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About The Characters
The film's cast is rounded out with a collection of veteran actors and rising stars including Terrence Howard, Joy Bryant, Bill Duke, Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje, Omar Benson Miller, Tory Kettles, Viola Davis, Marc John Jefferies, and Ashley Walters. All admit the project was intense, but, says Sheridan, "it was about trying to create an environment of trust, a family environment.”

Joy Bryant plays Charlene, Marcus's childhood friend who returns to the city after being exiled by her parents to the suburbs.

"Even though Charlene's not a party girl, the fact that she comes from the ‘hood means she's fully aware of what goes on. But she's not judgmental; to her, the situation is what it is,” says Bryant.

"Charlene and Marcus share a bond,” she says. "They were connected when they were young by a love for hip-hop — when they reconnect 10 years later, sparks fly.”

Bryant agrees that it was the chance to work with Sheridan that attracted her to the film. "He has this amazing ability to bring truth to what he does, and emotion without being melodramatic or false.”

"Joy's got a great class to her,” says Sheridan. "We play her in the movie as a dancer. She has a classy, Audrey-Hepburn flair, but the fact is, she's as hood as anybody.”

Terrence Howard calls Sheridan a "true genius” and jumped at the chance to work with him. Sheridan cast Howard as Bama, Marcus' friend, manager, and protector, after Sheridan saw the actor shine in last summer's critical and audience hit, "Hustle & Flow.”

Howard says that Sheridan created an atmosphere of trust on the set — so much so that Howard made commitments that he'd never made before. "I've never even taken my shirt off in a movie before,” he says. "For this movie, we were trying to do a scene with five guys in a prison shower. I said, ‘Let's just do it naked.' I took off my pants and 50 says, ‘Come on, come on, quick, call "Action” before he changes his mind!'

"Bama doesn't have any family,” says Howard of his character, "and Marcus's only family is the street. That's what they find in each other; sometimes, your soul mate isn't of the opposite sex — it's a kindred spirit.”

Like the rest of the cast, Howard was lured to the film by the chance to work with six-time Academy Award® nominee Jim Sheridan. "It's like watching Harry Houdini, a sorcerer at work,” says the actor. "Working with him is an enlightening, enchanting experience.”

"He has this exquisite talent for extracting the essence of relationships,” says Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje, who plays Marcus' drug-dealing mentor, Majestic. Best known for his role as the gangsta Simon Adebisi on HBO's "Oz,” Akinnuoye-Agbaje creates a menacing character who could be more than simply a father figure — he could be Marcus's biological father.

"Jim's an artist,” adds Akinnuoye-Agbaje, "and 50's an entrepreneur of some magnitude. And they both have this quest to win. I think that unites them and makes them a formidable force.”

Tory Kitties, Omar Benson Miller, and Ashley Walters co-star as Marcus's crew: Justice, Keryl, and Antwan, respectively. Veteran actor Bill Duke takes on the role of drug kingpin Levar and Tony Award-winning actress Viola Davis plays Marcus's Grandmother. Newcomer Serena Reeder plays Marcus' mother, Katrina.

"Young Marcus,” says Sheridan, "is stunningly played” by Marc John Jefferies.

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