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Terrence Howard on Pride

Published March 22, 2007 in Movie Interviews
By Fred Topel | Image property of Lionsgate.
We all know Terrence Howard is an intense actor. From transforming himself in Hustle and Flow to revving up and breaking down in Crash, he goes deep into his roles. Now it seems like he’s writing the scripts too, at least to hear him talk about his latest movie, Pride.

Terrence Howard on Pride


“We started off with 73 pages and a table reading that sucked,” said Howard. “I went up to my room and I called my agent and my manager and I said, ‘Get me out of this.’ And they said, ‘We’re exec producers. We can’t get out of it.’ And so I went down to [director] Sunu [Gonera] and I asked him. I said, ‘The only way I’m going to be able to do this is you have to keep the camera on me, keep a camera on the boys going through there, and I’m just going to talk to them honestly.’ The script was an outline. They finished writing another 40 something pages, but most of the stuff we did in there was literally just honest communication and me being Jim Ellis talking to them, and I thought it worked. I thought it was a wonderful trip in improvisation.”

Jim Ellis coached a group of rec center kids to become a competing swim team in the 1970s. He still works today, so Howard was able to meet the real deal to tell his story.

“I sat down with him and I had just come off the whole Oscar stuff and I was exhausted and tired of smiling and tired of doing all that stuff, and Jim looked at me and in one moment, he calmed my nature just by asking. He leaned forward and he was just smiling and he said ‘Why do you want to play me?’ And I didn’t have an answer and the only thing I could say was because of the question you just asked because I felt my entire mood shift. He has the ability of subtle suggestion and everyone who listens to him becomes susceptible to that and I was wondering. I wanted to know where does his power come from?”


Pride Pride


Pride Pride

Part of the power comes from being a real person, making mistakes and turning them into positive motivation for improvement. “That’s what makes him a hero. He’s able to lift off of the things that would normally hold us all back and, for the greater good, extend himself and not care about the personal loss because he thought of the mutual gain of everyone and, to this day, he still smiles. He still wants to get one of his swimmers on the Olympic team. He’s had a number of them try out on the Olympic trials. But you know he’s always looking to the future and that’s what helps us overcome our faults. We all make mistakes. Man, I make mistakes every day. He makes mistakes all the time. He’s a divorced man like a lot of us here may be divorced people. But he hasn’t allowed any of those faults to stop him. He’s got a quick temper and he could have gotten a lot further if he’d been nicer to the people inside of City Hall and all of that, but he has a determination to do things his way, which is the right way.”

Howard gets in the water too, and he had to train to be a competition-worthy swimmer. “The question is what kind of training didn’t I do. I mean, it felt like I was training to be an astronaut or something because I spent anywhere from 3,500 to 4,000 yards a day of swimming. To put that in perspective, it’s 25 yards across the pool, so you’re talking about 150 to 200 laps a day. Your shoulders are dead tired. Your spirit is tired. You hate water. You’re all wrinkled up like you’re 95 years old. It was hard and then on top of that, I still had to work with this guy named Darrell Foster who’s Will Smith’s trainer, and Darrell trained Sugar Ray Leonard so he demanded an hour of lifting and at least 45 minutes of running every day.”

Pride opens to theatres on March 23rd.

For the trailer, posters and more movie info, go to the Pride Movie Page.

Stay tuned for updates.

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Fred Topel
Sources: Image property of Lionsgate.
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