Righteous Dude: Terrence Howard

Photo: Chance Yeh/Patrick McMullan

Oscar nomination in tow, Terrence Howard has set off into the world of practically color-blind casting: He plays a frustrated NYPD detective opposite Jodie Foster in The Brave One, and a television producer who tracks down a war criminal in The Hunting Party, opposite Richard Gere. Unlike Crash and Hustle & Flow, neither film makes race much of an issue—but that doesn’t mean that these films aren’t both deeply political and personal to Howard, who spoke with Logan Hill.

Do you align yourself with any party?
No, I firmly believe in what the Bible set out: that God’s kingdom is the real kingdom. And that king is superior to all other kings on the Earth. A lot of things that flawed mankind is trying to accomplish on the Earth—I think a lot of it is in vain, because we just don’t have the capacity to rule ourselves successfully. Six thousand years of mankind’s rulership has pretty much proved that.

Both of your films are in some way about how government, whether the NYPD or the U.N., fails.
Well, The Hunting Party is just a true statement about the things that took place in Bosnia. It’s like what took place with Germany and Poland. No one stepped in immediately, and as a result, what happened? Hitler was able to grow and gain momentum with the world sitting by. In The Brave One, you just have to ask, where is the justice? She didn’t go buy a gun because she wanted to go take vengeance. She no longer felt safe anymore. And why am I drawn to these issues right now? It might be why I feel disenfranchised. I definitely feel disconnected from the people who are supposed to be in power.

In both Crash and The Hunting Party, you play TV producers, so you must have given some thought to the role of the media in all this.
Well, even though we don’t have an office called “Minister of Propaganda” here in the United States, for some reason, I think we have one. A lot of the main issues are never being really expressed. We’ve lost that ability to just help people to just be people.

Like when you told Elle magazine that you preferred for women to use baby wipes instead of toilet paper. That got a lot of coverage. Was anything misinterpreted there?
You know, my views and focus never change. They remain the same, about trying to find a cleaner way to live, and to be safer, you know? And maybe we should be a little more careful about social mores instead of this loose living that everybody’s gotten caught up in. We’ve lost our moral values a little bit. That’s what I was touching on. I believe as an artist, my nature is to speak. Do I think we need to readdress how we clean ourselves? Yeah. It took a long time for soap to catch on. Now everyone uses soap. So let’s be a little more clean, you guys. Let’s not be germophobic, but let’s be clean when we can.

The Brave One and The Hunting Party
September 14.

Righteous Dude: Terrence Howard