JAMES EARL JONES
REVEREND STEPHEN KUMALO Academy Award nominee
James Earl Jones plays the commanding role of Reverend Stephen Kumalo in the motion picture version of Alan Paton's celebrated novel, Cry, The Beloved Country. This commanding role sees Jones as a gentle, traditional and spiritual man who leaves his humble home and church in rural Zululand to search for his delinquent son who has disappeared in brutal, crime- ridden Johannesburg in the 40's.
Jones stars alongside Richard Harris and Charles S. Dutton in the Anant Singh produced film. Most recently, Jones' famous voice is heard in Walt Disney Picture's box office hit The Lion King, in which he plays King Mufasa, the revered ruler of the land and father to Simba/ who is to be his successor. Jones has also recently been seen in TNT's Percy and Thunder, a boxing story which also stars Bilfy Dee Williams/ as well as in the title role in The Version fohns Story, the true story of the late civil rights leader which is Kareem Abdul-jabbar production through Laurel Entertainment. He also appears with Dana Carver in the MGM comedy Clean Slate and once again stars with Harrison Ford in Clear and Present Danger the third in a highly popular group of Paramount film based on the best-selling books by Tom Clancy.
Jones last year received critical praise in the literary world for his book, James Earl Jones; Voices and Silences, a memoir published by McMillan & Co. Jones was also among the most visible participants during the inaugural week activities for President Clinton in Washington D.C. where he introduces both the Clintons and the Gores at the HBO gala at Lincoln Memorial and was a star participant in the official inaugural words of great Americans with Jack Lemmon, Sally Field and Richard Dreyfuss. Simultaneously, Delos Records has released a new CD of Jones performing Lincoln Portrait with the Seattle Symphony Orchestra. Jones co-starred with Harrison Ford in Paramount Pictures Patriot Games, reprising the role he played in The Hunt For Red October. He has also completed a role in Sneakers, with Robert Redford. In addition, Jones completed Excessive Force for New Line, followed by the new Robert Townsend film Meteor Man, and then Sommersby with Richard Gere and Jodie Foster.
In 1991James Earl Jones created the dynamic, impassioned character Gabriel Bird, an ex-police officer who is released after 20 years of imprisonment for killing his partner and then becomes an investigator on the streets of Chicago, in the highly acclaimed Lorimar/ABC weekly serie5, Gabriels Fire. Millions tuned in to watch this consummate actors work. That character later joined with a new private investigator, played by Richard Crenna, in Pros & Cons. Jones, who enjoyed a return to television after nearly a decade in 1991 garnered two Emmy awards, as Best Actor in a Drama Series (for Gabriels Fire) and as Best Supporting Actor in a Mini-Series or Special (for the TNT movie Heat Wave)
. In addition, he received the 1992 NAACP Award for Best Actor trophy for his series work, garnered two Best Actor Golden Globe nominations from the Hollywood Foreign Press, and a People's Choice nomination for Best New Star on Television (the show received a nomination as well), among many accolades. Other more recent honours include two ACE Awards (cable's highest) for Heat Wave and for his performance in Third and Oak, an anthology playhouse series on the Arts & Entertainment Channel.
The past several years have been extremely successful ones on the big screen for this highly versatile actor. In 1989, he co-starred with Kevin Costner in Universal Field Of Dreams playing the sceptical and reclusive '60's author Terrence Mann, in a film that is already considered a 'classic'- A year later, he appeared in Paramount's The Hunt which became the filth highest grossing film of 1990. Other recent film roles for Jones include the highly praised Grim Prairie Tales. Convicts with Robert Duvail, and Scorchers with Faye Dunaway and Emily Lloyd. After nearly a three-year commitment to his stage role in August Wilson's Fences, which earned him a Tony Award.
Jones made a conscious career decision to devote more time to the film and television roles that had long sought him out. Not surprisingly, he has not had an idle moment since. However, Jones' beginnings are in the theatre. He was in the historic company which incubated a generation of future black stars in Jean Ganet The Blacks. His long association with the New York Shakespeare Festival began in 1959 and carried him from Hamlet to King Lear. He earned Daniel Blum's Theatre World Award as Most Promising Personality in Moon on s Rainbow Shawl in 1962, and also garnered an Obie as Best Actor in Off- Broadway Theatre for his performance in Clandestine on the Morning Line. He later received two Obies in 1965 for his work in Baal and Othello. But, it was a few years later that Jones earned worldwide acclaim in Howard Seckler's The Great White Hope, in which he played Jack Johnson, the first black heavyweight boxing champion. The performance earned him a Tony Award. His appearance in the film version two years later brought him an Academy Award nomination. In 1970 he earned his first Drama Desk Award for Lorraine Hansbeny's Les Blancs.
More recently he followed his Broadway and national touring performances in Athol Fugard's Master Harold and the Boys with Fences, which earned him another Tony, the Outer Critics Circle Award, the Drama Desk Award and the Los Angeles Drama Critics Circle Award, and nationwide critical and audience acclaim.
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