ever made was try to do things to please the audience thinking how the audience is going to respond if I do this. When I stopped doing that and started thinking about what feels natural and what feels right to me and started pleasing myself, then it became good. So I'm appreciative that people are liking what I'm doing, but whether they like it or not, it doesn't matter, because I won't change what I'm doing. (Read More...)
His time has come
By JOHN CLARK
The New York Daily News
On the day the Daily News interviewed him, actor Terrence Howard had a medical emergency. He woke up in a New York hotel with a badly bloodshot left eye. It turned out to be an allergy, although there could have been another explanation.
"Might have been Beyoncé last night," Howard said. "I was doing the BET Awards. She and Destiny's Child were performing. And she comes out in the audience and pulls me up onstage and sets me down in a chair and proceeds to give me a lap dance for three minutes in front of the rest of the world. Putting her rear end in my face, pulling on my hair, my head."
It's a wonder the other eye wasn't bloodshot, too.
It's all a part of the whirlwind life Howard is leading these days, courtesy of his electrifying, Brando-like performance in Craig Brewer's "Hustle & Flow," which set off a bidding war at this year's Sundance Film Festival.
In the movie, which opens July 22, Howard plays DJay, a small-time Memphis pimp and dope dealer who tries to escape his sordid existence by becoming a rap artist. Howard took the role even though he'd never rapped before. However, he knew the character of DJay very well. In fact, one of the inspirations for DJay was sitting close by him while he talked.
"This is my DJay influence, man," Howard said of his uncle, Nathan Hawkins, a blues guitarist who claims to have spent some time in the New York underworld. "He used to feed me stories about what really took place in people's hearts. Everybody doing something bad didn't necessarily mean it came from a bad place. Sometimes it was from a hurt place. He just gave me the sensibilities of how people were in the street. He used to talk about Tweety Bird. Most of DJay came from Tweety Bird."
Tweety Bird was (and still is) a pimp in Cleveland, where both Hawkins and Howard grew up. Hawkins said he learned the true nature of poverty when he got into a terrible fight with Tweety Bird's brother after stealing a pork chop from him.
"Little did I realize it was his meal for the whole day," Hawkins said.
Howard, now 36, recalled the time when he was 12 years old and Tweety Bird gave him $20 because he knew Howard didn't have any money. Tweety Bird's impoverished background and occasional generosity also helped Howard understand DJay.
It was important that he did because, despite Howard's long résumé as a supporting player in such films as "Dead Presidents," "Ray" and the recent "Crash," Howard wasn't Hollywood's idea of DJay. He was Brewer's, though.
"To be honest with you, the studios weren't feeling Terrence Howard at all," said Brewer, who was inspired to cast him on the strength of his subtle turn in the 1999 wedding comedy "The Best Man." "They said, 'Let's get a Will Smith or a Denzel Washington. If a big star like that wants to do it, that will get the movie made.' We were like, 'But Terrence is right for it.'"
After the project was shopped around for two years, producer John Singleton stepped in to finance it from his own pocket, though he didn't make a complete leap of faith.
"Singleton was scared," Howard said. "He took me into the studio for a 12-hour session just to see. He said, 'If I'm going to put $3 million out there, it's important for me to know that he can rap."'
Howard got by because he understood DJay so well and because of his musicality. In fact, he was tuning his new guitar while talking to The News. Then he unselfconsciously began playing a song he wrote that was prompted by "Hustle & Flow."
"So I just hold on tight/Keep hoping things will turn around/I'm so glad now that I've finally found a love I can lean on/Finally found the truth I can believe on/Finally found the dream I can dream on with you," he sang.
COURTED BY KINGS
Howard's musical temperament surfaces in the movie as DJay feels his way through the creation of a rap song in a makeshift studio. The audience experiences this in full, not through the usual clever montage of shots that give the impression of someone creating. To Brewer, the scene is the point of the movie.
He hopes that DJay's struggle to express himself will make rap accessible to audiences who usually dismiss it out of hand.
In addition to rapping, Howard also had to master what Brewer calls "the Memphis sound," a mumble he associates with such Memphis natives as Isaac Hayes, Ike Turner and Al Kapone.
It's this mumble, coupled with Howard's physicality and restraint, that has prompted the Brando comparisons. And that has got Hollywood's attention, though Howard insists the interest has been in developing relationships with him rather than projects for him to star in.
He's not complaining. Will Smith has come forward to offer help in home-schooling Howard and his wife's three children. Producer Brian Grazer and Paramount head Brad Grey have sat down with him. Producer Joel Silver invited him over to his Malibu home.
"We're walking through his house, [Silver] said to me, 'The Matrix' bought this house,'" Howard said. "Looking at me like, 'You do what you're supposed to do and everything you want can be yours.' Everybody has been so encouraging to me. It's a great time."
Terrence Howard’s not afraid to be difficult
"Hustle & Flow’ star felt a connection to the pimp he portrays in film
The Associated Press
BEVERLY HILLS, Calif. - A Sunday morning sun shimmers over high-end boutiques. Terrence Howard is sitting at a table outside the Regent Beverly Wilshire Hotel, dragging on his cigarette, eying the tourists posing across the street, when a bus door opens.
“You’re the best actor, my brother!” the driver yells, giving Howard a thumbs-up.
“Thank you my friend. Thank you brother,” Howard says, smiling politely. Leaning toward an interviewer, he says with a whisper, “I paid him to do that.”
Not that he’d have to. After a career filled with supporting roles, Howard, 36, is a hot Hollywood property thanks to “Hustle & Flow,” writer-director Craig Brewer’s much-hyped comic drama. Starring Howard as a small-time pimp-turned-rapper, the film premiered at the Sundance Festival to deafening applause — and was snatched up by Paramount for a festival-record $9 million.
When the reviews came in, everyone was talking about Terrence Howard.
“It’s kind of strange to me,” says Howard. “It’s always been about the grind for me, you know. I’m just so used to being a part of something, being the thing edited out. But I knew I had it in me.”
So did producer Stephanie Allain, who wanted a unique actor for the complex role of DJay, a dangerous yet gentle hustler — he has a policy against hitting his women — longing for a better life. Allain didn’t want just some boy in the ’hood, but a man who could humanize the character.
“I was casting another movie at the time, ‘Biker Boys,”’ says Allain, “and I went to meet with Terrence and was telling him about ‘Hustle & Flow.’ As I was talking to him about his life and what he wanted to do he just felt like DJay, because he wanted more.”
For the actor, there was a definite connection to DJay’s struggle.
“In the last six years, I was divorced. Pretty much blackballed out of the business,” he says. “I had been pimping myself for the longest time. Selling pieces of my own conscience for some monetary gain. Sooner or later, you see your whole life savings of morality, gone. You try to cash in your chips and realize, ‘Oh damn, I don’t have any chips left.’ So you’ve got to start over.”
Not afraid to play an antihero
A native of Chicago, (he grew up in Cleveland and Los Angeles and spent summers in New York City with his great-grandmother, stage actress Minnie Gentry) Howard now lives in Philadelphia with his three children and wife, Lori, whom he remarried two years ago. He enjoys the normalcy of Philadelphia, where his wife runs the family construction business.
“I can build a cabinet faster than I can a character — and with greater precision,” he says.
So when he first read the “Hustle & Flow” script, he was intimidated by the complexities of the character.
“The thing about it,” he says, “was how do you make an unlikable person, an antihero, into a hero of a human spirit. Because that’s the true hero of this movie, the human spirit and its resilience and determination to do more and more.”
What resonates is Howard’s “brooding thoughtfulness” and “emotional immediacy,” says Daily Variety critic Todd McCarthy, likening the actor to a young Marlon Brando.
“Terrence is just so watchable,” producer John Singleton says, “even when words aren’t coming out of his mouth. For years he’s been that guy in the background, that you were always watching, always looking over the shoulder of the main guy looking at Terrence.”
In 1995, Howard had his breakout role in “Mr. Holland’s Opus,” then turned in a scene-stealing performance as the crazed bank robber in “Dead Presidents.” He built on his reputation as Taye Diggs’ womanizing best bud in 1999’s “The Best Man” — which earned him an Independent Spirit Award nomination — followed most recently by a major role in the critically acclaimed ensemble drama “Crash.”
But the limelight has eluded him, marred by a reputation of “being difficult,” he says. “But I heard Marlon Brando was difficult. Heard Denzel was difficult. But Denzel was very smart. He wouldn’t fight nobody. Me? I was young. ‘You gonna disrespect? OK, c’mon.’ Then the claws would come out. So it took me a little longer.”
A little older, and intensely introspective, Howard has two more films scheduled for release this year: “Four Brothers,” directed by Singleton, and “Get Rich or Die Trying,” in which he co-stars with the rapper 50 Cent.
“It’s like what was said in ‘The Alchemist,”’ Howard says. “’When you seek out your own personal legend, the universe conspires to help you along the way.’ And maybe that’s what’s the cause of all of this right now.”
Right now, it’s three women from Brazil who have stopped to ask Howard to pose for pictures. He obliges graciously.
“It’s like you don’t meet any strangers now,” he says. “And even though people just know me through the work, they have a fondness, like they’ve been able to see through a mirror-plated glass and see something, see their own reflection. That means I must have been honest to some degree.”
The following article appeared in the May 2005 issue of Ebony Magazine
Additional information about Terrence Howard
Terrence Howard@Internet Movie Database