The Best Man Holiday may have surprised industry insiders when it came in second place to Thor: The Dark World last weekend, but it wasn’t a surprise to long-time fans of the original Best Man and its dynamic cast. Among that cast, though, was a man who nearly kept me from seeing the movie, a man of whom I’m actually a fan, even though the years (and his actions) have not been kind to his off-screen persona.
Of course I’m talking about my dear Señor Baby Wipes, actor Terrence Howard.
My problem with Terrence Howard is pretty simple—I love Terrence Howard the entertainer, but have massive side-eye for Terrence Howard the man. The first film I ever saw him in was the 1996 teen basketball flick Sunset Park, and I was immediately smitten by his gentle demeanor and easygoing style. I was a goofy, boyfriend-less teen at the time, and I rapidly fell in love with his character, Spaceman. I still remember gleaming up at him beatifically from the cheap seats of Florissant, Mo.’s dollar show. By the time I saw him three years later in 1999’s The Best Man I was sure he was going to be a big star. He was so charismatic, and his character, Quentin, was easily the biggest scene-stealer in a flick that contained great actors (Nina Long, Harold Perrineau) and heartthrobs (Taye Diggs and Morris Chestnut) alike.
But that was the 1990s. There were a lot of mainstream films starring African-American actors and actresses in the '90s. And like all '90s black actors who looked like they were destined for huge careers, The Best Man cast found themselves stymied in the 21st-century world of video piracy and tentpole CGI blockbusters.
In some respects, though, Howard should have made it. In 2005 he finally got the breakout role he’d sought starring in Craig Brewer’s Hustle & Flow. And, as he’ll gladly let you know, he was the highest paid actor in the first Iron Man film back in 2008.
Yet, while Howard was snatching up roles he was also snatching up stalking and domestic violence allegations. He kept saying things publicly that sounded horribly sexist, like if a woman only uses toilet paper she’s “unclean.” There was also that time Howard seemed way too OK with the fact that Chris Brown had brutally beaten up his then-girlfriend Rihanna. Recently Howard went on Bravo’s Watch What Happens Live and tried to spin some really creative celebrity fan-fiction about that one time he turned down both Beyoncé and Padma Lakshmi. Padma, specifically, got flagged for being “too dominant.”