Leonardo's Blood Diamond co-star Djimon Hounsou has a life story so amazing, it sounds like it came right out of a Hollywood script. He grew up in a small village in the West African country Benin, and later moved with his family to Paris when he was 13. After being discovered as a model, he went on to starring roles in Amistad and Gladiator. In 2004, he became one of the first African-born actors to earn an Oscar® nomination for his role in In America.
However, he says that Blood Diamond was a special challenge. "This happened to be the most difficult film I have ever partaken in," he says. "From the emotional content to the physicality of the film, it was just so mind-blowing."
Even the locations in Africa—mostly in South Africa and Mozambique—where they shot the film made for an emotional experience, Djimon says. "It was very difficult to, day in and day out, be living through the film. [Then], once you leave the film to see the makeup of the people...it was just difficult to not be affected."