“Tracking Terrence: Six Favorite Flicks”
Sunday, March 5, 2017

Terrence Howard in Hustle & Flow


By Samantha Ofole-Prince

Terrence Howard really needs no formal introduction. We all know him as the music mogul, Lucious Lyon, from the hugely successful Fox Network drama “Empire.” An actor with incredible versatility, he’s played several cops, a doctor, a politician and a pimp and has been in over 40 movies since making his scene-stealing big screen debut as Cowboy in the 1995 Hughes brother’s film “Dead Presidents.”  From the womanizing Quentin in Malcolm D. Lee’s indie film, “The Best Man,” a swim coach in “Pride,” to former South African leader Nelson Mandela in “Winnie Mandela,” the Chicago native has had quite a prolific career.  Samantha Ofole-Prince delves into Howard’s film archives to scoop out our six favorites.


Hustle & Flow

A talented nobody following a dream is always a relatable subject and in” Hustle & Flow,” Howard played a small-time Memphis pimp named DJay, who dreams of becoming a rap star.  In a true star making turn, Howard, who starred alongside his “Empire” co-star Taraji P. Henson, commands the screen as DJay and is utterly convincing as a pimp with musical aspirations. Nominated for both an Academy Award and a Golden Globe, Howard performed all the tracks for his character, including “It’s Hard Out Here For A Pimp,” which won the Academy Award for Best Original Song.

The Best Man

Director Malcolm D. Lee’s “The Best Man” became one of the top-grossing black movies of all time, and Howard notched up an Image Award for Outstanding Supporting Actor, an Independent Spirits Award nomination and a Chicago Film Critics Association Award nomination for his role as “Quentin” in this true to life engaging film of career-oriented childhood friends who reunite for a wedding.  As a guitar-playing womanizer with no morals nor vocal filter, his character was a hit with audiences and he reprised the role in the 2013 sequel “The Best Man Holiday.”


Lee Daniel’s The Butler

This was Howard’s first flick with “Empire” helmer Lee Daniels and although he had a small role as a neighbor who has a brief fling with Oprah Winfrey’s character, we love this one as it’s one of the boldest cinematic portrayals of the plight of American blacks ever filmed. Inspired by Wil Haygood’s 2008 Washington Post article. Titled “A Butler Well Served by This Election,” it’s a warm, unforgiving, triumphant movie which recounts the story of a fictional Cecil Gaines (Forest Whitaker), a White House butler who served during seven presidential administrations between 1957 and 1986, Winfrey played his wife Gloria, a vulnerable character who has an extramarital paramour with the sleazy neighbor played by Howard.


The Brave One

A little different from his slate of unsavory characters, womanizers and small time hustlers, Howard starred alongside Jodie Foster in this psychological thriller.  Taking its roots from the ‘70s flick “Death Wish,” which starred Charles Bronson as a gun toting vigilante, Foster played a woman desperate to protect herself after losing her fiancé in a vicious attack in a New York park.  Playing a sympathetic NYPD Detective who comes to her rescue, there is great screen chemistry between Foster and Howard, who brings an enormously strong emotional core to his character. “The wonderful thing about Terrence in this role is that he has such a depth of sensitivity and emotion and yet he is playing this hard-edged detective who’s seen it all,” Foster told us back in 2007. Directed by Neil Jordan (“The Crying Game”), the film is about the psychology of revenge and whether a person who takes a stance as a vigilante has crossed over a certain moralistic line and is a different genre for Howard.


Get Rich or Die Tryin

In this portrayal of a gangster’s meteoric rise to fame and fortune, Howard played a music manager in the flick loosely based on the life of rapper 50 Cents.  As an unbalanced psycho named Bama, he saves 50 Cents life in jail. A bond is established between the two in the film and he later becomes 50 Cents music manager once on the outside.  On the surface, this is nothing more than another methodical portrayal of hustlers and gangsters mired by violence in an area where crime seems the only way out, but this is an effective, fast-paced, graphic and above all, a very well made film and Howard as Bama has some of the funniest lines in the film.


Red Tails

This film about the elite Tuskegee Airmen who overcame segregation and prejudice to become military pilots who fought in World War II, is one of our favorite Howard flicks. A respectable role in a historical masterpiece, ?Howard plays Col. A.J. Bullard, one of the commanders of the Tuskegee Airmen, America’s first African American air regimen.  Set in Italy during 1944, the cast is a cohesive crew that include film favorites David Oyelowo, Nate Parker and Cuba Gooding Jr.  The 2012 American war film was directed by Anthony Hemingway in his feature film directorial debut.

Terrence Howard can be seen in the new supernatural thriller “Ghost of New Orleans,” which is out on video on demand and Digital HD release, on February 17. Check out the trailer below:https://youtu.be/FVO7nOx3kQI

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Printed in the March 5, 2017 - March 18, 2017 edition.


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