Actor Graduates From Music Video To "Amistad"

December 12 [14:00 EDT] -- Unless you live in a cave, you've probably heard about Steven Spielberg's slaveship epic "Amistad" which opens on Friday, but did you know that the actor at the center of the film cut his acting chops in music videos?

Djimon Hounsou, the actor who plays the leader of a slave revolt, has been earning rave reviews for his work in "Amistad," and his face may be familiar from his appearances in videos for Paula Abdul's "Straight Up," Steve Winwood's "Roll With It," Madonna's "Express Yourself," and Janet Jackson's "Love Will Never Do Without You." [Hounsou videos, 1.3MB QuickTime]

That music video experience must have paid off, as Hounsou more than holds his own alongside Morgan Freeman, Anthony Hopkins, and Matthew McConaughey in the film. For a while it seemed that, despite his outstanding performance, Hounsou might not see himself in "Amistad."

Author Barbara Chase had tried to block the release

of the film, claiming that it plagarized her novel, which is also based on the true story of a mutiny on an 18th Century slaveship. However, on Monday a judge moved to allow the movie's release.