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Derek Luke

Derek Luke

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Also Known As: Died:
Born: April 24, 1974 Cause of Death:
Birth Place: Jersey City, New Jersey, USA Profession: actor

Biography CLOSE THE FULL BIOGRAPHY

A long-time aspiring actor who grabbed the public's attention with a stellar performance in the acclaimed "Antwone Fisher" (2002), Derek Luke emerged from years of obscurity to become an accomplished and respected performer. Not one to choose style over substance after his initial success, Luke has largely eschewed typical Hollywood fare to concentrate on meatier roles in smaller, but significant films that elevated the young actor's critical esteem. The cost, however, has been the spotlight-despite the recognition from "Antwone Fisher," Luke was yet a household name. But the comfortable anonymity suited the young actor just fine, even as he stood out as the star performer in roles both large and small, establishing what many believed would be a long and productive career.Born on April 24, 1974 and reared in Jersey City, N.J., where his father, Maurice, a native of Guyana and former actor in London, settled and married pianist Marjorie Dixon. The couple divorced when Luke was in the third grade, leaving his mom to raise three boys-including eldest Maurice Jr. and youngest Daniel-on her own. She struggled to make ends meet and frequently moved the family from one tough neighborhood to another-at...

A long-time aspiring actor who grabbed the public's attention with a stellar performance in the acclaimed "Antwone Fisher" (2002), Derek Luke emerged from years of obscurity to become an accomplished and respected performer. Not one to choose style over substance after his initial success, Luke has largely eschewed typical Hollywood fare to concentrate on meatier roles in smaller, but significant films that elevated the young actor's critical esteem. The cost, however, has been the spotlight-despite the recognition from "Antwone Fisher," Luke was yet a household name. But the comfortable anonymity suited the young actor just fine, even as he stood out as the star performer in roles both large and small, establishing what many believed would be a long and productive career.

Born on April 24, 1974 and reared in Jersey City, N.J., where his father, Maurice, a native of Guyana and former actor in London, settled and married pianist Marjorie Dixon. The couple divorced when Luke was in the third grade, leaving his mom to raise three boys-including eldest Maurice Jr. and youngest Daniel-on her own. She struggled to make ends meet and frequently moved the family from one tough neighborhood to another-at last count, Luke attended six different schools before graduating high school in Linden, N.J. in 1992. Because of his rough-and-tumble environment, Luke learned how to fight. He also learned how to act tough-a key ingredient to avoiding entanglements. After high school, he studied acting at Jersey State College for a semester, became antsy and moved to Los Angeles to start his career in earnest.

Luke did what he could to make a buck-selling cologne out the back of his car or ushering at the studios-struggling like most aspiring actors are wont to do. Though he managed to score a few walk-on roles in episodes of "M sha" (UPN, 1995-2001) and "The King of Queens" (CBS, 1998- ), nothing seemed to transpire for the actor. His fortunes changed for the best, however, when he was working behind the counter at a Paramount Studios gift shop. Luke was invited to lunch by a friend who knew Antwone Fisher and learned that the former sailor had a script based on his life set up with first-time director Denzel Washington. The actor became friends with Fisher and managed to finagle an audition for the lead. It was a disaster. Mustering a little gumption, Luke asked for a second audition and got one. He would have to audition three more times before he landed the part. Washington broke the news personally by coming to the gift shop where a grateful Luke hugged and kissed the Oscar winner in a joyous outburst of thank yous.

"Antwone Fisher" told the tale of a volatile and emotionally-closed young sailor who gets into trouble for fighting and is ordered to see a Naval psychiatrist (Washington). What starts as an exercise in futility soon turns to an emotional outpouring that reveals a horrific childhood rife with abuse. With the help of the psychiatrist, Fisher turns his life around and decides to confront his past head-on by searching out the family that abandoned him as a baby. Luke was recognized for his vulnerable and mature performance, earning the 2002 National Board of Review Award and the 2003 Independent Spirit Award for Best Male Actor. Luke was next cast in "Biker Boyz" (2003) starring opposite Laurence Fishburne and Kid Rock as a rookie African American motorcycle street racer hoping to dethrone the reigning champ, then played the supportive boyfriend of a young woman (Katie Holmes) cooking Thanksgiving dinner for her estranged family in "Pieces of April" (2003).

Luke next starred in Peter Berg's understated sports drama, "Friday Night Lights" (2004), playing the cocky star tailback on a small town high school team whose season-ending injury jeopardizes his chance at making it to the college level. He then gave a standout performance in another inspirational sports story, "Glory Road" (2006), the true-life telling of the 1966 Texas Western Miners who made NCAA history thanks to their charismatic coach (Josh Lucas), whose will to win with heart, determination and self-respect helped break down racial barriers. After an understated role as a young trainee assisting a Special Ops officer (Val Kilmer) in trying to find the president's kidnapped daughter in David Mamet's "Spartan" (2004), Luke gave a dynamic performance in "Catch a Fire" (2006), playing real-life South African hero Patrick Chamusso, an oil refinery worker accused by a security officer (Tim Robbins) of being a terrorist. When beaten and threatened, Chamusso admits to crimes he didn't commit, but nonetheless joins the anti-Apartheid movement upon his release from prison. Luke earned praise for his strong portrayal, positioning the actor for an Oscar run in early 2007.

VIEW THE FULL BIOGRAPHY

Filmographyclose complete filmography

CAST: (feature film)

4.
 Notorious (2009)
5.
6.
7.
 Lions for Lambs (2007)
8.
 Catch a Fire (2006)
9.
 GLORY ROAD (2006)
10.
 Spartan (2004) Curtis
VIEW THE FULL FILMOGRAPHY

Milestones close milestones

1999:
Made TV debut as an orderly on "The King of Queens" (CBS)
2001:
Appeared on an episode of "Moesha" (UPN)
2002:
Featured in a series of Gap TV commericals
2002:
Made feature debut as the title character in Denzel Washington's directorial debut "Antwone Fisher"
2003:
Co-starred in the motorcycle drama "Biker Boyz"
2003:
Cast opposite Katie Holmes in the Sundance feature, "Pieces of April"
2004:
Appeared in director David Mamet's film "Spartan," starring Val Kilmer
2004:
Directed by Peter Berg in the football themed "Friday Night Lights"
2006:
Co-starred in "Glory Road," James Gartner's film based on the first all-black college basketball teams road to the NCAA national championship
2006:
Starred in the apartheid thriller "Catch a Fire"
2007:
Portrayed a soldier stationed in Afghanistan in Robert Redford's "Lions for Lambs"
2008:
Played one of the four male leads in Spike Lee's war film, "Miracle at St. Anna"
2009:
Portrayed Biggie's manager Sean Combs in the biopic, "Notorious"
2009:
Appeared in "Tyler Perry's Madea Goes to Jail"
2009:
Cast as paramedic Cameron Boone in the short-lived NBC drama, "Trauma"
2011:
Cast as Gabe Jones, a member of the Howling Commandos, in "Captain America: The First Avenger"
VIEW ALL MILESTONES

Education

Linden High School: - 1992

Notes

"The only way I survived was having faith...and a one-way ticket from New Jersey to Los Angeles. I believe that things happen to those that believe."---Derek Luke

"Well I wen to college for one semester, and I took every subject I could, and I ended up failing. So I thought to myself, Ever since I was a kid, I've loved expression--and that's when I started thinking about acting."---Luke to Interview Magazine April 2004

Companions close complete companion listing

wife:
Sophia Adella Hernandez. Singer. Married c. 1999.

Family close complete family listing

father:
Maurice. Actor. Guyana native.
mother:
Marjorie Dixon. Pianist.
brother:
Maurice Jr.. Musician. Born c. 1972.
brother:
Daniel. Graphic artist. Born c. 1982.
VIEW COMPLETE FAMILY LISTING

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