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NBC Insider Hot Wheels: Ultimate Challenge

Anthony Anderson's Career History from Law & Order to Hot Wheels™

Now a judge on Hot Wheels™: Ultimate Challenge, the actor has had dozens of memorable roles in film and TV.

By Megan Lasher

Among the list of seasoned stars offering their judging prowess Hot Wheels™: Ultimate Challenge's first season is the actor and comedian Anthony Anderson. His long career in Hollywood means you've likely seen him in any of a number of projects, whether as a high school football played in a Saturday morning comedy or as a tough-talking detective on Law & Order — not to mention his forthcoming E! reality series, Trippin’ with Anthony Anderson and Mama Doris. 

How to Watch

Watch Hot Wheels™: Ultimate Challenge on NBC and Peacock.

Revisit Anderson's rise to fame with a rewind through his projects. 

Anderson's early career on television

Anderson's career started with guest roles on multiple 90s television shows, including Ally McBealNYPD BlueThe Wayans Bros, In the House. In 1996, he was cast as high school basketball player Teddy Broadis in the NBC teen sitcom Hang Time, part of the network's Saturday morning television block. He remained on the show — which chronicled a girl who plays for a boys' team — for two seasons.

Anderson's first movie roles

Jerry O'Connell, Jill Hennessy and Anthony Anderson together.

Anderson also began to get film roles in the early 2000s, including as the security guard Maurice to Aaliyah's character, Trish, in Romeo Must Die, a security guard in the Martin Lawrence drag comedy Big Momma's House, and Jim Carey's adult son in Me, Myself & Irene. While continuing to take TV roles, he accepted the role of J.D. in the seminal ensemble comedy Barbershop alongside Ice Cube, Eve, and Cedric the Entertainer. The film was Anderson's major breakthrough movie role and was nominated for dozens of awards. It continues to be a well-loved, critically-acclaimed hit. 

That was followed by his first lead in a movie as Jerry O'Connell's best friend in the comedy Kangaroo Jack.

Anderson then joined the Scary Movie parody franchise, appearing in Scary Movie 3 and Scary Movie 4 as an ancillary character who manages not to die.

Anderson's lead television roles

Det. Kevin Bernard (Anthony Anderson) in a scene from Law & Order.

In 2003, Anderson wrote, created and starred in how own sitcom, All About the Andersons. The show ran for one season and featured him as Anthony Anderson, a single father who decided to move back to his parents' house.

Thereafter, he had a recurring guest role on The Bernie Mac Show, appeared on Law and Order: Special Victims Unit for one episode, guested for six episodes on the sitcom 'Til Death, and appeared on three different seasons of The Shield. He then accepted a role as New Orleans police detective Marlin Boulet in the drama K-Ville, which aired for one season.

Anderson then accepted the role of Det. Kevin Bernard Law & Order in 2008, first appearing in Seasons 18-20. (He reprised his role in the Season 22, which premiered in 2022.)

Gus Guster (Dule Hill), Thane (Anthony Anderson), and Shawn Spencer (James Roday) appear in a scene from Psych.

He subsequently appeared on Shameless, Psych, and Treme (another show about New Orleans), among other roles.

Jesse Bradford, Zach Cregger, and Anthony Anderson together.

In 2011, he starred in the acclaimed NBC sitcom Guys with Kids, where he played a dad alongside Jesse Bradford and Zach Cregger under the creative direction of producer Jimmy Fallon

Tracee Ellis Ross next to Anthony Anderson.

In 2014, he starred in the Kenya Barris sitcom Black-ish, playing the lead character Andre 'Dre' Johnson opposite Tracee Ellis Ross for 8 seasons. He reprised the role of Dre in Barris' sister shows Grown-ish and Mixed-ish. As a star and executive producer for the Black-ish franchise, Anderson received 11 total Emmy nominations

Anderson's other movie roles

Anderson went on to appear in Oscar-winning films Hustle & Flow (2006), as sound technician Key, and Martin Scorcese'sThe Departed (2006), as Trooper Brown (who nearly saves Leonardo DiCaprio's character). He also appeared in Transformers (2007), as hacker Glen Whitmann, and reprised his role as J.D. in Barbershop: The Next Cut in 2016. In 2023 he reunited with Black-ish creator Barris for You People.

Anderson's next act

Anderson recently took his mother, Doris Hancox, on the "trip of a lifetime" as a way to thank her for supporting his career. Their trip is documented in the E! show Trippin’ with Anthony Anderson and Mama Doris. Premiering June 11, the docuseries will show highlights and funny moments from their six-week journey across Europe together. 

Hot Wheels: Ultimate Challenge Trailer | NBC

And, of course, Anderson will appear on the hit show Hot Wheels: Ultimate Challenge as a celebrity guest judge, where he'll get to give feedback on ordinary cars that have been transformed into fantastical vehicles. Hot Wheels: Ultimate Challenge premieres Tuesday May 40, at 10/9c on NBC and next day on Peacock.