By  on July 16, 2007

Calvin Klein Underwear will kick off its 25th anniversary with a bold new face and body for the worldwide launch of Calvin Klein Steel for men — Djimon Hounsou.

The actor, who was nominated for his second Academy Award this year for "Blood Diamond," is known for his performances in "Gladiator" and "Amistad.'' He worked out for months to sculpt his physique for the international print and outdoor advertising campaign, which will appear in 20 countries and coincide with September magazine issues, said Malcolm Carfrae, senior vice president of global communications at Calvin Klein Inc.

The ads will also appear on billboards on Houston and Lafayette Streets in Manhattan's SoHo and along the Long Island Expressway, on Sunset Boulevard in Los Angeles, on bus shelters in Miami and on bus sides in San Francisco. There will be what Carfrae described as "nonconventional but totally legal ads on street walls and building sites" in Manhattan. The billboard campaign will cover Europe, Asia, Canada and Latin America.

Photographed by Peter Lindbergh in Palm Springs, Calif., where the temperature was well over 100 degrees, the black-and-white campaign, with strong, almost surreal imagery and created by CRK with Fabien Baron, mirrors the original iconic Calvin Klein Underwear ads photographed by Bruce Weber.

"Calvin Klein Underwear [for men] has always had this iconic status of masculinity," Carfrae said. "Hounsou really worked out and took it very seriously to be the best shape he could be. In between shoots, we were giving him sponge baths because it was so hot. I went to a fitting in Los Angeles before the shoot. He was truly professional, easy-going and really believed in the product."

Hounsou, 42, is accustomed to the glam and glitz of the entertainment business, but he may not be prepared for the media frenzy to which celebrity models are usually exposed, especially as the new face for Calvin Klein men's underwear.

"You can never adequately prepare for such a thing, but I imagine it's going to receive an overwhelming amount of attention," Hounsou said in a statement. "I psyched myself up for the job. Most of the time it has to do with the rapport one has with the photographer. Generally, I try to determine if he or she has any preconceived ideas about how they want to shoot it and then I contribute my ideas."

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