BET Networks and Marvel Animation are pleased to announce that the iconic Marvel Super Hero THE BLACK PANTHER will be voiced by Oscar-nominated actor Djimon Hounsou. The animated series based on the legendary Super Hero is slated to premiere in 2009. The series will be adapted directly from the first six issues of the Marvel Comic written by Reginald Hudlin (issues #1 – #6, “Who Is The Black Panther”).
“BET is thrilled to have Djimon Hounsou join us as the voice of THE BLACK PANTHER,” said Denys Cowan, Senior Vice President, Animation for BET Networks. “He is a talented, compelling actor who will be the perfect voice for such an important Super Hero in the Marvel universe and such a moment in this historic environment.”
“Having Djimon Hounsou voice the lead character in this new series speaks to the power of the character and the partnership between BET and Marvel Animation,” adds Eric Rollman, President of Marvel Animation. “The Black Panther animated series is Marvel’s entree into prime-time animation and Djimon raises the bar for all involved as we bring the best in the animation business together to execute on that vision.”
“It’s a blessing for African Americans and minorities to have a Super Hero they can identify with,” said Hounsou. “While the Black Panther is a powerful force for good, he is also a respected world leader who takes pride in his African heritage. He embodies the past and future of his culture, demonstrating the endless possibilities of an Africa that is truly free.”
Djimon Hounsou is a two-time Academy Award-nominated actor for his work in In America and Blood Diamond. Hounsou was also honored with the NAACP Image Award, National Board of Review Award, and Screen Actors Guild Award nomination for his role as Soloman Vandy in Blood Diamond. For his role as Mateo in In America, he won an Independent Spirit Award, was named the 2004 ShoWest Supporting Actor of the Year, and shared in the Screen Actors Guild Award nomination for Outstanding Cast Performance.
In 2007, Hounsou appeared in Calvin Klein Steel’s underwear advertising campaign. He was proud to be the first African American male model for this iconic brand’s 25th anniversary.
Hounsou will next be seen in Push, a futuristic “Blade-Runner”-esque thriller that co-stars Dakota Fanning and Chris Evans as a group of Americans with telekinetic abilities. Summit Entertainment will release the film on February 6, 2009. Hounsou has also signed on to Julie Taymor’s adaptation of Shakespeare’s The Tempest. The film mixes romance with fraternal politics and the supernatural and centers on an exiled duke-turned-sorcerer and a group of shipwrecked enemies on a magical island. Hounsou will co-star with Helen Mirren, Jeremy Irons, Russell Brand, among others. The film is currently in production.
Hounsou’s breakthrough role came in 1997 as Cinique, the African who leads an uprising to regain his freedom, in Steven Spielberg’s historical drama Amistad. The performance earned him a Golden Globe Award nomination and Image Award.
He later shared in a SAG Award nomination as a part of the cast of Ridley Scott’s Oscar-winning Best Picture Gladiator. Hounsou has starred in Summit Entertainment’s Never Back Down with Sean Farris; in Michael Bay’s futuristic action film The Island, with Ewan McGregor and Scarlett Johansson; the thriller Constantine, with Keanu Reeves; and he was part of the ensemble cast in the comedy Beauty Shop, with Queen Latifah. Additional film credits include Jan de Bont’s Lara Croft Tomb Raider: The Cradle of Life, starring Angelina Jolie; Shekhar Kapur’s The Four Feathers, with Heath Ledger and Kate Hudson; and Deep Rising. On television, Hounsou had a memorable six-episode arc as an African refugee seeking asylum on the drama series ER and had a recurring role on the series Alias, starring Jennifer Garner. Born in Benin, West Africa, Hounsou moved to Paris at the age of 13 to get a better education. As an adult, he was discovered by fashion designer Thierry Mugler, and then worked with legendary photographer Herb Ritts. Hounsou was subsequently spotted by director David Fincher, who cast him in several music videos. Small film roles followed before Hounsou landed his breakthrough role in 1997’s Amistad.
THE BLACK PANTHER animated series is executive produced by Reginald Hudlin (former President, Entertainment, BET Networks) and Denys Cowan, SVP Animation for BET Networks. Eric Rollman, President of Marvel Animation, and Cort Lane, Director of Animation Development, are the executives on the series for Marvel.
For up-to-the-minute and archival press information including releases and photographs, visit BET’s press-only Web site at www.bet.com/pr.
About BET Networks
BET Networks, a division of Viacom Inc. (NYSE: VIA, VIA.B), is the nation’s leading provider of quality entertainment, music, news and public affairs television programming for the African-American audience. The primary BET channel reaches more than 87 million households according to Nielsen Media Research, and can be seen in the U.S., Canada and the Caribbean. BET is the dominant African-American consumer brand with a diverse group of business extensions: BET.com, a leading internet destination for Black entertainment, music, culture, and news; BET Digital Networks — BET J, BET Gospel and BET Hip Hop, attractive alternatives for cutting-edge entertainment tastes; BET Event Productions, a full-scale event management and production company; BET Home Entertainment, a collection of BET-branded offerings for the home environment including DVDs and video-on-demand; BET Mobile, which provides ringtones, games and video content for wireless devices; and BET International, an extension of BET network programming for global distribution.
Marvel Entertainment, Inc. is one of the world’s most prominent character-based entertainment companies, built on a proven library of over 5,000 characters featured in a variety of media over seventy years. Marvel utilizes its character franchises in licensing, entertainment (via Marvel Studios and Marvel Animation) and publishing (via Marvel Comics). Marvel’s strategy is to leverage its franchises in a growing array of opportunities around the world, including feature films, consumer products, toys, video games, animated television, direct-to-DVD and online. For more information visit www.marvel.com.