Terrence Howard must be a very stern, serious man. He gravitates toward abrasive films like “Crash” and “Hustle and Flow,” in which he plays characters well versed in the dark underbelly of life. His delivery is almost too raw, too honest.
Often he’s uncomfortable to watch.But in person, Howard is a buoyant storyteller. He cracks impromptu jokes and talks about his faith in a non-preachy way.
Portraying the working class hero Jim Ellis from Philly, Howard’s role in “Pride” reflects the actor’s sunnier side. But don’t worry; Howard hasn’t lost his edge. After all, he’s still hip enough to reside in Montgomery County.
The Temple News: Why did you choose to act in this film?
Terence Howard: I wanted to do something different. Most of the things I have always have been involved with have been pretty gritty, and it was nice to be part of something that was light and inspirational. And, I mean, not light in its message, but light in its effect upon people.
TTN: Was this your first movie as an executive producer?
TH: No, I executively produced three kids (laughs). But as far as in cinematic endeavors, this was my very first and I took it very seriously. We started off with a 73-page script that was in no way a reflection of this man’s life.
And having that title of executive privilege, it gave me the authority to make the necessary changes. It was just very heavy on the comedy and lacked a little of those messages that are supposed to carry you into the future. That’s what Jim is known for. So if the movie fails, then it fails on my shoulder. Because I took some privileges that I thought were necessary as a young black man trying to inspire not just young black children, but trying to inspire the entire human race.
TTN: Why do you still live in Philadelphia?
TH: I know my neighbors and my neighbors know me.
TTN: What was it like meeting Jim Ellis?
TH: He asked me, ‘Why do you want to play my life?’ And I didn’t have the heart to tell him that Lionsgate was going to pay me a whole lot of money to play his life. But there was something extremely piercing about his question. And I began to wonder. He was honest and he was real. His voice was so soft but the energy of his voice was so assertive.
I wondered: where did he get his power from? I knew then how he could motivate kids.So that became the motivation. It was a selfishly generated desire; I wanted to have his power.
Holly Otterbein can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.