Terrence Howard Is the Wrong Guy to Play Nelson Mandela

I'm guessing Denzel was unavailable.

Few living 20th Century political leaders are as revered as Nelson Mandela, the South African revolutionary who led his nation out of apartheid. He has received a dizzying amount of honors (over 200), including the Nobel Peace Prize and the Presidential Medal of Freedom.

And after all that, and with his health in steady decline, the 95-year-old Mandela has the privilege of being portrayed on film by none other that Terrence Howard, an actor whose behavior is anything but honorable.

The biopic Winnie Mandela opens in theaters on Sept. 6 with Howard, who lives in suburban Philadelphia, playing opposite Grammy-winning singer and Oscar-winning actress Jennifer Hudson, who portrays the title character.

Early reviews of the film are almost universally bad, with the A.V. Club declaring: “It’s enough to make Evita look classy.” Ouch.

And the Wall Street Journal has decided to, er, weigh in with a piece reporting that the slimmed-down Hudson (you’ve seen her in all those Weight Watchers commercials) was almost too thin to play Winnie Mandela.

So people are talking about how lousy the movie is. And people are talking about Jennifer Hudson’s weight. OK, great.

But what no one is talking is the fact that co-star Terrence Howard seems to have a problem following the age-old mantra instilled in most boys at a young age: “You don’t hit women.”

In case you haven’t been paying attention, below is the actor’s troubling history with members of the opposite sex. (When I previously reached out to Howard’s attorney on two occasions, he gave me the following quote: “My client has been unjustly accused of acts that never happened.”)

1. Terrence Howard vs. the Flight Attendant

In 2000, Terrence Howard was arrested and spent the night in jail after allegedly assaulting a flight attendant. Those charges were dropped.

2. Terrence Howard vs. His First Wife

In 2001, Terrence Howard was arrested and charged with assaulting his estranged wife (who later became his ex-wife only to then marry him again, and then divorce him again) after he allegedly broke a door down and attacked her. He pleaded guilty to disorderly conduct.

3. Terrence Howard vs. the Woman in the Diner

In 2005, Terrence Howard punched a woman he didn’t know in a suburban Philadelphia diner, later claiming self defense. The only charge that stuck: disorderly conduct.

4. Terrence Howard vs. His Ex-Girlfriend

In 2012, Terrence Howard’s girlfriend May Seng Yang told police that he attacked her at his home. But Yang was the one who was arrested. Those charges were dropped, and Howard reportedly agreed to pay Yang to stay quiet about the events of that day.

5. Terrence Howard vs. His Second Wife

Terrence Howard’s second ex-wife, Michelle Ghent, says that the actor began abusing her just one week after their January 2010 wedding. Allegations included a punch in the face and threats with a knife. Howard claimed that it was Ghent who was violent, but a judge issued a restraining order against Howard in 2011. The couple divorced.

Then, in a possible attempt at reconciliation, Ghent went to Costa Rica with Howard this summer. He allegedly attacked her, and she showed up in a Los Angeles court in August with a big black eye. Howard says he never touched her. A judge granted Ghent another restraining order.

Recently revealed court documents in that case claim that Howard sent the following to Ghent via text:

I will become Satan Himself! You were my last chance to love. I will now Hate in all things and seek my vengeance upon Humanity for all the wrongs ever done to me!! You just killed the last grain of light within me. Now the darkness has begun! I hate all things because of you! The Antichrist is Here!

So, is Terrence Howard really the guy who should be playing Nelson Mandela?

I say no. Not only should he not be playing Nelson Mandela. He should not be playing anyone. His female co-stars like Jennifer Hudson and Oprah Winfrey, Howard’s co-star in Lee Daniels’ recent The Butler, need to speak out against him. He needs to be exposed for what he is: an evil man who seems to get off on hitting women.