NEW YORK – As a multi-platinum, Grammy-winning R&B singer, Usher's sweet crooning, flawless dance moves, debonair style and (oh yeah) washboard abs make ladies of all ages swoon.
It would have been easy for him to reel in an audience by showing off this lethal combination, but he does the exact opposite for his first leading role in a feature film.
For "In the Mix," in theaters Wednesday, Usher doesn't sing, he's virtually jewelry-free and, instead of indulging in the Michael Jackson-inspired footwork his fans are used to seeing in concerts and music videos, he barely busts a move.
As Darrell Williams, a deejay-turned-bodyguard to a Mafia princess, the 27-year-old says he "made a conscious effort to step away from 'Usher.'
"While I'm singing, it's all about me and my records, but when I'm acting, it's all about acting," says the crooner born Usher Raymond. "I tried to make my character as corny as I possibly could during the dance scene - he says that he doesn't dance, and he can't."
For now, Usher's putting his personal music career on the backburner in favor of acting.
"After having an album as successful as 'Confessions,' I didn't want to overdo it," he says. "It really was a natural evolution. Being in front of cameras all the time [as a musician], you kind of get used to acting, but you're not playing a character - it's you as an artist.
"The weirdest thing about it," he adds, "is that music is instant gratification. With acting, you hope that months later you're able to get a great reaction off the decision that you made."
While "In the Mix" has no song and dance - there is a shirtless scene for the ladies - Usher's ultimate movie role is one that would let him take advantage of all of his talents.
"My motivation are people like Gene Kelly, Frank Sinatra, Sammy Davis Jr. and Ben Vereen," he says. "They're the people I studied. They were triple threats in their time and that's what it takes to be an entertainer to me - someone that can do it all. Just being a singer doesn't make up a full entertainer for me."
Having made his bid for leading-man status and conquered the charts, Usher's also building up his label, Us Records, and enjoying being a co-owner of the NBA's Cleveland Cavaliers.
"I have so many other careers that I'd love to build. To be able to sing, dance, act, direct and handle the business of entertainment - that's what completing the circle is for me."