It has been nearly a decade-and-a-half since the story of Harlem drug kingpin Frank Lucas was brought to the silver screen with American Gangster. Like many of Ridley Scott’s best movies that have come before and since, the 2007 crime drama featured an outstanding group of actors like Denzel Washington, Russell Crowe, and other established stars, as well as a few actors who were on the rise.
If you have been wondering what the American Gangster cast has been up to all these years and where their careers have taken them since they appeared in one of the best movies of 2007, buckle up, because we’re about to go for a ride…
Denzel Washington (Frank Lucas)
American Gangster, which happens to be one of the best Denzel Washington movies, sees the two-time Oscar winner portray the late New York drug trafficker Frank Lucas. Washington’s career following his appearance in Ridley Scott’s epic drama has been just as successful as it was before, with the actor being nominated for four Academy Awards in the past decade alone.
In the past few years, Washington has appeared in movies like The Equalizer 2, The Little Things, and, most recently, The Tragedy of Macbeth in which he plays the titular Lord in Joel Coen’s Shakespeare adaptation. Washington has also produced multiple projects, including Fences (which he directed and starred in) and Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom.
Russell Crowe (Richie Roberts)
The best Russell Crowe movies are those that see the decorated actor portray complicated characters, and that's the case with detective-turned-attorney Richie Roberts in American Gangster. Since taking on the role of Frank Lucas’s pursuer (and later defense attorney), Crowe has continued to make a case for being one of the most interesting actors in Hollywood.
In the past couple of years, Crowe has appeared in Boy Erased, Unhinged, and The Loudest Voice, for which he won a Golden Globe for Best Actor in a Miniseries in 2020. Crowe is next set to portray Zeus in Taika Waititi’s second entry in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, Thor: Love and Thunder.
Chiwetel Ejiofor (Huey Lucas)
Chiwetel Ejiofor has a prominent role in American Gangster as Huey Lucas, Frank’s brother and an instrumental player in the family’s drug empire. Ejiofor was already a notable actor by the time he joined the American Gangster cast, thanks to Love Actually, Inside Man, and Children of Men, but the years following the film’s release have been some of the best for talented actor.
Movies like 12 Years a Slave, The Martian, and Doctor Strange have done nothing but propel Ejiofor into superstardom, as have recent tiles like The Old Guard and Locked Down. Expect to see more of the Academy Award nominee in Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness and The Man Who Fell to Earth.
Josh Brolin (Detective Trupo)
Josh Brolin gave one of the best villainous performances of his career when he took on the role of Detective Nick Trupo in American Gangster. Although Brolin had already established himself as one of the best actors around, the 2007 drama came out just as the Hollywood star reached new heights.
Some of the best Josh Brolin movies have followed in past decade-and-a-half, including No Country For Old Men, Milk, Avengers: Infinity War, and Avengers: Endgame in which he portrayed Thanos. Brolin returned to the MCU in 2021 to voice the Mad Titan once again on an episode of What If…? the same year he would appear in Flag Day and Denis Villeneuve’s adaptation of Dune.
Lymari Nadal (Eva)
Lymari Nadal appears in American Gangster as Eva Lucas, the Puerto Rican beauty queen who becomes Frank’s wife. Not long after the release of Ridley Scott’s crime drama, Nadal appeared in Battlestar Galactica: The Plan (reprising her role of Giana from the show’s first season), America, and several other productions until 2016. According to a 2015 piece by KFOR News in Oklahoma City, Nadal moved to Oklahoma and was leading an initiative to recruit more bilingual teachers.
Ted Levine (Lou Toback)
Ted Levine shows up in American Gangster as Lou Toback, the Newark police captain who puts Richie Roberts up to the task of leading the department’s drug task force. The actor, who made a name for himself with a terrifying performance as Buffalo Bill in The Silence of the Lambs, has spent much of the past few years bouncing between film and television with major roles on shows like The Alienist and Big Sky, and a list of movies that includes Jurassic Park: Fallen Kingdom and A Violent Separation.
John Hawkes (Freddie Spearman)
One of the best character actors around, John Hawkes portrayed detective Freddie Spearman in American Gangster. In the years following the release of the movie, Hawkes landed a few of the biggest roles of his career including spots in The Sessions and Winter’s Bone, both of which netted him numerous award considerations, including Academy Award nominations.
More recently, Hawkes has appeared in Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri, The Peanut Butter Falcon, and End of Sentence. His television work includes a return to the role of Sol Star in 2019’s Deadwood: The Movie and Too Old to Die Young.
Cuba Gooding Jr. (Nicky Barnes)
Cuba Gooding Jr. takes on the role of crime lord Nicky Barnes in American Gangster. In the years following the release of Ridley Scott’s epic drama, Gooding Jr. went on to have some of the biggest success of his career including The Butler, Selma, and American Crime Story: The People v. O.J. Simpson, a performance that earned him a great deal of praise and multiple award nominations. The Academy Award winner’s most recent film appearance came in the 2020 drama Life in a Year.
Idris Elba (Tango)
Idris Elba only appears briefly in American Gangster, but his portrayal of the drug dealer named Tango is one to remember (he gets shot point blank by Frank Lucas, in case you forgot). Elba was only a few years removed from his turn as Stringer Bell on The Wire and was just about to become an even bigger star.
Since then, Elba has appeared in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, the Fast and Furious franchise, and several other major productions. Here recently, Elba has been in Concrete Cowboy, The Suicide Squad, and The Harder They Fall. Expect to see him soon in Sonic the Hedgehog 2, Beast, and the long-awaited Luther film adaptation.
Common (Turner Lucas)
Taking on the role of Turner Lucas in American Gangster is rapper-turned-actor Common, whose career has only continued to be on the rise in the nearly 15 years since the film’s release. In the past few years, Common has gone toe-to-toe with Keanu Reeves’ lethal assassin in John Wick: Chapter 2, showed up in movies like Girls Trip, The Hate U Give, and Hunter Killer, and just about everything else. He will next appear in Charlie Day’s star-studded comedy El Tonto. In 2018, Common even formed a jazz supergroup called August Greene, per Billboard.
Clifford Joseph Harris Jr. (Stevie Lucas)
Taking on the role of Stevie Lucas, Frank’s eager nephew, in American Gangster is Clifford Joseph Harris Jr., better known as Atlanta rapper T.I. The rapper-turned-actor’s appearance in the 2007 crime thriller was only his second film role, though he has since gone on to appear in the first two Ant-Man movies, Takers, Roots, and, most recently, Monster Hunter.
And, even though he has increased his acting output over the course of the past decade, T.I. hasn’t really slowed down with his music career, releasing his 11th studio album The L.I.B.R.A. in 2020 with his 12th and final release Kill the King currently in the works, per Rap-Up.
RZA (Moses Jones)
Taking on the role of Moses Jones in American Gangster is Wu-Tang Clan member and actor RZA. Over the years, RZA has appeared in movies like Brick Mansions, The Dead Don’t Die, and most recently, Nobody, alongside Bob Odenkirk. RZA is slated to provide voice work in the upcoming animated film Minions: The Rise of Gru. The prolific music producer and rapper hasn’t lost track of his first love, as he continues to release records, including the 2021 album RZA vs Bobby Digital.
Ruby Dee (Mahalee Lucas)
And then there is the late, great Ruby Dee, who portrayed Mahalee Lucas, Frank’s mom, in American Gangster. Prior to her death at the age of 91 in June 2014, Dee appeared in countless film, television, and stage productions in addition to writing multiple books of poetry.
Over the years, Dee gave landmark performances in A Raisin in the Sun, The Jackie Robinson Story, Do the Right Thing, and The Stand, to name a few. Dee also received a tremendous number of accolades throughout her life, including a Primetime Emmy Award, a Grammy, the National Medal of Arts, and the NAACP’s Spingarn Medal.
This is just a small portion of the outstanding American Gangster cast, as listing every single actor who appeared in Ridley Scott's crime epic would just keep going and going. After checking out this list, take a look at all the 2022 movie releases, so you can read all about where you'll see these actors in the very near future.
Philip grew up in Louisiana (not New Orleans) before moving to St. Louis after graduating from Louisiana State University-Shreveport. When he's not writing about movies or television, Philip can be found being chased by his three kids, telling his dogs to stop yelling at the mailman, or yelling about professional wrestling to his wife. If the stars properly align, he will talk about For Love Of The Game being the best baseball movie of all time.
Your Daily Blend of Entertainment News
Thank you for signing up to CinemaBlend. You will receive a verification email shortly.
There was a problem. Please refresh the page and try again.