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As a dynamic performer with incredible screen presence, actor Anthony Anderson made his career easily oscillating between comedies and dramas on both television and in feature films. Though he started out providing comic relief in a number of films early in his career, including "Life" (1999) and "Big Momma's House" (2000), Anderson quickly made his presence known as a powerful dramatic force with guest starring roles on gritty cop dramas like "NYPD Blue" (ABC, 1993-2005). After earning laughs as a bungling burglar in "Barbershop" (2002) and in his own short-lived sitcom, "All About the Andersons" (The WB, 2003-04), he had a career-defining role as the powerful and much-feared drug kingpin, Antwon Mitchell, on "The Shield" (FX, 2002-08). Giving perhaps his best performance to date, Anderson flung open the doors to a wider variety of roles that helped redirect a career that seemed destined for him to play second banana in cheap comedies. By the time he joined the cast as a homicide detective on "Law & Order" (NBC, 1990- ), Anderson had more than proved himself as a capable dramatic performer.Born on Aug. 15, 1970 in Los Angeles, CA, Anderson was raised by his mother, Dora, a telephone operator and...
As a dynamic performer with incredible screen presence, actor Anthony Anderson made his career easily oscillating between comedies and dramas on both television and in feature films. Though he started out providing comic relief in a number of films early in his career, including "Life" (1999) and "Big Momma's House" (2000), Anderson quickly made his presence known as a powerful dramatic force with guest starring roles on gritty cop dramas like "NYPD Blue" (ABC, 1993-2005). After earning laughs as a bungling burglar in "Barbershop" (2002) and in his own short-lived sitcom, "All About the Andersons" (The WB, 2003-04), he had a career-defining role as the powerful and much-feared drug kingpin, Antwon Mitchell, on "The Shield" (FX, 2002-08). Giving perhaps his best performance to date, Anderson flung open the doors to a wider variety of roles that helped redirect a career that seemed destined for him to play second banana in cheap comedies. By the time he joined the cast as a homicide detective on "Law & Order" (NBC, 1990- ), Anderson had more than proved himself as a capable dramatic performer.
Born on Aug. 15, 1970 in Los Angeles, CA, Anderson was raised by his mother, Dora, a telephone operator and sometime actress, and his stepfather, Sterling Bowman, owner of a clothing chain store. At five years old, he landed his first professional job by appearing in a television commercial. Following his attendance at the Los Angeles County High School for the Arts, Anderson won a talent scholarship to attend Howard University, where he earned his Bachelor's degree in theater. Returning to his native Los Angeles, he landed guest spots on the sitcom, "In the House" (NBC, 1995-98), starring LL Cool J. Following a cameo in "Alien Avengers" (1996) and a segment of the Showtime series "Roger Corman Presents," Anderson had a regular role as a hefty, but capable basketball player during the third season of the teen sitcom, "Hang Time" (1995-2001). Anderson took his first steps into more dramatic roles with a 1998 guest spot on "NYPD Blue" (ABC, 1993-2005), which he followed up with his feature film debut in "Life" (1999), a 1930s prison comedy starring Eddie Murphy and Martin Lawrence.
Having been adept at both comedy and dramatic fare, Anderson proved a versatile player and followed up his role in "Life" with a part in Barry Levinson's 1950s Baltimore-set drama, "Liberty Heights" (1999), a coming-of-age drama set during desegregation. After a guest turn on "Ally McBeal" (Fox, 1997-2002), the actor spent the next few years building his feature film resume with supporting roles in "Big Momma's House" (2000), "Romeo Must Die" (2000) and "Me, Myself and Irene" (2000); the latter of which he hilariously played Jamaal, the most vocal of Jim Carrey's overgrown triplet sons. He next played David Arquette's postal colleague and confidant in "See Spot Run" (2001), which threatened to confine him in rather inane comedies for his career duration. But that year saw Anderson in two breakout roles; first being the action thriller "Exit Wounds" (2001), followed by the funeral-set dramedy "Kingdom Come" (2001). Reuniting with "Romeo Must Die" director Andrzej Bartkowiak and co-star DMX in the former, Anderson brought much-needed comic relief to the casualty-heavy Steven Seagal police drama by working with Tom Arnold to make a genuinely and unexpectedly funny comedy pair. In "Kingdom Come," Anderson won raves as the worthless womanizing husband of a demanding woman (Jada Pinkett Smith), though the film itself left something to be desired.
With his feature career on the rise, Anderson spewed advice to his romantically-challenged buddy (Morris Chestnut) in "Two Can Play That Game" (2001) before joining an all-star cast for the ensemble hit "Barbershop" (2002), in which he played a bumbling thief trying to crack open an ATM across the street from a family-owned barbershop in Chicago. Next, he starred alongside Jerry O'Connell as a New Yorker on the lam in the Australian Outback comedy "Kangaroo Jack" (2002), then reunited with "Exit Wounds" co-star DMX for the action feature "Cradle 2 the Grave" (2003). Returning to comedy, he had supporting turns in Jamie Kennedy's "Malibu's Most Wanted" (2003) and the horror-spoof sequel "Scary Movie 3" (2003) before returning to the small screen when he co-created and starred in the short-lived sitcom, "All About the Andersons" (The WB, 2003-04). Inspired by his own experiences as an actor living in a multigenerational household, Anderson played a struggling actor who moves in with his parents to provide a stable environment for his young son.
At this time, Anderson was slapped with some surprising bad press when he and Warner Bros. were named in a lawsuit filed by a woman claiming sexual assault on the set of "All About the Andersons." The charges came just months after he was publicly accused of raping an extra on the set of "Hustle & Flow" (2005), though in October 2004 a judge dismissed the case on the grounds that the accuser's claims were "suspicious." Meanwhile, as his sitcom came and went, Anderson continued his feature career by appearing alongside Eddie Griffin and Michael Imperioli in the underwhelming relationship comedy, "My Baby's Daddy" (2004). Following a co-starring role in the family-friendly sequel "Agent Cody Banks 2: Destination London" (2004), Anderson redefined his career when he joined the 2005 season of the gritty crime drama "The Shield" (FX, 2002-08), playing the powerful and menacing former drug lord-turned-ex-con Antwon Mitchell. Delivering his most compelling and complex performance to date, Anderson's Mitchell butted heads with corrupt cop Vic Mackey (Michael Chiklis) while he forges a working relationship with Mackey's wayward underling, Shane Vendrell (Walton Goggins), which leads to inevitable disaster. Though he wound up in prison at the end of the season, Mitchell made occasional appearances for the remainder of the series.
Back in features, Anderson appeared in "King's Ransom" (2005) as a millionaire businessman who devises a plot to kidnap himself in order to avoid a messy and expensive divorce from his wife (Kellita Smith). The plan goes awry, however, when he discovers that he's not the only one who wants to kidnap him. Far better was his measured turn in the acclaimed indie drama "Hustle & Flow" (2005) as Key, the aspiring but frustrated rap producer who hopes a surprisingly talented pimp (Terrence Howard) will at last provide his ticket to success. After appearing on a couple of episodes of the cable comedy "Campus Ladies" (Oxygen Media, 2005-07), Anderson showed up as a gay cowboy in a parody of Ang Lee's "Brokeback Mountain" (2005); one of many Hollywood movies that received the David Zucker treatment in "Scary Movie 4" (2006). Also that year, he voiced Koolomassai in the underwhelming animated adventure, "Arthur and the Invisibles" (2006).
Elevating himself with quality material once again, Anderson joined an all-star cast that included Matt Damon, Leonardo DiCaprio, Mark Wahlberg and Jack Nicholson in "The Departed" (2006), Martin Scorsese's slick crime thriller that was loosely based on the excellent Hong Kong action thriller, "Infernal Affairs" (2002). "The Departed" centered on a South Boston cop (DiCaprio) deep undercover inside a crime syndicate ran by Franck Costello (Nicholson), a ruthless, but charismatic mob boss who has one of his own gangsters (Matt Damon) inside the police department. As the police struggle to bring down Costello's operations, the mob boss manages to stay one step ahead while trying to flush out the mole that he learns has infiltrated his crew. Anderson played one of several detectives in the Massachusetts State Police trying to take down Costello. Meanwhile, he returned to television with a starring role in "K-Ville" (Fox, 2007), a short-lived cop drama set in post-Katrina New Orleans that was left off the networks schedule after the onslaught that followed the Writer's Guild of America strike in 2007-08. While he continued to appear in feature films, including the blockbuster hit "Transformers" (2007), Anderson seemed content to stick with television. In 2008, he joined the cast of "Law & Order" (NBC, 1990- ), on which he played Detective Kevin Bernard, who transferred to homicide following an unwanted two-year stint in internal affairs.
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"Hollywood seems to think you can only have one black person in each movie. I tend to think that when you have more than one black face in a movie, it all of a sudden becomes a 'black movie' as opposed to being just a movie with minorities in it." --Anderson to Cinefantastique, October 2000.
Anderson on the short shrift his character got in edits for "Urban Legends: Final Cut": "There were a lot of parts cut from the movie. I can't really take it personally. There were a lot more jokes between Stan [his character] and Dirk [Michael Bacall] throughout this movie. Not that I count my lines or anything, but you're hired to do a job, and you come all this way, and find out that after rewrites, you've got six lines. It's a job. It happens. We understand that this is a job. This is what we came here to do. So complaining really isn't going to do any good. I come to work and I have fun. I'm living my dream. I don't know too many people who can say that." --to Cinefantastique, October 2000.
Anderson on his work in the Andrzej Bartkowiak films "Romeo Must Die" and "Exit Wounds": "I've gotten my butt kicked by the best. Jet Li beat the best, but Steven Seagal can still kick a good butt. It's a different kind of kicking though." --from "Exit Wounds" press notes, 2001.
"I do what I do because I like to dispel the myths of a big man not being svelte, not being quick or light on his feet. I just want to dispel all myths and stereotypes that are normally associated with a large-sized man. I do the splits, I do my own stunts, I do my own falls as much as I possibly can."-Anderson January 21, 2003
August 3, 2004, Anderson was charged with aggravated rape for the alleged assault on a 25-year-old extra, while co-starring in a movie called "Hustle & Flow," being filmed in Memphis. Also charged is the movie's assistant director, Wayne Witherspoon; charges thrown out by a Judge, who called the accusations "suspicious"
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