Five Favorite Films

Five Favorite Films with Djimon Hounsou

The Push loves Martin Scorsese and David Lean.

by | February 5, 2009 | Comments

Djimon Hounsou
After giving critically-acclaimed performances in Oscar-nominated films like Amistad, In America, Gladiator, and Blood Diamond, Benin-born actor Djimon Hounsou finally gets to play a villain in this week’s science fiction thriller, Push. Rotten Tomatoes spoke with Hounsou about his Five Favorite Films of all time and discussed the two-time Oscar nominee’s philosophies on the nature of acting, the perils of creating a signature style, and more.

In this week’s Push, Djimon Hounsou strikes a menacing pose as Carver, the ominous head of a secret government agency working to cultivate an army of telekinetics, psychics, shape-shifters, and others endowed with unique powers. It’s a bit of a departure for Hounsou, who came to attention as the leader of a slave rebellion in the Oscar-nominated Amistad only a little over a decade ago, but achieving variety, it would seem, is Hounsou’s intent. Read on as Djimon Hounsou takes us through his favorite films — classics of their respective generations — and shares his thoughts on filmmaking, acting and creative versatility.

“I’d like to think that when a story changes, your vision changes.” — Djimon Hounsou


Raging Bull (1980, 98% Tomatometer)

Raging Bull
What a scope of a film for Martin Scorsese. To really dig into the humanity of that character, Jake La Motta. And what a portrayal by Robert De Niro! What an amazing talent. How he was able to really touch into this organic moment…it was just unbelievable.

Lawrence of Arabia (1962,
98% Tomatometer)

Lawrence of ArabiaJust the scope of the film. The journey the film takes, the journey the character takes. Doing that film today you couldn’t get your head around it — it was such a massive undertaking. It leaves so much room for imagination, to escape. I escaped with that film.

The Bridge on the River Kwai
(1957, 95% Tomatometer)

The Bridge on the River Kwai
I think it was a beautiful, well-told story. If you’re learning to know how to direct a film, it’s a great subject film to study.

The Usual Suspects (1995, 89% Tomatometer)

The Usual Suspects
Obviously it has to do with the story and how complicated it was. [Bryan Singer] was an impressive young man, to be able to draw that.

Taxi Driver (1979,
100% Tomatometer)

Taxi DriverI thought its arc of character was beautifully captured. [Martin Scorsese] has got so many dramatic views — men fed up with life, the situation, the system. These days people are more experienced [as filmmakers] but we’ve just been poorly making movies lately. We used to tell beautiful, humane stories. We used to care about characters instead of just blowing some f***ing building down.

Next: Hounsou talks about Push, as well as formenting a personal style in the movies.

Rotten Tomatoes: In Push, the government secretly trains people with a number of special powers, but the most dangerous ones are “pushers” — people who can make you believe lies are real. Are all the best actors really pushers of some sort?


Djimon Hounsou: I guess you could look at it that way. But at the end of the day, actors are “pushing” themselves, not you; that belief makes you [the audience] believe. They don’t alter your thinking; they alter their own beliefs, embodying the life condition that they’re playing. They are convincing themselves, not you.

And you, do you ever push yourself too far?


DH: [Smiling] No. I’m not an actor who takes his bulls*** home. There are limitations.


Hounsou in Push.


Your director, Paul McGuigan, was previously known for a few very striking movies, Gangster No. 1 and Lucky Number Slevin among them. Did you feel that Push would fit into Paul’s style, or do you resist the idea that filmmakers or artists can have a signature style?


DH: I don’t know if it’s such a nice thing [to be thought of as having a signature.] It’s like a painter — where one stroke of a brush can be read into. In that sense, maybe. I like to think that moving to a new project, your style should change to accommodate the story. If it’s the same, you become repetitive with your style. Paul [McGuigan] is known for his visual interpretations, but I’ve paid attention to his directorial visions. I think of Push as an entity unto itself, completely independent of all other films. I’d like to think that when a story changes, your vision changes.

When I spoke with Ed Zwick, who you worked with on Blood Diamond, he said he preferred to not be typed and to let a film speak for itself.


DH: I certainly don’t see Zwick other than his great storytelling; I don’t want to pigeonhole him by saying I see the “Zwick trait.” I don’t look at directors like that. Hopefully we don’t all.

You’ve done historical drama, action drama, and now, sci-fi action. How do you strike a balance between the projects you choose?


DH: I guess you could try to balance but at the end of the day you’re left to what’s available at the time. Some projects can be amazing, but they won’t happen until five years from now. You sort of have to surrender to the outcome of what’s present at the time, and hopefully choose one of the best and hope it creatively comes together.

Push opens in wide release February 6, 2009.
Click here for a full synopsis, photo gallery and trailers.

Want more Five Favorite Films? Check out previous installments with Ernest Borgnine, Jean Reno, Danny Boyle, and James Franco.

Tag Cloud

TBS boxoffice 71st Emmy Awards Mary Tyler Moore Hallmark GoT medical drama christmas movies south america sequel 2016 Grammys Watching Series thriller Tumblr WGN Schedule TruTV Election series breaking bad Pride Month Song of Ice and Fire Emmy Nominations NYCC elevated horror disaster psychological thriller Holiday TIFF Apple TV+ Opinion Comedy batman Comic Book supernatural renewed TV shows dramedy robots Acorn TV cartoon Netflix Women's History Month Marathons MCU Winners romantic comedy Disney+ Disney Plus true crime BBC America Sundance Peacock Countdown zero dark thirty Mary poppins New York Comic Con Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt sports Red Carpet Spectrum Originals transformers Character Guide 2017 harry potter See It Skip It Lifetime technology Superheroe 007 Esquire streaming BET quibi Shondaland Disney streaming service Paramount Network Adult Swim Pixar IFC Films Family Heroines travel Valentine's Day MTV romance TV renewals Elton John dragons Reality Cannes Anna Paquin crime Animation Video Games Sundance TV A24 jamie lee curtis Starz First Reviews Nominations The CW strong female leads Tomatazos game of thrones Thanksgiving Ghostbusters police drama blockbuster Certified Fresh Interview joker Reality Competition Rom-Com Cosplay period drama Pop Logo 21st Century Fox spain Sony Pictures Avengers YouTube Red Country OWN Mindy Kaling Toys Trophy Talk GIFs natural history children's TV versus comiccon mutant Television Academy San Diego Comic-Con toy story diversity golden globes Comics on TV slashers ABC Family award winner Calendar Marvel TNT Shudder Pet Sematary Rocky politics Marvel Television TV spy thriller TV Land LGBT APB serial killer screen actors guild social media rotten movies we love Winter TV Chilling Adventures of Sabrina talk show El Rey ITV Academy Awards Walt Disney Pictures ratings Dark Horse Comics NBC Star Trek First Look SundanceTV political drama spider-man Hallmark Christmas movies zombies ESPN dc book Binge Guide hist witnail free movies Vudu Lifetime Christmas movies Fantasy LGBTQ OneApp Masterpiece comics The Arrangement Freeform Spike Action Ovation CMT cinemax Film stand-up comedy Ellie Kemper IFC FOX Year in Review war Bravo WarnerMedia TCA Winter 2020 Black Mirror CNN Stephen King Apple TV Plus Film Festival Tarantino DC Comics BBC anthology Fox News Podcast YA Musical PaleyFest Premiere Dates 2020 television 20th Century Fox History Cartoon Network Lionsgate Trailer cancelled blaxploitation Martial Arts indie Crunchyroll Hulu sitcom Marvel Studios Superheroes theme song casting teaser RT21 space cops YouTube dceu singing competition RT History canceled TV shows DirecTV Super Bowl crossover Pirates richard e. Grant 2018 Drama VICE Spring TV what to watch latino Mystery HBO Max historical drama YouTube Premium Awards cooking The Witch Disney Channel The Purge ghosts Mary Poppins Returns canceled spanish language Amazon Prime Video Netflix Christmas movies Rocketman 24 frames Best and Worst Quiz USA doctor who crime thriller cancelled TV shows Kids & Family hispanic E! halloween 2015 anime docudrama Oscars science fiction VH1 cults Summer mockumentary Set visit Crackle ABC Nat Geo nature Chernobyl Emmys CW Seed Disney Plus FX directors werewolf DC Universe discovery Discovery Channel cancelled television X-Men sag awards Box Office unscripted Christmas Tubi adventure TCA 2017 Infographic aliens Sneak Peek reboot movies Horror screenings TCM Polls and Games psycho Warner Bros. President SXSW Syfy Endgame Music Brie Larson Food Network Disney E3 Amazon justice league Musicals Biopics National Geographic MSNBC based on movie Britbox Arrowverse Lucasfilm Captain marvel Photos Western The Walking Dead DC streaming service SDCC 2019 vampires A&E Star Wars Showtime festivals zombie revenge Comedy Central animated Awards Tour PBS Apple crime drama adaptation Sundance Now Nickelodeon biography foreign miniseries Mudbound finale facebook DGA game show Sci-Fi USA Network Creative Arts Emmys HBO cars Holidays video Extras TLC cancelled TV series Rock green book spinoff Classic Film Fall TV Columbia Pictures Baby Yoda independent AMC American Society of Cinematographers GLAAD Epix composers kids Teen Writers Guild of America TCA cats Paramount Trivia Universal CBS FXX CBS All Access binge name the review tv talk 45 Turner Classic Movies Turner comic Amazon Prime