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The Versatile Mr. Wright, Starring as Hometown Hero

Jeffrey Wright (Fred Prouser/Reuters)

Hey, is that Jeffrey Wright? The acclaimed actor looks different in just about every role -- this fall, he was Colin Powell in "W" and CIA agent Felix Leiter in "Quantum of Solace." And we barely recognized him at Tuesday's local premiere of "Cadillac Records," where he co-stars as Muddy Waters.

But, yes, that was the D.C. native, surrounded by doting family and friends at Regal Gallery Place theaters. Wright was raised in Southeast Washington, went to St. Alban's, majored in poli-sci at Amherst expecting to go to law school: "Growing up in Washington, there's no other way to end up," he said with a grin. Then he started acting and the rest (Tony, Emmy, Golden Globe awards) is history.

Now he's co-starring with Beyoncé, Mos Def and Adrien Brody in the glitzy music biopic (opening tomorrow) about Chess Records, the Chicago label that made Waters, Chuck Berry and Etta James household names in the 1950s and '60s. After the screening, Wright was presented with an official proclamation by the D.C. Council ("Jeffrey Wright Day") and a birthday cake -- he turns 43 on Sunday.

But he's still got Potomac fever: Wright said he'll be back in the District for Barack Obama's inauguration. Wright campaigned for him early on and wants his kids to witness a life-changing moment. "It's the first opportunity in the history of this country that brown-skinned children can see themselves deeply connected to the event," he said. "On January 20, my kids become the All-American kids."

By The Reliable Source  |  December 4, 2008; 1:03 AM ET
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The brother can act. He and his 'Topdog Underdog' co-star Don Cheadle were the main reasons why Suzan Lori-Parks' play won a Pulitzer Prize when it was shown on off-Broadway a few years ago. The work itself is not particularly compelling and the ending is ludicrous. But Misters Wright and Cheadle tore through the cliched situations and dialogue like they were prime rib steak.

Bravo indeed to a damned good actor.

Posted by: elldre3 | December 4, 2008 5:54 AM | Report abuse

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