Over the last decade, Chris 'Ludacris' Bridges has swiftly transitioned from an A-list rapper to a popular movie star. The Atlanta native’s debut album Incognegro came in 1999 through his own record label, Disturbing Tha Peace. Def Jam repackaged the album to what fans came to know as Back for the First Time. This was after Def Jam signed Ludacris to the New York-based label. The record spawned hit singles like “Southern Hospitality” and “What’s Your Fancy.”
Ludacris climbed to the top of rap royalty with his subsequent albums and hit singles. He released seven more studio albums after Back for the First Time. His Release Therapy record won a Grammy for Best Rap Album. The lead single “Money Maker,” featuring Pharrell, also won Best Rap Song at the Grammys of the same year. Then, he released Ludaversal in 2015. Some of his popular hit records include: “Area Codes” featuring the late-great Nate Dogg; “Rollout,” “Stand Up,” “My Chick Bad,” and “How Low.” Luda also made guest appearances on Usher’s hit singles “Yeah” and “Lovers and Friends.” Further, he's featured on DJ Khaled’s club banger, “All I Do is Win.”
Bridges is more recognized in Hollywood as a blockbuster actor than a hip-hop artist these days. This is largely because of his role in the multi-billion-dollar Fast & Furious franchise. He has appeared in six of the sequels. Luda has also signed to appear in the last two films of the franchise. Yet, the Fast and Furious Franchise films are not the only movies in his filmography. Here are some of the best movies the “Area Codes” rapper has appeared in so far.
End of the Road (2022)
Ludacris and fellow hip-hop alum Queen Latifah team up in this Netflix crime thriller, End of the Road. The film was released on the streaming platform in September 2022. It received mixed reviews due to its simple storytelling. However, it was a movie that showcased the acting range from Ludacris and Latifah.
Ludacris portrays Reggie, the brother to Brenda (Queen Latifah). She has two children, Kelly and Cam. The family is forced to relocate from Los Angeles to Houston after Brenda’s husband dies of cancer. Reggie, who hasn’t quite put his life in order, joins them to live with their mother while they get back on their feet.
John Henry (2020)
Ludacris stars alongside Terry Crews in this thriller drama film. The film had a limited theater release in January 2020. However, it was on Netflix that the film garnered viewership success. It premiered on the streaming platform in May 2020 and was the second most popular movie title at a certain point. Maurice Fadida and Eric B. Fleischman, who produced the movie, have expressed interest in a sequel after its initial success on Netflix.
The film is loosely based on the folklore of John Henry. Terry Crews plays John, while Ludacris portrays his crime-lord cousin, Hell. John is also an ex-member of Hell’s gang. The two cross paths after John tries to save two immigrant children from the clutches of his crime boss-cousin.
The Ride (2018)
The Ride is a heartwarming independent drama film that was released in 2018. It is available for viewing on Prime Video. The film received mostly positive reviews upon its release. Ludacris and Sasha Alexander play an interracial couple (Eldridge and Marianna Buultjens). They decide to adopt John, a minor initially placed in juvenile detention after a violent and racially charged incident.
The film centers on the couple’s efforts to help John overcome the challenges of his white supremacist upbringing. Eldridge and John slowly bond over the love of BMX riding and extreme sports. The family forms a bond of admiration, mutual respect, and redemption as the film concludes.
New Year’s Eve (2011)
New Year’s Eve is a romantic comedy that centers on several couples interconnected by their problematic New Year’s Eve experiences. The film is directed by Garry Marshall. It consists of an ensemble cast including Halle Berry, Jessica Biel Timberlake, Jon Bon Jovi, Robert De Niro, and Ludacris. Zac Efron, Katherine Heigl, Ashton Kutcher, Seth Meyers, Sarah Jessica Parker, and Sofía Vergara also appear.
Ludacris features as Lieutenant Brendan Nolan in the film. He is friends with Claire Morgan (Hillary Swank) and helps her make the final arrangements for the famous New York City New Year’s Eve ball drop. The film opened at No. 1 at the box office and has amassed $142 million worldwide. Critics, however, were not too kind to the movie, which several publications rated as one of the worst. Many suggested it was because of the bloated star-studded cast.
Ludacris co-stars alongside action movie phenom Gerald Butler in this science fiction thriller film that premiered in 2009. The film also features Terry Crews, who would later join forces with Ludacris for the movie John Henry. Gamer is a classic tale of how technology can be used to control human beings against their will. Of course, there always has to be resistance in such movies to create conflict. Ludacris plays the character of Brother, the spokesperson and leader of the Humanz. The Humanz is a small group of activists who are against mind-controlling technology.
Hustle & Flow (2005)
Former rappers like Will Smith, Ice-T, and Ice Cube have certainly paved the way for rappers transitioning into movies. Film studios are more comfortable now than before, bringing hip-hop acts like Ludacris, 50 Cent, and even Quavo into film franchises. Things were a little more difficult in the 2000s and backward. Hip-hop artists, and to some extent, Black actors, had to settle for stereotypical roles to prove their talents.
However, that sidebar doesn’t diminish the brilliance of Hustle & Flow. The film debuted to rave reviews due to its direction and the acting prowess of Terrence Howard. Ludacris plays the character of Skinny Black. He is a famous Memphis rapper who crosses paths with DJay (Terrence Howard). The conflict between the two ‘alphas’ is brief but believable. Of course, in 2005, Ludacris was already a famous rapper, which also helped deliver his scenes with Howard.
Fast & Furious Franchise (2003 - )
The Fast and Furious franchise is a series of action-packed movies that revolve around street racing and international heists. They also have a strong theme of family. The first sequels centered on the relationship between Dominic Toretto, played by Vin Diesel, and Brian O’Conner, played by the late Paul Walker. Notable actors like Charlize Theron, Jason Statham, Dwayne ‘The Rock' Johnson, and Hellen Mirren appeared in the later films as the franchise grew.
Ludacris plays Tej Parker in the films. He was initially a street racer/referee and an old friend of Brian O’Conner. The later sequels portray Tej as a tech genius, usually helping Toretto and Co. hack into various computer systems. He is frequently paired with Roman Pearce, played by Tyrese Gibson, to provide comic relief.