Usher joined a lucky fans to watch a private screening of his upcoming film, Hands of Stone.
Fellow ATLien, Keri Hilson, was also in attendance at the theater in their hometown, Atlanta.
The film follows the life of Panamanian boxer, Roberto Durán (Edgar Ramirez) who fought Sugar Ray Leonard (Usher), the undefeated lightweight champion at the time. Robert De Niro also stars in the film as Duran’s coach, Ray Arcel.
It’s been 11 years since Usher graced the movie screen — his last film was 2005’s In The Mix.
“It’s been forever since I did a movie,” he said.
The screening, which was sponsored by Atlanta’s V-103, served as the third time that Usher’s seen the movie.
“I saw it once as a whole in Cannes, and again just a couple of nights ago,” he said in an interview with the radio station before the event. “I’m honored to be a part of it.”
As for the role, Usher put in some serious work. First, he called Sugar Ray Leonard to get his approval.
“I reached out to him and asked him how he felt about it and he said, ‘Yeah, my wife’s one of your biggest fans. It’d be an honor for you to play me.’”
Then, it was all about getting into the mind of the boxing champ — including reading up on his autobiography and heading to a boxing gym in Brooklyn.
“I’m playing that something I was a fan of. I was too young for the first fight and the second but that era of boxers and what they represented for black people for young men,” said Usher. “I wanted to try something different. We know the flashy side of who Sugar Ray is. But there’s two way to look at Duran and then Sugar Ray. There’s the macho guy who Duran was who’s all about intimidation and intimidating him before the first fight and then Sugar Ray…he kind of had a fair way of dealing with things and he got intimidated that first fight — he got beat.”
Hands of Stone is set to be be released in theaters on Aug. 26.