Breakout action star: Michael Jai White
Though he’s best known for starring in 1997’s Spawn and playing Gambol in The Dark Knight, Michael Jai White has always had a thing for ’70s blaxploitation movies. In order to secure financing for Black Dynamite, an homage to the genre that he co-wrote and stars in, he shot a trailer of himself parading around in a ghetto-fabulous leisure suit, a bushy fake ‘stache, and a thick who-da-man attitude. The gambit worked. ”I thought it was a great time to have an outlandish, politically incorrect character who acts on id,” he says.
Now the 41-year-old actor and martial artist hopes to use his post-Dynamite firepower to revive another movie archetype: the old-school action hero. ”All our alpha-male stars are imports: Hugh Jackman, Gerard Butler, Daniel Craig,” says White, who recently detoured into melodrama with Tyler Perry’s upcoming Why Did I Get Married Too? but wants to usher in a new era of cinematic ass-kicking. ”What Tyler’s done for his market, I’m trying to do with the world action market. The mantel’s wide open.”