Actor Terrence Howard was terrorized by thugs as a five-year-old in his Cleveland, Ohio neighbourhood and had to relive those feelings of fear while filming hit movie CRASH.

The actor became a target of vicious, sometimes sexually-oriented attacks because of his lighter black skin and fine features.

He says, "It just makes you not trust the world. I would carry a screwdriver and have bricks and bottles placed strategically along my route home."

The actor maintains he had to revisit those feelings of vulnerability to give an authentic performance in Crash when his wife is being groped by a rogue cop played by Matt Dillon.

He explains, "That was probably the hardest role I've ever played in my life. To actually become afraid.

"I didn't want to go back there (to his childhood memories). But I knew that feeling of praying, 'Somebody please come help me.'"