Hounsou: Catwalks To Hollywood

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Djimon Hounsou hails from Benin, West Africa, but was homeless in Paris before being discovered by a modeling agent. After strutting across catwalks all over Europe, he tried his hand at acting, turning in impressive performances in such pictures as Amistad, Gladiator, and The Four Feathers. But it was his work as a dying AIDS victim in “In Americaâ€? which landed him an Academy Award nomination in 2003. Since then, he's appeared in Biker Boyz, Tomb Raider 2, Constantine, Beauty Shop, and now, The Island, a sci-fi spectacular directed by Michael Bay. Here, he reflects on his success and shares his thoughts about playing the bad guy for the first time.

BSN: Since I last spoke to you, you landed an Oscar nomination for In America. Congratulations!

DH: "Thank you. That was fun, and quite a nice surprise, actually, the way it all came together."

BSN: How has the nomination changed your life?

DH: "Well, it changes you. It changes your pace, your career. It's all good."

BSN: Have you seen The Island yet?

DH: "Yes. I saw it yesterday for the first time."

BSN: I'm only asking because I just interviewed Michael Clarke Duncan who still hadn't seen it yet. This is a wild sci-fi flick. What do you think inspired it?

DH: "Well, this is in direct connection and in direct relation to the way women, and I also think men, need surgery to better themselves to live longer and healthier. So, in that respect, I think people certainly have a desire to live longer, and there's a direct connection of this with the idea we see, here, of the rich and famous being able to buy an insurance policy by having themselves cloned and harvested later. That storyline interested me in the picture, plus, I wanted to work with Michael Bay for the first time."

BSN: And what was that like, being on the set of one of his spectaculars?

DH: "Oh, it was great. We'd known each other for a long time before, but hadn't had an opportunity to work together. But this was great."

BSN: How did you like playing the villain for the first time?

DH: "I enjoyed this role because it had a beautiful arc."

BSN: Yeah, we get treated to a nice, unanticipated twist towards the end. The picture has such an otherworldly feel to it. Where was it shot?

DH: "We shot some of the street scenes in L.A. and Detroit. And we shot a lot in Palm Springs, in the desert, and at various other locations, too."

BSN: Have you settled in Los Angeles?

DH: "L.A.'s been my home for a while now."

BSN: Where in the city do you live in?

DH: "Close to the beach."

BSN: When do you start work on your next picture?

DH: "I'm getting ready to shoot something with Fox in Budapest."

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