That Actor Whose Name You Forgot: Barry Shabaka

That Actor Whose Name You Forgot:  Barry Shabaka

It’s possible that you’ve looked at a lot of actors in your life and said: “I know that person” when they come on screen, but you can’t remember their name for the life of you. Barry Shabaka Henley is one of those that a lot of people do this with since he’s a great actor but he’s also played so many roles that it’s easier to call him by the role he’s played than his real name. He’s taken on so many roles just like so many supporting actors that it’s hard to list them all without taking all day. But a few notable roles are easy to remember since he did such a great job and they’re in movies that a lot of people will likely remember because they were blockbusters that were hard to forget. It does sound as though Barry started acting when he was just a teenager and has been building his career since that time when he finally entered the mainstream after acting on stage for so long. Barry is another actor that has such a long list of credits that one can’t help but be amazed since he’s taken on one project after another in a manner that makes it appear that he’s trying to squeeze as much into his life as he can in order to get as much as he can out of it. That’s not a bad goal really since it’s made him one of the more recognizable faces in the industry.

There are several roles that could be taken into account and called his best, but one of the more noticeable was that of Herbert from the movie Ali since this is one of the times when Barry actually played a rather slimy character that people didn’t care that much for even if he was someone that might have been a bit different in real life. Despite being a supporting character in the story, Herbert is one of those individuals that is seen as kind of a leech when it comes to Muhammad Ali’s career. Even in real life, this was seen as a major criticism that the real Herbert had to deal with since it was seen that he managed Ali well past his prime. In the movie, Herbert is the kind of guy you just don’t trust since he definitely has his own interests at heart when it comes to Ali’s career, even if there are moments when it feels as though he might actually care. In roles such as this, it’s easy for actors to get mistaken for being the types of people that don’t care that much about others, but that’s just how good they are at what they do, at least most of the time.

Another convincing role he played was that of an informant in the movie Collateral with Tom Cruise and Jamie Foxx, as he played Daniel, a jazz musician that was on the hit list of an assassin that was killing off witnesses and had Daniel in his sites. The audience knew very well that Vincent wouldn’t be letting Daniel walk away, but he gave the illusion that he could do so if he answered a simple question about Miles Davis, the king of cool and a jazz legend that everyone that’s ever loved jazz would know at least a little about. Needless to say, Daniel thought he was smarter and answered the question in the fashion he believed was correct and earned several shots to the head for his troubles as Vincent revealed the real answer while gently laying Daniel’s head on the table between them, almost to give the man his dignity before he left, with no one the wiser. That was a short role, to be honest, but it was still convincing one that helped to further cement Barry’s place in cinema since another one that I’m about to mention was actually one of his nicer and definitely more easily embraced roles out of his entire career.

Officer Thurman wasn’t a bad guy in The Terminal, which starred Tom Hanks and Stanley Tucci in opposing roles, but he was a guy that followed the rules and the orders he was given. When Tucci’s character went after Hanks numerous times to try and get him to break the quarantine that had been placed on him due to a coup in his country that had displaced Victor, played by Hanks, as a citizen, Tucci’s plan was to let Victor simply run into the city, which would have been illegal given his current status as a man with no country, and let the authorities have him. Officer Thurman obviously didn’t want to go along with the order, but near the end of the movie, he did the right thing by allowing Victor, who had regained his citizenship, to go on his way, with his blessing no less. Barry is the kind of guy whose name you might not remember, but you can remember him by the roles he’s played.

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