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The "Fisher" King

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AP
Selling candy for five years in a gift shop at Sony Pictures Studios, Derek Luke never lost sight of his dream to be an actor. His determination finally paid off when he was discovered by Denzel Washington, plucked from obscurity, and cast as the lead in Washington's new film "Antwone Fisher."

The movie tells the true story of Fisher, a Navy sailor struggling with anger management and abandonment issues. He conquers his demons after enlisting the help of a military psychiatrist, played by Washington, who also directs the film. Fisher himself wrote the screenplay, an adaptation of his memoir, "Finding Fish."

When Luke first learned that a film based on Fisher's life was being developed, he knew he wanted to be involved. With no industry connections, he kept up to date on the project's status by reading the Hollywood trade papers. Unknown and lacking professional representation, Luke bluffed his way into the audition process. Four years and five auditions later, he beat out hundreds of young hopefuls to win the title role, despite his lack of feature film experience.

Luke's emotional performance has been recognized by the National Board of Review (Breakthrough Performance), the New York Times' Film Critics Online (Breakthrough Performance), the Independent Spirit Awards (Best Male Lead), and Movieline Magazine (Breakthrough Performance of the Year.)

Some Facts About Derek Luke

  • Raised in Jersey City, New Jersey
  • Moved from New Jersey to California in 1995 with only $1,000 to his name
  • After relocating to the West Coast, Luke worked as an usher for Audiences Unlimited, shepherding viewers to sitcom tapings on the Universal Studios lot. His resume also includes stints as a bartender, a retail salesman, and a limo driver
  • Had guest-starring roles on the sitcoms "Moesha" and "The King Of Queens"
  • Luke actually became acquainted with the real-life Antwone Fisher prior to being cast in the film. Fisher worked as an on-lot security guard at Sony Pictures Studios while Luke worked in the gift shop
  • Enjoys jet skiing, swimming, and playing tennis
  • Next stars opposite Laurence Fishburne and Eriq LaSalle in the action-adventure "Biker Boyz"
  • Luke plays Katie Holmes's love interest in the upcoming drama "Pieces of April," written and directed by Peter Hedges. The film debuts at the Sundance Film Festival
  • Recently posed for a series of Gap ads
  • He makes his home in Pasadena, California, with his wife Sophia
"Antwone Fisher" is currently in theatres.