Stirring pots of shrimp gumbo in 1994's Forrest Gump changed Mykelti Williamson's life. The 42-year-old actor who touchingly played Bubba, the slow-witted shrimp cook says the Oscar-winning film "made me legitimate to people [in show business] who had seen me around for years before, but didn't realize it was the same guy. It launched me into features as a legitimate character actor.
"My memories of Forrest Gump are fond," Williamson adds, "because that's when Tom Hanks and Gary Sinise and all of us actually fell in love with each other." He means that in Hollywood's "love ya, babe" way, not romantically, of course! "That film really kicked off my friendship with Tommy and my lifelong golf partnership with Gary."
His acting résumé pumped by Gump, Williamson went on to score roles in other big flicks like Three Kings and Ali. Now, he co-stars with ex-New Kids on the Block crooner Donnie Wahlberg in NBC's Boomtown (airing Sundays at 10 pm/ET). As angst-ridden Bobby "Fearless" Smith, he plays an L.A. policeman with arresting worries.
"He seems to be pretty even tempered," Bobby's portrayer says, "but he's got some underlying issues. They call him 'Fearless,' yet he keeps a list of the top 100 things to do before he dies because he is fearful. Deep down inside, he lives with this haunting fear [that he has to] get it all in before it's over."