20 legendary Black science fiction actors who rocked the genre

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Chris Tucker

Yes, this is a bit out of left field. Chris Tucker, he of the high pitched voice and manic acting energy, seems more fit to work with Jackie Chan than a grand sci-fi space opera. And he has done plenty of interesting work on series like the Rush Hour films and Friday. But, if we’re talking prominent Black actors in science fiction, then we’d be committing some sort of sin if we didn’t mention Ruby Rhod.

Ruby, as played by Tucker, appears in the wild, fantastic sci-fi jumble of The Fifth Element (1997). And, yes, he does play a side character, but Tucker’s work is so over the top and energetic that you’ll never forget it once you see it.

First, a little back story. The Fifth Element stars Bruce Willis as Corbin Dallas, a grump of a taxi driver who lives in 23rd century New York City. He accidentally crosses paths with Leeloo, a powerful alien being played by Milla Jovovich. She is, of course, a “one” in the grand tradition of many science fiction tales being a pivotal figure who will save the planet from massive destruction.

Part way through the movie, Corbin and Leeloo must travel on board a spacefaring luxury hotel to connect with a singer/secret agent of sorts. Corbin is targeted as the winner of a sweepstakes, which is where Ruby Rhod comes in. Rhod is the host of a massively popular radio show. Besides the outsize personality, he also has an incredibly distinct fashion sense, between the spiraling hair and leopard print get-ups.

Eventually, Rhod even helps to save the world, though he ends up storming out of the climactic scene in a fit of frustration. Despite the abrupt exit, we’re sure Chris Tucker’s role will live on in sci-fi memory for many years to come.