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Toronto home away from home for Lou Gossett Jr. getting Black History Month honours

By Jane Stevenson, Postmedia Network

Lou Gossett Jr., who won a best supporting actor Oscar for his role in An Officer and a Gentleman, is being honored at the Toronto Black Film Festival.

Lou Gossett Jr., who won a best supporting actor Oscar for his role in An Officer and a Gentleman, is being honored at the Toronto Black Film Festival.

How appropriate that Oscar winner Lou Gossett Jr. will get a Lifetime Achievement Award on Saturday (Feb. 18) at AGO's Jackman Hall during the Toronto Black Film Festival (running Feb. 15-19)? Turns out the 80-yearold Brooklyn native - best known for his screen roles in An Officer and A Gentleman, Iron Eagle and Enemy Mine and the TV mini-series Roots - considers T.O. his home away from home.

"I used to live there," said Gossett, whose arrival at TBFF coincides with Black History Month.

"So hopefully I'll see some of my old friends there and get to reunite with them. I had a house in Rosedale for a couple of years [about eight years ago] because I shot so many movies up there. And then, I dated one of the ballerina dancers from the [National Ballet of Canada]. I should've kept her (laughs). I've been all over Canada, but Toronto is like a second home. I attended a Sunday coffee klatch. Everybody would drink coffee and then we would go for our walks. It was a beautiful ritual. We all knew each other."

24 Hours caught up with the thrice-divorced Gossett down the line from LAX where he was about to board a plane to New York City to shoot a new role in The Good Wife's CBS spin-off The Good Fight (which will air on W in Canada starting Feb. 19).

Who will you play on The Good Fight? It's a recurring character. I'm a lawyer. He's one of the leading civil rights lawyers. I'm very excited. There are no upwardly mobile, mature African American men at this stage on television. They're all gangbangers, drug dealers but no responsible, mature African American men. And on this series, there are two.

Do you feellthe Oscars made some progress this year with African Americans nominated in all the top acting categories? Yes, absolutely! And it could be even more! There are these brilliant actors and actresses and directors and performers coming up with new work.

How do you feel about the TBFF honour? You'll also participate in a session with your son, Satie Gossett, whose short film 10 Minutes is premiering at the festival. It's very special. The apple's not falling far from the tree.

Does it force you to look back at your long career when you receive these accolades? You reflect and you're very grateful but all you have is today. I'm very grateful. I haven't worked a day in my life.

Have you been to TBFF previously? Yes, I've been there before, early on.

Will you spend much time in Toronto this trip? In the winter time, it's a quickie (laughs). In the spring, summer and fall, I might hang out a little bit more.

Do people stop you on the street and call out any specific roles of yours? People come out of the woodwork everywhere. They give handshakes and hugs. I appreciate it. There are three [roles] specifically. Two looked like me, the other one didn't. One is Roots, one is An Officer and A Gentleman and the third is Enemy Mine [in which I played an alien]. Hopefully, I don't look like that [laughs].

You currently have a very polarizing president. Do you have hope for him in the role? I have a great hope for the future. I think God set all this up. I believe very much in God and I think this is a challenge 'cause he's now president and he has to be respected. He has to reunite everybody. We have to be responsible. 'One nation under God, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all.' If we don't practice it, we're going to get into trouble.