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Usher Confirms He's Set To Play Sugar Ray Leonard, Calls It 'Proper Casting,' Talks Oscar Potential

by Tambay A. Obenson
June 11, 2012 2:40 PM
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Well, one thing you can't say he lacks is confidence... it hasn't been officially announced as of our last post on it, but I'd say that this is as good as a confirmation as we can get.

In a profile with the UK's Independent, Usher (who's been in London, training for the part) talked in depth about his upcoming role as boxer Sugar Ray Leonard in Hands of Stone, starring opposite Robert De Niro and Gael García Bernal, in a story that will center primarily on Panamanian boxer Roberto Durán (played by Bernal).

The highlights of that profile/conversation:

On what the appeal of the part was for him...

"It was proper casting," he shrugs. "I was selected. They approached me to do it. And all I had to was consider it."

On his "proper casting" compared to the abilities of De Niro and Bernal ("proper actors"), and whether he is at all intimidated at getting in the ring with them, so to speak...

"Not at all," he says, "not at all. There's a respect for both parties. I've seen Oscar winners come out of left field."

On Oscar winners coming out of left field, and what he believes his chances are with this particular role...

"I'm just saying Jennifer Hudson," comes his reply (it's not a denial), by which he means: Hudson, an American Idol runner-up, won an Oscar for her first-ever film role, in Dreamgirls. "I'm not even saying..." he begins. "You asked me, is it OK to assume that an actor who doesn't have as much skill can't out-act an actor who is well-decorated? And what I'm saying is, if you take a moment to just analyse... No... I'm not intimidated in any way. Because there's a shared passion and respect among all of us, and it's the type of script that will allow all of us to shine."

He added further...

"I don't know if this is the one that would win me an Oscar or not. I'm going into it offering my interpretation and my hard work and my dedication to be the best Sugar Ray ever. Or as good as the man can be. I've spoken to him, and I don't know if I'll ever be able to live up to him. But I'll try to be better than him."

Like I said... call it confidence, arrogance, or... something else.

Regardless, he's in it, whether you like it or not; I recall the reactions to our first post on this were just about all negative. 

The full Independent piece HERE.

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  • Nadell | June 12, 2012 12:40 PMReply

    This really saddens me.
    Mary J Blige playing Nina Simone & Betty Shabazz, Faith Evans playing Coretta Scott King, Jennifer Hudson playing Winnie Mandela ..what's next? Should they cast Nicki Minaj as Whitney Houston??? And why not Lil Wayne playing James Brown?
    Usher, honey show some humility. This is what happens when casting directors deliberately avoid ACTORs -- you create conceited individuals!

  • Ali | June 12, 2012 1:14 PM

    Faith Evans? I saw her 5 minute performance in The Fighting Temptations and that was enough for me to know that the chick should NEVER ever ever pick up a script again unless it belongs to her son.

  • BluTopaz | June 12, 2012 12:56 PM

    " Faith Evans playing Coretta Scott King" that's a shame, I always thought Alicia Keys would be a great Mrs. King. Right after she wins an Oscar for playing Lena Horne, or course. Seriously, was there a meeting of casting directors who decided non-actors will portray all of our legends?!

  • Marie | June 12, 2012 9:13 AMReply

    I've been seeing a trend since about the time Jamie Foxx won an Oscar for playing Ray Charles (an exceptional performance but I think Don Cheadle in Hotel Rwanda was superior) that, particularly black non-actors, want to act in biopics because they've become convinced that it's the "easy" or "sure" way to an Oscar or at least a nomination. This attitude definitely escalated with Hudson's win (as evidenced by Usher's comment). When Beyonce said she runs on the treadmill with a picture of an Oscar in front of her as motivation, I knew we were in trouble. Apparently, winning a Grammy is no longer THE prize in the black entertainment world. They all want Oscars but none seem to have a genuine respect for creating a character onscreen and sustaining that characterization. As usual, I'll be boycotting this one.

  • NO BRAINER | June 13, 2012 1:29 AM

    Thank you, MARIE, for articulation my exact sentiments. Can we get married? Lol.

  • Alison | June 12, 2012 4:57 AMReply

    Usher is just too full of himself... #1 How could this dumb ass be a better Sugar Ray than Sugar Ray????? What a dweeb!!! Further, he needs to be intimadated by Deniro and Bernal because he can't fucking act!!! His last movie "In the Mix" was a huge flop and crash, horrible movie altogether, he didnt help it either. His big ego is so unbecoming. Ray Leonard looks far better at 50, than this monkey faced dick.

  • AccidentalVisitor | June 12, 2012 1:33 AMReply

    Well...where do I start? First of all he has that same cart-before-the-horse mentality that Beyonce has/had: he's talking about the possibility of winning an Oscar instead of concentrating on just wanting to do a good job. This is why I hate it when "celebs" get opportunities at acting ahead of folks who have bee n doing work in the theater. Celebs almost always do it for greater fame or more fame; for theater actors it is more about the work. Secondly he needs to gain some God damn humility. Is this why his music sucks too? (Thank God for the Weeknd and Frank Ocean). Also does he realize that if he is playing Leonard in a Duran biopic that means his role is likely to be underwritten and two dimensional. Next I don't think he looks anything like Sugar Ray. Then again Bernal looks nothing like Duran either. Duran looked like a true indigenous Panamanian or at least Mestizo. Bernal though looks like a straight up white dude. Bad casting all around IMO.

  • NO BRAINER | June 13, 2012 1:27 AM

    AAAANNNDDD... Usher CAN'T ACT. Have we all forgotten In the Mix and Light it Up? He's horrible.

  • Cordell | June 12, 2012 12:06 AMReply

    He can count on getting a BET Award nomination for Best Actor before getting an Oscar nomination lol.

  • Stars | June 11, 2012 7:48 PMReply

    See this is why I hate when Singers try the "acting thing" as if it's no sweat!!! Acting is a CRAFT !!!! that Thespians study and train in for years. I know......I'll just record an album with Grammy potential. People can come out the woodwork all the time and do it. oh wait......that's been done already. We need to respect each other's crafts and stay our own lane unless you are truly a double or triple threat.....seriously.

  • Adam Scott Thompson | June 11, 2012 7:10 PMReply

    So he's not the lead? Cool.

  • James Evans from the Cabrini-Green | June 11, 2012 4:31 PMReply

    Tambay, your headline made me giggle for a half hour. You have a very subtle wit, my brother.

  • Akimbo | June 11, 2012 3:12 PMReply

    Y'all, I'm in the studio with Will.I.Am RIGHT NOW recording a hot new track in response to this article: LOL.

  • NO BRAINER | June 11, 2012 2:44 PMReply

    Uhh... No...

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