From Jerry Maguire to Daddy Day Care, Regina King has played the eternally patient wife/mother role a heck of a lot. But in her latest film, Ray, the 33-year-old actress finally gets the chance to take a walk on the wild side.

King plays Margie Hendricks, a backup singer for Ray Charles (played by Jamie Foxx) who also happened to be Charles' longtime mistress. Jealous, catty and conniving, Margie is light-years away from the parts King normally plays. "When I auditioned, they thought I was reading for Della [Charles' wife]. And I'm like, 'Do I have to read for Della?' They said, 'No, who do you want to read?' and I told them, 'Margie, of course!'"

"Don't get me wrong," King says. "I would not change my r&#233sum&#233 for anything. But to have the opportunity not to play the wife was terrific. Every day I was looking forward to going to work just to be the bad girl."

King will continue to expand her horizons with Miss Congeniality 2, in which she plays Sandra Bullock's partner. "We had a blast doing that," King says happily. "I'm such a lucky girl, because I had back-to-back movies that were so much fun and huge challenges for me. I've always wanted to do a period piece, and God blessed me with the story of Ray Charles. I always wanted to do an action film, and Sandy and I are kicking butt in Las Vegas! It's really been an awesome year."

Also on her horizon is the animated version of the popular comic strip The Boondocks. King will be voicing Riley, the thuggish brother of Huey, the strip's activist hero. "I'm really excited about that," she says. "It'll be on the Cartoon Network in the Adult Swim lineup. We were trying to get Fox to pick it up, but I think Cartoon Network will give us a little more freedom to push the envelope. We should have lots of fun."