Djimon Hounsou

Model-turned-actor Djimon Hounsou was seemingly plucked from obscurity by producer Debbie Allen and director Steven Spielberg in 1997 to portray Joseph Cinque, the leader of a slave ship mutiny, in "Amistad." His critically acclaimed performance led to supporting roles alongside Hollywood A-listers in historic dramas like "Gladiator" (2000) and the African-set adventure "Blood Diamond" (2006), which earned the actor significant awards and nominations. Unsurprisingly, Hounsou's towering frame and expressive features were tapped for a number of forgettable good vs. evil actioners, but he made the strongest mark in character-driven dramas like "In America" (2002) and Julie Taymor's "The Tempest" (2009), where he revealed the uncommon sensitivity and emotional range behind the powerful, commanding presence.