Terrence Howard says he’s aware television can be viewed as a negative career move for a movie actor. But when the TV show is Law & Order: Los Angeles, the opportunity can be too good to resist.
“The only hesitation is from yourself — the fear that someone is going to think that your brand is diminished in someway,” says Howard, who made a brief stop in Toronto to promote the new series.
“But your brand actually expands when you get to work with someone like (Law and Order creator) Dick Wolf. There’s a huge gap between so-called writing and true writing. You actually treasure a call from someone who stands for the truth.”
Howard — best known for movies like Hustle and Flow, Crash and Iron Man — says he looks forward to the rigors of making a weekly TV series.
“Instead of sitting for three, four months between films and getting stale, my (acting) chops are getting sharper on a day-to-day basis. And I’m also able to grow as a person because there’s a confidence that comes from knowing you have a job.”
In the new L&O series, Howard plays Deputy District Attorney Joe Dekker alongside Deputy DA Alfred Molina.
As for plot, it’s the same police/courtroom premise, albeit with a decidedly different class of criminals and court cases. Howard says that while the New York-based Law and Order was inspired by the headlines of the blue collar New York Post, Los Angeles L&O will use celebrity-obsessed tabloids for inspiration.
“Now you’ll be able to see the story behind every word of The Enquirer,” he says. “Instead of picking up The Star, you can watch Law and Order and see the re-enactment.”
Since his Oscar nom for Hustle and Flow in 2005, Howard’s career has been a busy one. Upcoming projects include Winnie, in which Howard plays Nelson Mandela opposite Jennifer Hudson. Still, Howard’s success has come with a downside.
“The opportunity for work is there but the greater disappointment is also there,” says Howard.
“It’s the same game. You’re still basically auditioning. You just don’t have to show up in the room.”