Actor/musician Leon Robinson, better known to moviegoers by just his first name, has done other movies, made music and appeared on The Real Housewives of Atlanta, but to many fans, he’ll always be known as J.T. from the now classic Robert Townsend directed film, The Five Heartbeats. Fortunately, he’s OK with that, even if he had no idea it would turn out to be so popular.
“I didn’t know but while we were filming Robert just kept telling us about how we hadn’t seen five Black men on the screen with varied emotions, just being real people with one another,” Leon told the Tom Joyner Morning Show. “He just thought it was going to be huge.”
Originally released in 1991, The Five Heartbeats wasn’t a box office smash. But in the years since, it’s become a go-to movie for many Black households, including J. Anthony Brown’s. He knows just about every line and scene from the movie, probably more than Leon does.
“I don’t have a favorite line from the movie,” Leon says. “If you like it, that’s my favorite line. I’m just glad that you’re playing Leon movies.”
The BluRay release comes out today and although many fans of the movie will be happy for the upgraded sound and picture, unfortunately the Blu Ray version doesn’t include any additional content. But it should fly off the shelves regardless. At a recent Los Angeles screening for the release, Leon says the line was around the block.
As for his stint on The Real Housewives (he’s housewife Cynthia Bailey’s ex-husband) he says that he’s OK with recent storylines that have shown he and Bailey’s 13-year-old daughter starting to date.
“It’s fine. I’ve been preparing for this day since the day she was born,” he says. “As soon as I knew I was having a girl, I said let me get my attitude right so I could be her friend, not somebody she winds up drifting away from.” Townsend has said on the Tom Joyner Morning Show that there will be a Five Heartbeats sequel, though no more word has come on script, the original cast participation or a release date.
“Robert talked about it and people responded like crazy. They were talking about calling it Leon and the Four Heart Attacks but Robert didn’t like that,” he laughs.
With the success of The Best Man Holiday the sequel to The Best Man that did well at the box office after 16 years, Leon thinks there is a chance.
“Maybe we can bring back some of our classic movies that we love.”