Biopics greenlight a young thesp’s career

Breakthrough actor of the year: Derek Luke

Playing real people has become something of a habit for Luke. His big break was starring as Antwoine Fisher in Denzel Washington’s 2002 biopic, followed by last year’s docu-style look at small-town football, “Friday Night Lights.”

“The movies I’ve done have enlisted me in political causes. After ‘Antwoine Fisher’ I was speaking at schools and churches about situations with children and how they’re being raised. ‘Friday’ got me discussing children and the politics of: What’s more important, education or sports? These roles can elect you as a commentator on politics and I’m not an authority.”

This year, Luke takes on another real-life hero: Patrick Chamusso, an apolitical factory foreman-turned-terrorist against South Africa’s apartheid system, in Philip Noyce’s “Catch a Fire.” “This was an ordinary man and it shows how strong (people) really are,” says the actor.

For Luke, his real breakthrough is yet to come. “When you say ‘star,’ it means greenlight. I would love to be able to greenlight a movie. That would be a nice achievement.”

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