Ushering in his best year yet
After many years in the performing biz, Usher (Usher Raymond IV) is having his best season yet. He’s just gotten his very own star on Hollywood’s Walk of Fame, has come out with a new album—and, best of all, he’s knocked the socks off film fans’ feet by believably and dynamically portaying Sugar Ray Leonard in the feisty sports drama, “Hands of Stone.”
Usher’s new album may have disappointed some reviewers with its generally sluggish songs, but his film outing has garnered a number of positive and even encouraging encomiums: “Usher tranforms himself from pretty boy singer and comes up with some sweet moves in the ring,” observes a reviewer. More acting stints are obviously in the offing for “Usher Raymond IV” (his screen name).
On the personal front, Usher is similarly glowing with good, happy vibes, because he’s reportedly gotten married to longtime squeeze, Grace Miguel.
They reportedly wed in a secret ceremony before flying to Havana, Cuba for their honeymoon. Grace just happens to also be Usher’s manager and business partner, so the “merger” is both personally and professionally suspicious.
Back to “Hands of Stone”: Usher plays Leonard, the undefeated middleweight boxing champion of the world, whose supremacy is challenged by an ambitious upstart, Roberto Duran, in a smashing slugfest in 1980 that’s acquired “iconic” status through the years.
Lack of experience
Usher’s casting “shocked” some people due to his lack of thespic experience. To compensate, he spent months pushing himself to believable “championship” fight level, and he succeeded in his exceedingly arduous task.
In fact, some film buffs cite his feisty protrayal as a worthy follow-up to Will Smith’s own “unexpected” screen depiction of the young Muhammad Ali in “Ali” (2001).
Even more encouragingly, some observers have even raised the possibility of Usher’s screen performance getting nominated for best supporting actor in the Oscars.
Now that may sound like far-out jive talk to some, but it certainly won’t be the first time that a singing star gets cited for exceptional acting:
Jennifer Hudson didn’t just get nominated, but even won a supporting Oscar for her standout portrayal in “Dreamgirls.”
How did Usher unexpectedly cop the plum and potentially career-changing role? It turned out that the makers of “Hands of Stone” had a really hard time casting the Sugar Ray Leonard role, due to its confounding mix of “requirements.”
Happily, they finally consulted Freddie Roach, Wild Card Boxing’s owner and Manny Pacquiao’s mentor, who advised them to look for a non-actor who had “the right moves.”
He suggested Usher, who’s a great dancer and moves “like Leonard.”
It turned out to be an inspired suggestion because the singer-turned-actor and fighter convinced Leonard himself. And, he worked out three times a day to lose 30 lbs. Daring ambition, determination and really hard work do pay off—big time!
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