Terrence Dashon Howard (born March 11, 1969) is an American actor, rapper, singer-songwriter, and record producer. Having his first major roles in the 1995 films Dead Presidents and Mr. Holland's Opus, Howard broke into the mainstream with a succession of television and cinema roles between 2004 and 2006. He was nominated for the Academy Award for Best Actor for his role in Hustle & Flow.
Howard has had prominent roles in many other movies, including Winnie, Ray, Lackawanna Blues, Crash, Four Brothers, Big Momma's House, Get Rich or Die Tryin', Idlewild, Biker Boyz, August Rush, The Brave One, and Prisoners. Howard played James Rhodes in Iron Man and its video game adaptation, but he was replaced by Don Cheadle for the future films. He stars as the lead character Lucious Lyon in the television series Empire. His debut album, Shine Through It, was released in September 2008. In September 2019, Howard announced that he had retired from acting as he was "tired of pretending."
Howard was born in Chicago, Illinois, on March 11, 1969, to Tyrone and Anita (née Williams) Howard, both of whom were biracial, with African and Anglo ancestry. His great-grandmother was actress Minnie Gentry. Howard was raised in Cleveland, Ohio, where he had a rocky childhood. He endured beatings from his physically abusive father, and saw his father stabbing another man in the Santa Line Slaying when Terrence was 2 years old. His father was convicted of manslaughter and served 11 months in jail. Howard's parents divorced upon his father's release. He was raised by his great-grandmother. She died shortly after Howard appeared in Iron Man as Lt. Col. James "Rhodey" Rhodes, Tony Stark/Iron Man's best friend.
Howard first entered the entertainment world when he portrayed Jackie Jackson in The Jacksons: An American Dream, an ABC miniseries. Three years later, he made his big film break in 1995's Mr. Holland's Opus. He continued being cast in television and movie roles, and co-starred as Greg Sparks in the late-1990s short-lived television series Sparks, with James L. Avery Sr. and Miguel A. Nunez Jr. Howard also appeared in The Best Man (1999), in Ashanti's music video for her 2002 single "Foolish", and in Mary J. Blige's video for "Be Without You". Howard made an appearance on the TV series Family Matters.
Howard has said that he looks for characters that "teach him about himself" when choosing his film roles. For the 2005 film Hustle & Flow, Howard portrayed an aspiring rapper. He performed all the character's tracks himself, including "It's Hard Out Here for a Pimp", which won the Academy Award for Best Original Song at the 78th Academy Awards. Howard has also worked as a film producer, as when he was credited for the 2007 film Pride. In 2008, Howard hosted the PBS series Independent Lens.
Howard was contracted to play Colonel Rhodes in the 2008 film Iron Man. Howard was signed on before any of the other major actors and was the highest paid actor in the film. He was replaced by actor Don Cheadle in the film's sequels. Entertainment Weekly reported that Howard was offered a 50 to 80 percent pay cut for Iron Man 2, though it said that it was unclear whether Howard turned down the role or whether Marvel withdrew their offer.
Howard released his debut adult alternative album, Shine Through It, in 2008 on Columbia/SME Records. He described the album as urban country, and either wrote or co-wrote all the songs on it.
In 2008, he made his Broadway debut, playing Brick in an all-African-American production of Cat on a Hot Tin Roof, directed by Debbie Allen. During rehearsals, he allegedly attacked and seriously injured musical composer Tex Allen (brother of the director). Allen said he suffered multiple injuries and in October 2008, Allen filed a $5 million lawsuit against Howard.
In 2010, Howard joined the cast of the Law & Order: Los Angeles, playing the character Deputy District Attorney Joe Dekker. He alternated shows with Alfred Molina, who portrayed Deputy District Attorney Ricardo Morales. The series was cancelled after one season. In 2011, Howard played Nelson Mandela in the film Winnie Mandela.
Since 2015, Howard has starred on the television series Empire, playing Lucious Lyon, a hip-hop mogul who discovers he is dying and must ensure the survival of his music empire. He also appeared in the television series Wayward Pines portraying Sheriff Arnold Pope, a main character in the first season in 2015 and a guest character in the second and final season.
In September 2019, Howard announced that he had retired from acting after the final season of Empire as he was "tired of pretending."
Howard lives outside Philadelphia in Lafayette Hill, Pennsylvania. He has been married four times to three women, and has five children and two grandchildren.
Howard married his first wife, Lori McCommas, in 1989. They divorced in 2003, remarried in 2005, and later divorced again. They had three children together: daughters Aubrey and Heaven, and son Hunter. Through Aubrey, Howard has two grandchildren, a granddaughter born in December 2012 and a grandson (Adrian) born in February 2015. Howard and McCommas divorce was filed in 2000 and finalized in 2003, but they remarried in 2005. They subsequently filed for divorce a year later and finalized for a second time in 2007. McCommas was born Jewish but was raising their children as Jehovah's Witnesses.
Howard married his second wife, Michelle Ghent, in 2010. Ghent filed for divorce in February 2011. Ghent filed for a restraining order in December 2011, accusing Howard of being physically abusive toward her. Their divorce was finalized in May 2013, though the agreement was overturned in 2015 after judge ruled Howard had signed it under duress of Ghent threatening to sell nude pictures of Howard and other personal information.
Howard wed his third wife, model and restaurateur Mira Pak, in late 2013. They have two sons, Qirin Love (born 2015) and Hero (born 2016). The two divorced in 2015 and then got engaged to remarry in December 2018.
Though he did not complete his engineering degree, Howard thinks of himself as an engineer and intends to return one day to complete the "three credits" of which he is currently short. Howard's account of his educational history has not been confirmed; Pratt Institute, which he says he attended, closed its engineering degree program in 1993. On February 26, 2013, Howard said on Jimmy Kimmel Live! that he had earned a Ph.D. in chemical engineering from South Carolina State University that year. He was awarded an honorary "Doctorate of Humane Letters" from SCSU after speaking at its commencement ceremony in 2012. However, he never attended the university and in fact the university is not empowered to confer doctorates in chemical engineering.
In 2010, Howard was inducted as an honorary member into Phi Beta Sigma fraternity.
In a 2015 interview with Rolling Stone, Howard explained that he had formulated his own language of logic, which he called Terryology, and which he was keeping secret until he had patented it. This logic language would be used to prove his contention that " 1=1 × 1 = 2".
Howard blames his leaving Pratt over disagreements with a professor regarding this hypothesis. He also stated that he spends many hours a day constructing models of plastic and wire that he patented and claims to confirm his belief.
In 2017, Howard published his proof of his claim that "1=1 × 1 = 2" on his Twitter account. It was heavily criticized by his followers, due to containing multiple logical errors and faulty reasoning.
Domestic violence incidents
In February 2009, it was reported on The Smoking Gun that Howard was arrested in 2001 for a variety of charges related to a violent attack on his estranged first wife, including simple assault, terrorist threats, harassment and stalking. According to police reports, he arrived at her house after an argument on the phone, forced entry into her home by breaking in doors, and chased her into the backyard where he punched her twice in the face with a closed fist. The violent attack ended when Howard's brother stepped in. In 2002, he pleaded guilty to disturbing the peace.
According to The Smoking Gun, Howard was also arrested for assaulting a Continental Airlines flight attendant after refusing her request to return to his seat because the seat belt sign was on.
On December 5, 2011, a judge granted Howard's then-wife Michelle Ghent a restraining order based on her claims that Howard had caused her physical injuries that required medical attention, once broke her computer in half, repeatedly threatened her, and stalked her by telephone and on the Internet.
In August 2013, Ghent obtained a second restraining order against him after showing up in court with a black eye she says he gave her.
In a September 2015 interview with Rolling Stone, Howard admitted to hitting his first wife in 2001 saying, "she was talking to me real strong, and I lost my mind and slapped her in front of the kids."
|1993||Who's the Man?||Customer|
|1995||Mr. Holland's Opus||Louis Russ|
|1996||Johns||Jimmy the Warlock|
|1998||The Players Club||K.C.|
|1999||Best Laid Plans||Jimmy|
|1999||The Best Man||Quentin Spivey||NAACP Image Award for Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Motion Picture|
Nominated—Black Reel Award for Best Supporting Actor
Nominated—Chicago Film Critics Association Award for Most Promising Actor
Nominated—Independent Spirit Award for Best Supporting Male
|2000||Big Momma's House||Lester Vesco|
|2000||Love Beat the Hell Outta Me||Chris|
|2000||"Muhammad Ali - King of the World"||Cassius Clay/Muhammad Ali|
|2002||Hart's War||Lt. Lincoln A. Scott|
|2003||Biker Boyz||Chu Chu|
|2004||Crash||Cameron Thayer||Black Reel Award for Best Supporting Actor|
Black Reel Award for Best Ensemble Cast
Florida Film Critics Circle Pauline Kael Breakout Award
NAACP Image Award for Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Motion Picture
National Board of Review Award for Breakthrough Performance by an Actor
Screen Actors Guild Award for Outstanding Performance by a Cast in a Motion Picture
Vancouver Film Critics Circle Award for Best Supporting Actor
Nominated—Black Movie Award for Outstanding Performance by an Actor in a Supporting Role
Nominated—Broadcast Film Critics Association Award for Best Supporting Actor
Nominated—Chicago Film Critics Association Award for Best Supporting Actor
Nominated—Gotham Independent Film Award for Best Ensemble Cast
Nominated—Washington D.C. Area Film Critics Association Award for Best Supporting Actor
|2004||Ray||Gossie McKee||Nominated—Screen Actors Guild Award for Outstanding Performance by a Cast in a Motion Picture|
|2005||Hustle & Flow||Djay||Austin Film Critics Association Award for Breakthrough Artist|
BET Award for Best Actor
Black Movie Award for Outstanding Performance by an Actor in a Leading Role
Black Reel Award for Best Actor
Broadcast Film Critics Association Award for Best Song
Satellite Award for Best Actor – Motion Picture Musical or Comedy
Washington D.C. Area Film Critics Association Award for Best Breakthrough Performance
Nominated—Academy Award for Best Actor
Nominated—Black Reel Award for Best Ensemble Cast
Nominated—Broadcast Film Critics Association Award for Best Actor
Nominated—Chicago Film Critics Association Award for Best Actor
Nominated—Golden Globe Award for Best Actor – Motion Picture Drama
Nominated—Gotham Independent Film Award for Breakthrough Actor
Nominated—NAACP Image Award for Outstanding Actor in a Motion Picture
Nominated—Independent Spirit Award for Best Male Lead
Nominated—Online Film Critics Society Award for Best Actor
Nominated—Screen Actors Guild Award for Outstanding Performance by a Cast in a Motion Picture
Nominated—Washington D.C. Area Film Critics Association Award for Best Actor
|2005||Four Brothers||Lt. Green||Nominated—Black Reel Award for Best Ensemble|
|2005||Get Rich or Die Tryin'||Bama|
|2007||Pride||Jim Ellis||Nominated—NAACP Image Award for Outstanding Actor in a Motion Picture|
|2007||The Hunting Party||Duck (journalist)|
|2007||The Brave One||Detective Mercer|
|2007||August Rush||Richard Jeffries (child counselor)|
|2007||Awake||Dr. Jack Harper|
|2007||The Perfect Holiday||Mr. Bah Humbug|
|2008||Iron Man||USAF Lt. Col. James Rhodes||Nominated—Black Reel Award for Best Supporting Actor|
|2008||Phillies World Series Champions DVD||Narrator|
|2009||The Princess and the Frog||James||Voice role|
|2011||Little Murder||Drag Hammerman|
|2011||The Ledge||Hollis Lucetti|
|2011||Winnie Mandela||Nelson Mandela|
|2012||Red Tails||Col. A.J. Bullard|
|2012||On The Road||Walter|
|2012||The Company You Keep||Cornelius|
|2013||Movie 43||Coach Jackson||Segment "Victory's Glory"|
|2013||Dead Man Down||Alphonse Hoyt|
|2013||House of Bodies||Starks|
|2013||The Best Man Holiday||Quentin Spivey|
|2014||Take Me to the River||Himself|
|2014||Sabotage||Julius "Sugar" Edmonds|
|2016||Term Life||Sheriff Braydon|
|2019||Cut Throat City||Post-production|
|1992||The Jacksons: An American Dream||Jackie Jackson|
|1995||The O. J. Simpson Story||Young A.C.|
|2000||King of the World||Cassius Clay|
|2001||Boycott||Ralph Abernathy||Black Reel Award for Best Supporting Actor|
Nominated—NAACP Image Award for Outstanding Actor in a Television Movie, Mini-Series or Dramatic Special
|2005||Their Eyes Were Watching God||Amos Hicks|
|2005||Lackawanna Blues||Bill Crosby||NAACP Image Award for Outstanding Actor in a Television Movie, Mini-Series or Dramatic Special|
Nominated—Black Reel Award for Best Supporting Actor
|1993||Tall Hopes||Chester Harris||6 episodes|
|1994||Family Matters||John||1 episode|
|1994||Living Single||Brendan King||1 episode|
|1994||Coach||Johnny Williams||1 episode|
|1994||Getting By||Herbert||1 episode|
|1994||Picket Fences||Malik||2 episodes|
|1995||New York Undercover||Buster||1 episode|
|1996–1998||Sparks||Greg Sparks||Main role|
|1998–1999||NYPD Blue||A.J. Foreman / Lonnie||2 episodes|
|2002–2003||Soul Food||Benny Jones||2 episodes|
|2003||Street Time||Lucius Mosley||13 episodes|
|2010–2011||Law & Order: LA||Senior D.D.A. Jonah "Joe" Dekker||Series regular|
|2011||Law & Order: Special Victims Unit||Senior D.D.A. Jonah "Joe" Dekker||Episode: "Reparations"|
|2012||Hawaii Five-0||Billy||Episode: "I Ka Wa Mamua"|
|2015–present||Empire||Lucious Lyon||Series regular|
Won—BET Award for Best Actor
Nominated—Teen Choice Award for Choice Drama TV Actor
Nominated—Teen Choice Award for Choice TV Villain
Nominated—Teen Choice Awards for Choice TV Chemistry
Nominated—People's Choice Awards, Favorite Dramatic TV Actor (2016)
Nominated—People's Choice Awards, Favorite Dramatic TV Actor (2017)
|2015||Lip Sync Battle||Himself||Episodes: "Terrence Howard vs. Taraji P. Henson" pts. 1 & 2|
|2015–2016||Wayward Pines||Sheriff Arnold Pope||Series regular (season 1)|
Recurring (season 2)
|2017||Philip K. Dick's Electric Dreams||George||Episode: "Real Life"|
|2008||Iron Man||USAF Lt. Col. James Rhodes|
|2005||"Be Without You"||Mary J. Blige||4:07||The Breakthrough||As Be Without You|
- Shine Through It (2008)