Usher laced up his gloves to play the legendary Sugar Ray Leonard in the upcoming film Hands of Stone, a Roberto Duran biopic that tells the story of Duran and Leonard’s iconic history. Edgar Ramirez stars as Duran, with Robert Deniro as famed trainer Ray Arcel.
The trailer has been released online and features snippets of Usher as Leonard; and the filmmakers did a pretty good job transforming the R&B superstar into Sugar Ray–and the brief snippets we get of Usher/Leonard imply that the singer really threw himself into the role.
Usher told Radio.com back in 2014 that he dedicated himself mentally and physically to preparing for the part.
“It was intense,” he said. “I push my body when I’m working on performing I do a two-hour set and I’m never still — I’m dancing, I’m singing, I’m moving around. I never stand still on the stage, so to be able to be in the ring with an opponent in front of you who’s trying to tear your head off, you have to figure out how to move. Sugar Ray wasn’t a boxer who stood still… He moved all around that ring; you never could catch him in a corner. His defense was his ability to move and shock you.
“To analyze, train with him, really work on myself as a boxer, I didn’t want to act it — I wanted to feel like a boxer, so I spent days and nights — months — preparing with a trainer in Atlanta.”
Hands of Stone also features Jurnee Smollett-Bell, John Turturro and Ellen Barkin. This is Usher’s first leading role in a film since 2005s forgettable In the Mix, and his first full-on experience in a character-driven drama such as this. Check out the trailer above–are you excited to see if Usher can pull this off?