Djimon Hounsou, he of the 6’4” Olympian hard body, has one of those great Hollywood stories. Born in Benin he immigrated to Paris as a teenager where he lived on the streets until he was discovered (by Thierry Mugler to be precise) and thrust into the world of high fashion, catwalks, and print. Beloved by reknowned chroniclers of the male form like Herb Ritts (RIP) and Greg Gorman (nsfw Djimon) he eventually worked his way into the movies starting with Sandra Bernhard’s cult classic performance film Without You I’m Nothing (1990) –which you know makes me love him even more. Plus: it’s fun to say his name. (jee-mahn han-soo)
What makes Djimon Hounsou more desirable than the average model turned actor is that he is good at both professions. Just ask Cindy Crawford and thousands more: top notch model doesn’t often equal top notch actor. The combination isn’t quite as rare as that pink diamond that everyone goes batshit crazy for in Blood Diamond but it’s in the same ballpark: once in a blue moon.
That said Hounsou probably says yes too often as an actor. For an actor of mid level fame and a good amount of respect, why does he take those barely-there roles like Tomb Raider 2? And why on God’s green earth did he agree to get in that embarrassing colored breastplate for Eragon for instance? But it’s easy to see why casting directors are hot on him for genre pieces: it’s that otherworldly beauty (well another world than Hollywood at least), imposing physicality and screen presence even sans dialogue.
It wasn’t long ago that Hounsou was a surprise Oscar nominee for In America and he could be up for the same prize again for his new role as a fisherman turned action hero (well, sort of) in Blood Diamond. Though I should say this now: Calling Hounsou a supporting actor in this is like saying that Sidney Poiter was “supporting” Tony Curtis in The Defiant Ones. This film is essentially about two African men, one white (ginormous movie star Leonardo DiCaprio) and one black (Honsou), who are both thrust into considerable danger while pursuing the same thing (the titular diamond) for different reasons. DiCaprio has the more complex role. But he’s white and this is one of those movies, the subgenre White Liberal Guilt Epic so you know that the black characters will be one dimensional. Hounsou’s character is such a saint in this movie that he doesn’t even seem to understand the concept of lying. He’s utterly confused when DiCaprio tells him to do so. He’s either a saint or he’s ridiculously stupid. I’m hoping that the critical awards momentum that Hounsou is experiencing is due to a climactic scene wherein he movingly talks his violent son back into his arms rather than for his other scenes which seem to consist of screaming but I have my doubts.
And as a bonus, enjoy one of the happiest music videos ever made: "Love Will Never Do (Without You)" starring Janet Jackson and a bevy of hard bodies including Hounsou's. He's a little Kevin Aviance androgynous here but that's A-OK with us. He sure does look happy lipsynching. Other famous faces within include Antonio Sabato, Jr (the ex-Mr. Virginia Madsen, don'cha know) and one of Madonna's Blonde Ambition Truth or Dare boys, 'Carlton'.
Previous Hump Day Hotties: Scarjo & the twins a celebration of Scarlett and cleavage * Daniel "Bond, James Bond" Craig long time fancied, pre-007 * Brad Pitt golden über hotness and exhibitionist tendencies * Qi Shu & Chen Chang 3 times is not enough * Jamie Dornan & Asia Argento burning up Versailles * James McAvoy randy king of Scotland * Naomie Harris pretty chameleon * Hot on TV from "Agent Cooper" to "Faith" * Channing Tatum steppin' up and out * Hugh Jackman dancer, mutant, god * Uma Thurman 18 years of hotness. * Cheyenne Jackson Broadway to Hollywood * Season One of HDH Gyllenhaal, Li, Bernal, etc...
tags: Djimon Hounsou, movies, cinema, Blood Diamond, Africa, academy awards, celebrity, Leonardo DiCaprio