Oscar-nominee Terrence Howard is apprehensive about his chances of winning an Academy Award next month (MAR06), because his "friends" Joaquin Phoenix and Philip Seymour Hoffman are also nominated for Best Actor.

The CRASH star believes he is the "underdog" in the prestigious category, where he will compete with Walk the Line actor Phoenix and CAPOTE star Hoffman, as well as Heath Ledger for Brokeback Mountain and David Strathairn for GOOD NIGHT, AND GOOD LUCK.

Howard says, "I'm still over the moon, and I ain't coming down.

"I didn't think it would happen. You just gotta think of the talent in this category - powerful pieces and powerful people. And three of them are real-life stories.

"Philip Seymour Hoffman is my friend, and Joaquin Phoenix is my friend. It's going to be a battle of friends up there. And we're going to be happy no matter who wins. I'm hoping it's me.

"I don't mind being the underdog. I've always been the underdog. I'm so looking forward to how they respond to our howling."