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Djimon Hounsou: from the streets to Hollywood… Fabulous fate of the Beninese actor!

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The Beninese star of Hollywood, Djimon Hounsou, realized in 2014, a movie about “King Béhanzin“, a Beninese and African history famous figure (1845-1906). Djimon Hounsou belongs to the list of these African actors who emerged in Hollywood. He was born on 24th April 1964 in Cotonou. And he is known all over the world thanks to his roles mainly in Gladiator, Amistad, Blood Diamond, The Island or Never Back Down.

Djimon Hounsou spent his adolescence in France. He arrived in Lyon at the age of 13 where he lived with his brothers. Very soon, he noticed that he was not born for studies. With his physical appearance, he launched himself in modeling. In May 1987, he tried to emerge in Paris. He lived hard times because he even slept in the street, and as matter of fact, it was exactly while washing himself in the fountain in front of the Beaubourg Center that he was spotted by a close relation of Thierry Mugler. He became a photographer for the famous fashion designer and he appeared in videos realized by David Fincher: Roll With It, Express Yourself and Straight Up. He also posed for the picture book by Herbert Ritts Men and Women and participated in Janet Jackson’s video, Love Will Never Do Without You.

After Paris, he left for Los Angeles in 1990 with the hope of becoming an actor. He was always lucky and very quickly, he obtained his leading part in Without You I’m Nothing. The only problem was that he very badly spoke English. He fast filled this gap. Two years later, he bounced in Jonathan Kaplan’s thriller, “Fatal Attraction”. Steven Spielberg spotted him and offered him the role of Cinque in Amistad. For this leading part, he will be nominated for Golden Globes in the category the Best actor.

Quickly, he obtained fighter’s roles. He played with Russell Crowe, in Gladiator (2000), and then continued with big roles in The Coal nut (2002) and Biker boyz (2003). He was a tribal leader in Lara Croft Tomb Raider the cradle of life.

But Djimon Hounsou has more than one string to his bow: Jim Sheridan gave him the role of a mysterious painter in In America (2004). He continued with great movies with Michael Bay in The Island (2005). He also played in 2006 in Blood Diamond, a committed movie by Edward Zwick with Leonardo DiCaprio. He liked saying: “I am the first African nominated for Oscars, thus I hope that will help me to make wonderful stories. I now have a production house, Belly Serpent Productions, that is developing projects and I am ready to invest a lot in Africa”.

He is living with Kimora Lee Simmons, who divorced in 2008 of her first marriage with the Hip-hop tycoon, Russell Simmons with whom, she got two girls Ming Lee (8 years old) and Aoki Lee (6 years old).

Filmography:
1994 : Stargate, by Roland Emmerich (Horus)
Fatal Attraction, by Jonathan Kaplan
1997 : Amistad, by Steven Spielberg (Sinké)
1999 : Gladiator, by Ridley Scott (Juba)
1998 : Deep Rising, by Stephen Sommers (Vivo)
2001 : Le Boulet, by Alain Berbérian (inspector Youssouf)
2001 : Frères du désert, of Shekhar Kapur (Abou Fatma)
2002 : La Porte du non retour, by Jean Odoutan (Nuhuru)
2002 : Lara Croft Tomb Raider the cradle of life, by Jan de Bont (Kosa)
2002 : Blueberry, by Jan Kounen (Woodhead)
2003 : Biker boyz, by Reggie Rock Bythewood (Motherland)
2003 : In America, by Jim Sheridan (Mateo)
2004 : Constantine, by Francis Lawrence (Papa Midnite)
2005 : The Island, by Michael Bay (Laurent)
2005 : Beauty Shop, by Bille Woodruff (Joe)
2006 : Eragon, by Stefen Fangmeier (Ajihad)
2006 : Blood Diamond, by Edward Zwick (Solomon Vandy)
2008 : Never Back Down, by Jeff Wadlow (Jean Roqua)
2009 : Push, by Paul McGuigan (Agent Henry Carver)
2010 : The Tempest, by Julie Taymor (Caliban)
2011 : Bangkok Revenge, by Prachya Pinkaew
2011 : Special Forces, by Stéphane Rybojad (Kovax))
2013 : The Seventh Son, by Sergueï Bodrov : Radu
2014 : The Vatican Tapes by Mark Neveldine
2014 : Fast and Furious 7, by James Wan (unknown)

Television:
1990 : Beverly Hills – 1 episode
1998 : Urgences – Saison 5, in episodes : 13, 14, 15, 17, 18, 19 (Mobalage Ekabo)
2003 : Alias – Saison 3, in episodes : 5, 17, 18 (Kazari Bomani)

Rewards:
Best second role at Oscars 2007
Best second role at Black Reel Awards 2007
Best second role at BFCA Award 2007
Best second role at Image Award 2007
Best second role at Screen Actors Guild Awards 2007

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