Djimon Hounsou Biography |
  • Djimon Hounsou Biography

    Born: April 24, 1964 in , Cotonou, Benin

    Two-time Academy Award®-nominated DJIMON HOUNSOU (Radu) most recently appeared in two of 2014’s biggest hits:  Guardians of the Galaxy and How to Train Your Dragon 2. 

    In 2015, Hounsou will co-star in the sci-fi thriller Air, with Norman Reedus, Furious 7 and Mark Neveldine’s thriller The Vatican Tapes.  Additionally, he will play Chief Mbonga in Warner Bros. Pictures’ Tarzan, currently set for release on July 1, 2016. 

    Hounsou is in production on Same Kind of Different as Me, with Greg Kinnear, Jon Voight and Renée Zellweger for Paramount Pictures and director Michael Carney. 

    Born in Benin, West Africa, Hounsou moved to Paris at the age of 13 to pursue a Western education.  As an adult, he was discovered by fashion designer Thierry Mugler and subsequently modeled for and appeared in several iconic music videos for legendary photographer Herb Ritts and director David Fincher.  Small film roles followed before Hounsou’s breakthrough performance as Cinque, the African who leads an uprising to regain his freedom, in Steven Spielberg’s Amistad (1997).  Hounsou earned a Golden Globe Award nomination and an NAACP Image Award for the part.  He later shared a Screen Actors Guild (SAG) Award nomination as a member of the cast of Ridley Scott’s Academy Award® Best Picture winner Gladiator.

    In 2006, Hounsou received an NAACP Image Award, a National Board of Review Award, an Academy Award® nomination and a SAG Award nomination for his role as a forced laborer who discovers a rare gem in Blood Diamond, which starred Leonardo DiCaprio.  For his performance as an artist afflicted with AIDS in In America (2004), Hounsou garnered an Academy Award® nomination and a Film Independent Spirit Award, shared an ensemble SAG Award nomination and was named the ShoWest Supporting Actor of the Year.

    In 2010, Hounsou starred opposite Helen Mirren, Russell Brand, Alfred Molina and Chris Cooper in Julie Taymor’s screen adaptation of “The Tempest.”  His film credits include Michael Bay’s The Island, with Ewan McGregor and Scarlett Johansson; Eragon; Constantine; with Keanu Reeves; Jan de Bont’s Lara Croft Tomb Raider: The Cradle of Life, with Angelina Jolie; and Shekhar Kapur’s The Four Feathers, with Heath Ledger and Kate Hudson.

    For television, Hounsou voiced the title role in BET’s animated series Black Panther, based on the Marvel comic of the same name.  He had a memorable six-episode arc as an African refugee seeking asylum on the drama series ER and played a recurring role on the series Alias, which starred Jennifer Garner.

    As a celebrity global ambassador for Oxfam International, Hounsou advocates for the poor, aid to Africa, farmers affected by unfair international trade rules and other social justice issues.  In 2009, he opened the General Assembly of the UN in New York with a compelling speech about the impact of climate change on developing nations.  Hounsou also appeared before the U.S. Senate to advocate for the Runaway and Homeless Youth Act, and participated in a hearing and summit for the international Arms Trade Treaty.

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