Picks and Pans Review: First Look: Terrence Howard in Pride

updated 08/07/2006 AT 01:00 AM EDT

originally published 08/07/2006 AT 01:00 AM EDT

Terrence Howard took the plunge for his role in the upcoming Pride. To play real-life Philadelphia Department of Recreation swimming coach Jim Ellis—who founded the city's first African-American swim team in 1973—the 37-year-old Hustle & Flow Oscar nominee spent hours in the pool practicing his strokes, losing 30 lbs. in the process. His trainer? None other than Ellis himself, who put Howard through drills with the current PDR team. So was Howard much of a swimmer? "Not really," says Pride director Svinuari Obert Gonera. "But when [Ellis] got ahold of him, he learned so quickly. He was absolutely determined." The perfectionist performer also proved a convincing coach. "Terrence loves teaching, and the kids responded to him as if he were their real coach," Gonera says. Pride hits theaters in December.

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