In 2013, he appeared in the comedy film Baggage Claim alongside Paula Patton.
He gained further recognition for his roles in Gladiator (2000), In America (2004), Blood Diamond (2006), Guardians of the Galaxy (2014) and Furious 7 (2015).
He has been nominated for a Golden Globe Award, three Screen Actors Guild Awards and two Academy Awards.
Hounsou began his career appearing in music videos.
He made his film debut in the Sandra Bernhard film Without You I'm Nothing (1990) and gained widespread recognition for his role as Cinqué in the Steven Spielberg film Amistad (1997).
He emigrated to Lyon in France at the age of thirteen with his brother, Edmond.
Soon after arriving in France, Hounsou dropped out of school and became homeless for a time.
A chance meeting with a photographer led to Hounsou being introduced to fashion designer Thierry Mugler, who encouraged Hounsou to pursue a modeling career.
Hounsou's film debut was in the 1990 Sandra Bernhard film Without You I'm Nothing.
Hounsou received wide critical acclaim and a Golden Globe Award nomination for his role as Cinqué in the 1997 Steven Spielberg film Amistad.He gained further notice as Juba in the 2000 film Gladiator.