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Terrence Howard is an actor well-known for exuding an intensity so immense in films such as Hustle & Flow, Crash, Pride and Ray that he was nominated for an Academy Award as Best Actor in 2005. But, off camera, let just one word escape from his lips and it's undeniable that edgy demeanor is simply acting. It's a part of Howard that transfers right off the silver screen and through his piercing green eyes as he speaks with such passion on any given subject matter.
The most obvious topic to discuss is his roles in two upcoming films - The Hunting Party and the Brave One. The first, which is scheduled to hit Los Angeles' theaters September 7, co-stars Richard Gere and Jesse Eisenberg where three journalists decide to take the law into their own hands. Howard plays a seasoned photojournalist who embarks on an unauthorized mission with a discredited journalist (Gere) and a young journalist (Eisenberg) to find a wanted war criminal in Bosnia.
The second, due out September 14 in which Howard stars opposite Jodie Foster, is a film that chronicles New York radio host Erica Bain (Foster) prowling the streets to track down the men she holds responsible for killing the fiancé she adores and brutally attacking her. Howard plays the NYPD detective on her trail of revenge.
It's these types of roles and themes Howard revels in - ones that speak to him and in turn will speak to the social responsible people who question what can be done to bring about change.
“If it moves me, and I'm human just like everybody else, then it might move somebody else,” said the 38-year-old actor. “I think people should take responsibility for what's going on in the world right now. I think that's what we should do.”
And with that, the discussion sweeps right past surface answers and delves into the philosophical. It's where the not-so-obvious topics began to spring forth and revealed Howard's depth and character.
“I just had a revelation a couple of weeks ago,” said Howard when addressing the question of whether acting is fulfilling his life's purpose. “I was thinking our sun, our star is about a billion years old, a million times larger than all of us. It's the most beautiful thing in the celestial solar system. But if that star had the opportunity to be anything it could in creation, it would be a human being because we have the creative ability. We are the jewel of creation.
So, if I can help people recognize how truly marvelous they are, if this film business has allowed me to do that, then guess what? You are beautiful. Don't forget it and don't let anybody else tell you otherwise.”
Howard said that, like himself, everyone has potential to fulfill a purpose. “It just depends on how you behave with that,” he added. “There are some that are called towards a purpose, and they have the choice to either live up to it or not. But then there are some who are chosen to do things …and the last one that I know was chosen to do something, his name was Jesus Christ.”
To Howard, who considers himself a deeply religious person, Christ is not simply a topic to speak on, it's his life. In fact, he said his biggest accomplishment has been learning God's name. “And, my greatest accomplishment,” he added “will be getting baptized one day as a Jehovah's Witness.”
When asked what will it take to become baptized, he paused briefly enough to laugh and said, “practicing discipline.”
“I get mad and curse at times,” he explaind. “I just have to learn to live by the standards that are set out in the Bible a little more.”
Other than his religious beliefs, Howard is also very much into his children. At every given time, one of his three children is with him, which he said helps keep him grounded. And, each of them has a cell phone so they are able to talk three, four times a day.
He spoke of the conversations he has with his 12-year-old son where ate the end of each, they blow each other kisses and catch them. “I'm sad,” Howard said revealing a bit of his sensitive side, “because one day I know he'll stop doing it.”
Further reflecting on fatherhood, Howard expressed that the very best part is “looking at the young version of you and knowing that the little things that you though were character flaws are really attributes that you just didn't have time to cultivate, to nurture.”
He added, “So, you nurture that in your children…and try to help them go in a way and a direction they should.”
You can catch Terrence Howard on the silver screen next month in The Hunting Party and The Brave One, and anticipate other feature films such as August Rush this fall and Iron Man next year.