Leon is known for his roles in projects like The Temptations, and since those past projects, he hasn’t slowed down and is proving that he’s only getting better. I

In his latest film, he plays a bad guy with a good conscience in the new film A Day to Die alongside Bruce Willis.

It’s something Leon was able to dig his teeth into to showcase his versatility as an artist, something he’s always stretched himself to do.

Leon spoke to Shadow and Act in a recent interview about why this role made sense, his lengthy resume, not falling victim to reality television and more.

Leon says he wanted to do ‘A Day to Die’ for two reasons

One of the reasons Leon was attracted to the project was because it’s something his fanbase isn’t used to seeing him in. Leon stars as Tyrone Pettis, a street king who has a cop by the balls after he takes one of his most valuable crew members off the streets.

The action packed film allowed him to show his range as an actor. Furthermore, he was sold on the fact that a Black man directed the film, which is not common in the industry.

“I wanted to work with an up and coming Black action director, in which there are very few of and Wes Miller is that. When he first talked to me and offered me the movie, I said, ‘Let’s go along for the ride.’ And for me, as an actor, anytime you get to play a role, one of these roles where it’s basically you against the world, you get to do it, you get to show a lot of facets of what you can do.”

On the roles he’s most known for in his career

Though this role isn’t one many would expect him to portray, he’s become synonymous with musicals and playing Black musical icons, or impressions of them. Who could forget Leon as David Ruffin of The Temptations in the legendary miniseries, or as Little Richard? Leon says he’s grateful that his fans remember him for his wide range of characters. 

“I’ve been truly blessed in the fact that people hadn’t really pigeonholed me or memory from just one role, I have about maybe five or six of them that people just come up to me [and remember me for],” he said. “It’s David Ruffin, there’s also Doc from The Five Heartbeats. My part in Above the Room, and the ladies always talk about Russell from ‘Waiting to Exhale’…So it’s all fine with me.”

His decision not to do reality television is intentional

Most stars of his magnitude have turned to reality television in order to keep their name relevant. But outside of Leon appearing on The Real Housewives of Atlanta in support of his ex, Cynthia Bailey, and their daughter Noelle Robinson, he’s stayed away from unscripted television.

“I would like to only be known for my characters. We live in a different world now where people want to know everything about you, your real-life and your private life. But back in the days and old Hollywood, you only knew about the films that people did and you recognized them for that, and it was great,” he said. “I just think that sometimes when you know too much about a performer, it makes it hard for them to convince you they’re somebody else.”

Watch the full interview above.