Djimon Gaston Hounsou born 24 April 1964 is a Beninoise actor and model. Hounsou began his career by appearing in music videos. He made his film debut in the Sandra Bernhard film Without You I’m Nothing (1990) and gained widespread recognition for his role as Cinqué in the Steven Spielberg film Amistad (1997).
He gained more recognition for his roles in Gladiator (2000), In America (2003), and Blood Diamond (2006), receiving Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor nominations for both the latter films.
He also played an antagonist in Furious 7 (2015). He has been nominated for a Golden Globe Award and three Screen Actors Guild Awards. Djimon Hounsou played an important role as well in the French film Forces Spéciales in 2011.
Hounsou was born in Cotonou, Benin, to Albertine and Pierre Hounsou. He immigrated to Lyon in France at the age of twelve with his brother, Edmond. Soon after arriving in France, Hounsou dropped out of school and became homeless for a while. A chance meeting with a photographer led to Hounsou being introduced to fashion designer Thierry Mugler, who encouraged Hounsou to pursue a modeling career. In 1987, Hounsou became a model and established a career in Paris.
He moved to the United States in 1990.
Hounsou received wide critical acclaim and a Golden Globe Award nomination for his role as Cinqué in the 1997 Steven Spielberg film Amistad.
He gained further notice as Juba in the 2000 film Gladiator. In 2004, Hounsou was nominated for the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor for In America, making him the fourth African male to be nominated for an Oscar.
In 2005 he played a mercenary in the movie The Island alongside Ewan McGregor and Scarlett Johansson.
In 2006, he won the National Board of Review Award for Best Supporting Actor for his performance in Blood Diamond; he received Broadcast Film Critics Association, Screen Actors Guild Award, and Academy Award nominations for this performance.
Hounsou acted in a supporting role in the 2009 science fiction film Push, as Agent Henry Carver.
In 2011, he starred as a French commando in the French film Forces spéciales.
Director Tim Story told IGN that if he were to do a third Fantastic Four film, he would like to have Hounsou as the Black Panther.
In November 2008, it was announced that Hounsou would be providing the voice of the Black Panther in the television series of the same name. Hounsou had signed on to play Abdiel in the film version of John Milton’s Paradise Lost with Benjamin Walker and Bradley Cooper.
The film however was scrapped in early February 2012.
On 24 February 2007, it was announced that Hounsou would be the new Calvin Klein underwear model. At the time, Hounsou was being presented by Los Angeles modeling agent, Omar Albertto.
In July 2018, Hounsou joined the DC Extended Universe, voicing the Fisherman King Ricou in Aquaman (with the character being motion-captured by Andrew Crawford), as well as replacing Ron Cephas Jones as the Wizard Shazam in Shazam! (2019). Still in 2019, he reprised his role as Korath in the Marvel Studios film Captain Marvel.