Louis Gossett Jr. returns to the big screen this week, a rarer occurrence than you might think for an actor who owns an Academy Award.

It’s been almost three decades since Gossett won that Oscar (for Best Supporting Actor in 1982’s An Officer and a Gentleman). It’s also been almost three decades since Gossett has been in anything one would call a blockbuster, save for a small role in 2007’s Daddy’s Little Girls, a Tyler Perry film. And all of Perry’s films are guaranteed box office hits.

Gossett, now 74, stewed about his plight for years, wondering how an Oscar winner (and multiple Emmy winner) could never land another good gig. He thought racism might be an issue; indeed, when he first arrived in Hollywood in the 1967, he took a stroll on the grounds of the Beverly Hills Hotel only to be nabbed by police and chained to a tree for hours. He wondered if he’d stepped on any toes or burned any bridges over the years. He had no clue, and it tore him up inside—and out.

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