The last year has been a breakout year for Djimon Hounsou. The native born African actor got nominated for his second Oscar alongside Leonardo Dicaprio in the action thriller Blood Diamond. The actor also finally come out as the boyfriend of fashion queen Kimora Lee Simmons. Speaking of fashion, he is now one of the new faces with Calvin Klein. The possibilities are endless for a man who is fortunate to be in the position where he is right now.
Listen to the Djimon Hounsou CYInterview:
(Backup Player: Including IE)
Chris Yandek: Do you feel fortunate to be where you are right now?
Djimon Hounsou: “Oh absolutely. How can you not be? How can you not be thankful of the journey and no matter how hard it was. Let’s not forget that, a lot of people in this industry desperately want to be where I am today.”
CY: African native actors like yourself and Charlize Theron have not been nominated that often for an Oscar. What does it mean to you personally to be nominated not just once but twice?
DH: “It’s absolutely an amazing accolade anytime you get recognized for the work no matter how hard it is or the attributes. It’s definitely a blessing. Obviously being African, doing this business, and some of the projects I’ve been involved in highlighted the ability to work. It’s definitely a great project and suddenly being nominated for them also shows an affinity that the industry have over that part of the world and those subjects.”
CY: Sean Faris who I got to speak to a few weeks said it was the greatest filming experience of his life to work with you. What was it like working with Sean?
DH: “It was beautiful. He is obviously a young man who came into being introduced to a sport that obviously the sport of Mixed Martial Arts is a very difficult thing to learn in such a short time and emulate great fighters. Some of the great fighters we met along the way have trained and been ready for this film. He did a great job, certainly for somebody who knew nothing about martial arts.”
CY: What’s interesting about the role you play is that you have a kung fu and boxing background when you trained back in France. Tell me about how that experience affected the training for the role that you played.
DH: “Well, in a sense that became handy when obviously having to learn how to kick properly. You gotta protect yourself while kicking – to learn how to throw a punch in a proper form. All that became handy.”
CY: I read that doing this role was important to you because you talked about the youth of today and some kids are completely lost. Why do you feel things such as MMA help out troubled kids?
DH: “I think any sport helps out troubled kids in a sense that they have so much energy and also lost in terms of who they are. They’re trying to define themselves in society. Trying to have to deal with the issues that they’re growing up or maybe the lack of parenthood in the life. There are a lot of issues young women and men are coming up with. Certainly having to deal with society and exposed to an active life in society it’s pretty challenging. I think they need to have something to fall back on. Any sports teacher teaches discipline. Most specifically martial arts teaches certain discipline. These sports you must really use your head a lot to overcome your opponent, also that spiritual aspect that you develop as a result of practicing the sport and better understanding the sport you would come to understand the spiritual value of it.”
CY: Sean Faris said he suffered a few injuries during this movie. Did you suffer any injuries?
DH: “Of course. Everybody did. It’s pretty tough going into a sport like that and such a full contact sport and not get hurt. It’s inevitable.”
CY: Being a native of Benin, President Bush recently made a trip to your native county. Is the United States making progress in Africa do you think?
DH: “Well, they’re trying. Obviously I think we’ll probably experience and have a better – I think suddenly America will have a better leverage once we have the new coming election and Obama would certainly make a huge difference in that sense.”
CY: So the upcoming 2008 Presidential election mean anything to you personally?
DH: “Oh absolutely. It means something to everybody to the rest of the world knowing this country set an example to the rest of the world. Having such a more advanced view on the world today would definitely advance the country and the rest of the countries around.”
CY: You and Kimora Lee Simmons have been very private about your relationship and only admitted recently you were a couple. What do you think the reason was that you guys were so private?
DH: “If anything it’s a private matter. A relationship is really between two people. Really to have a good relationship you must exclude everybody off to have a clear understanding of what the relationship is about and who you are and each and everybody is for the relationship. It is vital. I am not having a relationship with the media.”
CY: Yeah. (Laughs)
DH: “I am having it with my lady. I do need to have time to appreciate my lady than the media interfering.”
CY: Would you consider yourself and Kimora private people?
CY: Does she say Djimon you have total fabulosity when it comes to the fashion and the stuff that you wear?
DH: “At the end of the day I sort of was dressing the same way before I met her. Not much has changed about me.”
CY: Finally, you’ve had the chance to work with many famous people including Madonna, Janet Jackson, Paula Abdul, Steven Spielberg, and Queen Latifah. Is there anyone you’d really love to do a project with?
DH: “Oh there are a lot of great actors I’d love to still get a chance to work with. Daniel Day-Lewis just won an Academy Award for his work in There Will Be Blood. He’s a force to be reckoned with. There are so many great actors, directors that I have yet to work with.”
Djimon Hounsou stars alongside Sean Faris in Never Back Down out in theaters this Friday March 14th.
You can find more information at www.neverbackdownmovie.com.