In the first part of my retrospective on Louis Gossett Jr. [SEE: http://www.examiner.com/article/louis-gossett-jr-chapter-one] we looked at his early career starting on Broadway and we followed Lou to Hollywood where he was destined to become a genuine super star by any measure. His powerful portrayal as Fiddler in the spell binding ABC miniseries “Roots” earned Louis Gossett Jr. a primetime Emmy and placed him solidly on Hollywood’s coveted A list. That was in 1977 He saturated the television screen with numerous roles in popular shows such as “Backstairs at the Whitehouse” and “Palmerstown U.S.A.” both earning Lou Gossett Emmy nominations.
But it was Louis Gossett’s role as the tough Marine drill instructor Gunnery Sergeant Emil Foley in “An Officer and a Gentleman” that earned him his first Oscar. In the minds of most Marine Corps veterans, myself included, Gossett’s portrayal was flawless and intensely believable. As Lou Gossett has said “When I’m offered a role, I look at what I think I can do with it. I look to see if I can project myself into it.” This was not lost on the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences or on the movie fans of the world.
In 1986 Lou Gossett starred as Colonel Charles “Chappy” Sinclair in the action thriller “Iron Eagle” directed by Sidney J. Furie. It is an intriguing story of an Air Force pilot shot down over a hostile Middle Eastern country where he is taken prisoner. When there is no meaningful effort to secure his release his teenage son conjures up an escape plan that involves him “borrowing” an F-16. To make it happen he needs the support of Colonel Sinclair. It is an exciting action fantasy that led to a sequel, Iron Eagle II.
These are but a few highlights in the brilliant career of Louis Gossett Jr. Over his years he has earned 172 film and television credits and received numerous awards including one Oscar, two Golden Globes, one Primetime Emmy, one Black Reel, one daytime Emmy, two Image Awards and several other wins and nominations. For complete details on Louis Gossett’s film and television acting career visit: http://www.imdb.com/name/nm0001283/?ref_=tt_cl_t4.
Then in 2010 Louis Gossett Jr. unhappily joined the ranks of fellow celebrities Charlton Heston, Dennis Hopper, Andrew Lloyd Webber, Robert De Niro, Harry Belafonte and Dennis Weaver when he Gossett was diagnosed with prostate cancer. He resolved to beat it, took radiation therapy and yet again proved himself to be a winner. Today Louis Gossett, Jr. is cancer free. So what do you do when you are a 77 year young super star who recently beat cancer? You get back to work is what you do.
Currently Louis Gossett Jr. has eleven films in pre-production, filming or post production. One of the most intriguing is the film Cottonwood. [SEE: http://www.imdb.com/title/tt2095609/?ref_=nm_flmg_act_1]. Here is a synopsis of the film.
County Sheriff Rube Whitlock is faced with raising his two young sons after the death of his young daughter which leaves his wife mentally incapacitated with grief and unable to care for them. Overwhelmed with the responsibility, Rube hires Esther, a local black woman whose husband, PV [played by Louis Gossett Jr.] has just purchased his second mule in an attempt to establish himself and his farm as competitive cotton producers. Word of PV’s ambition quickly spreads through town igniting the community’s rage, creating dissonance and contempt within the usually quiet community.
Tensions rise as Orville “Guppy” Walters, a local ne’er-do-well, instigates a campaign that begins to threaten the safety of PV. These rumblings put Rube’s loyalties and the stability of his position as sheriff under scrutiny and it begins to compromise his livelihood.
As the condition of Rube’s wife deteriorates, Esther’s natural maternal presence begins to fill voids in the Whitlock house, which further fans the racial fires in the town. Rube is ultimately forced to choose between the boundaries set by the laws he has sworn to uphold and the boundaries set by the moral convictions of the human heart.
Amidst painful pasts beginning to resurface and new secrets freshly buried, it will take a “knobby-kneed buckskin” mule, a cheap pocket knife and a lifeless Cottonwood tree to form lasting friendships that will gray the lines between black and white and begin the delicate mending of family ties in the tender heart of a young boy.
For more on Cottonwood SEE: http://www.cottonwoodfilm.com/index.html.
When I asked Lou what attracted him to the project he said simply but poignantly “its humanity.” Cottonwood has the legs, the strength and the power to earn an Oscar nomination or two and possibly yet another Oscar for Lou Gossett Jr.
But there is one other passion burning within Louis Gossett Jr and that is bringing mutual respect and harmony to our diverse masses. He is attacking that with his charitable Eracisim Foundation. SEE: http://www.eracismfoundation.org/. Related to that activity Lou is also seeking to start building Shamba Centers across the country and around the world. Shamba is a Swahili word for a small plot used for growing subsistence crops and fruit-bearing trees, often including the dwelling of the farmer. Lou views it as an opportunity for people to discover how to coexist with each other and with our planet.
Louis Gossett Jr has evolved as a genuine star, not merely on camera but in life. He has proven himself repeatedly as a master of his craft but well beyond that he has demonstrated his true commitment to the betterment of mankind. He has faced adversity and has always prevailed, he is a true winner. So it would be fair to say that in many ways it is certain that Louis Gossett Jr. shall live forever in the hearts and minds of our human population.