Oscar Actors: Hounsou, Djimon–Supporting Nominations, Blood Diamond, In America

Djimon Hounsou received Academy Award nominations for Best Supporting Actor for his work opposite Leonardo DiCaprio in “Blood Diamond,” directed by Ed Zwick and Jim Sheridan’s “In America,” opposite Paddy Considine and Samantha Morton.

For his role as Solomon Vandy, a fisherman caught up in Sierra Leone’s civil war and the conflict diamond trade, Hounsou also received a National Board of Review citation, a Screen Actors Guild Award nomination and the NAACP Image Award.

For his role as Mateo, the artist struggling with AIDS in “In America,” Hounsou garnered an Independent Spirit Award, was named the 2004 ShoWest Supporting Actor of the Year and shared a SAG Award nomination with the ensemble.

Born in Benin, West Africa, Hounsou moved to France at the age of 13 to pursue an education. Later, designer Thierry Mugler discovered Hounsou in Paris and introduced him to the fashion industry. As a model and dancer, Hounsou collaborated with some of the most renowned artists in the business, including director David Fincher and most notably photographer Herb Ritts and Janet Jackson on the iconic video for “Love Will Never Do Without You.”

Small film roles followed before Steven Spielberg cast Hounsou as Cinque, the African who led an uprising to regain his freedom in the historical drama “Amistad.” For his breakout performance, Hounsou received a Golden Globe nomination and a NAACP Image Award.

Hounsou’s credits also include Ridley Scott’s Oscar-winning Best Picture “Gladiator” (SAG Award nomination for the ensemble); “The Island,” directed by Michael Bay; “Constantine,” with Keanu Reeves and Shia LaBeouf; “Beauty Shop,” with Queen Latifah; Jan de Bont’s “Lara Croft Tomb Raider: The Cradle of Life,” starring Angelina Jolie; Shekhar Kapur’s “The Four Feathers,” with Heath Ledger and Kate Hudson; “Eragon”; “Never Back Down”; and Paul McGuigan’s “Push.”

Hounsou is currently in production on “Forces Speciales” a drama loosely based on the true story of a French journalist who is kidnapped by the Taliban in Afghanistan. Directed by Stephane Rybojad for Studio Canal +, the film also stars Diane Kruger. His forthcoming films also include “Elephant White,” a drama about a mercenary in Thailand that also stars Kevin Bacon. Prachya Pinkaew directs for Millennium Films.

Hounsou is also an OXFAM Ambassador and spokesperson for SOS Children’s Villages. He opened the 2009 UN Summit on Climate Change and also appeared before the U.S. Senate Hearing Committee as an advocate for the Runaway and Homeless Youth Act.