Celebrity interviews can sometimes throw up strange pieces of information about their subjects. That was certainly the case when Taye Diggs was quizzed on The Talk back in 2012, as on that occasion the audience discovered that the star had possessed an additional finger on each of his hands at birth. And when the actor’s mother had found out about her son’s extra digits, she had had a big decision to make.
Diggs was born in January 1972, with the future star moving to Rochester, New York, during his younger years. And he went on to become the older brother of four siblings before enrolling at Allendale Columbia School. After Diggs started classes at the institution, however, he chose to go in another direction.
You see, Diggs opted to move to Rochester’s School of Arts following a spell at Allendale Columbia. A burgeoning passion for performing saw the New Yorker later earn a spot at Syracuse University, too. Then, after Diggs graduated from college with a degree in musical theater, he started treading the boards proper.
Yes, in 1994 Diggs made his very first appearance on Broadway in a production of the classic musical Carousel. But the aspiring actor didn’t continue to take up roles in his homeland after that. Instead, he relocated to Japan for a job dancing at Tokyo Disneyland, where he further honed his skills.
After spending a few months in east Asia, however, Diggs eventually came back to New York in 1996. And the actor returned to Broadway later that year by joining the cast of a production of Rent; during that period, he also ended up on the small screen.
Indeed, Diggs made his television debut back in 1996 after bagging a small role in New York Undercover. That appearance was followed in turn by a bit part on Law & Order, which was broadcast the same year. The fledgling star subsequently diversified, too, by showcasing his voice-acting skills in an 1997 episode of 101 Dalmatians: The Series.
But Diggs wasn’t set to remain a TV star forever. In 1998, you see, he made a jump to movies. Specifically, the versatile performer was cast in the romantic comedy How Stella Got Her Groove Back, which saw Angela Bassett in the title role.
And Diggs went on to nab several other big-screen roles, too. In 1999, for instance, the actor turned up in the ensemble comedy Go, in which he appeared alongside stars including Sarah Polley, Katie Holmes and Timothy Olyphant. He also bagged a leading part in romcom The Wood.
Plus, it seemed that Diggs had been busy behind the scenes, as he starred in a further two movies released in 1999.The Best Man – a romantic comedy that also features Terrence Howard and Nia Long – hit theaters in October that year, followed swiftly by horror remake House on Haunted Hill.
However, Diggs showed up in just one movie in 2000 – crime drama The Way of the Gun – before eventually returning to the small screen. The rising star joined the cast of Ally McBeal as lawyer Jackson Duper and went on to appear in ten episodes of the show’s fourth season.
But Diggs hadn’t completely turned his back on movies. In 2002, you see, the actor made his first real foray into the action genre through dystopian drama Equilibrium, which saw him share billing alongside Christian Bale.
And Diggs returned to more recognizable surroundings a short time after that, as he bagged a role in the film adaptation of stage musical Chicago. Then, over the next few years, the versatile actor alternated between movie and television work – including a project that almost seemed tailor-made for him.
Yes, when a movie version of Rent was in production, Diggs scooped a part. In fact, he reprised the character – landlord Benny – whom he had played on stage some nine years prior. Unfortunately for Diggs, however, the film didn’t replicate the success of the original musical, as it ultimately flopped at the worldwide box office.
Still, Diggs dusted himself down and earned a brief role in the TV sitcom Will & Grace. He was then cast as the lead in Day Break – a new sci-fi action show that premiered on ABC in 2006. And while that series only lasted for one season, the flop definitely didn’t spell the end of Diggs’ small-screen career.
In 2007, you see, Diggs showed up on TV as Grey’s Anatomy’s Dr. Sam Bennett. And although he only appeared in three episodes of the show over the following two years, his character would play an integral role in the program’s spin-off.
Diggs went on to star in over 100 episodes of Private Practice, in fact, before the show finally came to an end in 2013. During that run, he also appeared in series such as Better Off Ted and The Super Hero Squad Show – lending his voice to Black Panther for the latter.
Meanwhile, as Diggs continued to enjoy the success of Private Practice, he appeared on The Talk in January 2012. The daytime series first hit the small screen back in October 2010, and since then several different women have taken on co-hosting duties.
On the occasion that Diggs showed up on The Talk, for instance, actress Sheryl Underwood was one of the hosts. And during that appearance, the conversation took an intriguing turn. In particular, the performer had something to share about certain bodily attributes that he had once possessed as a child – and ones not much of the audience would likely have previously known about.
It was revealed, you see, that Diggs had been born with an additional finger on each of his hands; in total, then, he had once possessed 12 digits. “I’m actually an alien,” the star quipped before going on to recount an personal anecdote.
Diggs said on the show that his mother had been faced with an interesting decision regarding her son’s extra fingers. “My mom told me [that the doctors] asked her if she wanted to let the digit grow or to remove it,” he continued. “And they removed it. But I could have been really handy.”
After making that risque joke, Diggs was then asked about his role in How Stella Got Her Groove Back. In particular, Underwood was curious as to how he had made his co-star Angela Bassett cry in the film – a line of questioning that yielded yet another funny response from Diggs. “I used the nub where my 12th finger was,” he said. “No, I’m just kidding.”
However, Diggs isn’t the only star to have been born with an additional digit on both hands. Referred to as polydactyly, the ailment affects a very small percentage of children – including some who also grow up to be celebrities. And Gemma Arterton was among them, as she revealed to Esquire magazine back in 2008.
Ahead of Arterton’s starring role in the James Bond movie Quantum of Solace, she opened up about the condition. And much like Diggs, the actress’ extra fingers had been removed when she was just a baby. But there was a key difference between Arterton’s case and that of the Private Practice actor: namely, polydactyly appeared to run in her family.
“It’s my little oddity that I’m really proud of,” Arterton told Esquire of her 12 digits. “People are really interested but repulsed at the same time. My dad had them, and my granddad. I feel like we’re one step ahead – a sign of things to come.”
From there, Arterton made a humorous point about the potential advantages of an additional two digits. “We could do more stuff if we had extra fingers,” she added. “Faster texting, faster emailing, better guitar-playing.” But Arterton is by no means the only actress said to have polydactyly.
Thanks to some close-up snaps, you see, many people believed that Halle Berry has six toes on one or both of her feet. The photos in question appeared to show an extra digit next to the little toe on her right foot, leading the star to receive an offer to advertise a special pair of sneakers that would accommodate those with polydactyly.
Unlike Diggs and Arterton, though, Berry confirmed that she didn’t have the condition. “There was a rumor that I had six toes on both of my feet,” the Hollywood star told TV show Extra in January 2017. “I want to set that straight. So many people think I have six toes… I do not have six toes.”
Berry wasn’t the only famous face to tackle rumors of that type, either. Back in May 2007, TMZ snapped a photo of Oprah Winfrey while she attended an event in Washington, D.C. And in the accompanying story, the website made an intriguing suggestion.
In the photograph, it appeared that Winfrey had an extra toe on her left foot, with the putative feature subsequently sparking debate online. The matter seemed to be cleared up for good, however, after podiatrist Sheldon Nadal gave his professional opinion.
“Is this really an extra toe?” Nadal wrote on the website Footcare. “The answer is probably not. It appears that Oprah has what I, as a Toronto foot specialist, would refer to as a splay-type foot. This means that the long bones, or metatarsals, spread apart like a fan when she walks.”
Nadal continued, “The toes then go the opposite way: they point inward. In Oprah’s case, this has resulted in a large bump on the big toe-side of the foot – called a bunion – and another large bump on the baby-toe side of the foot – called a tailor’s bunion or bunionette.”
And Nadal explained why people could easily confuse these features with polydactyly. “From the end view of the foot, the tailor’s bunion looks like an extra toe,” he wrote. “But if you looked at it from the top, you would see that it is actually a bump on the side of the foot – just behind the baby toe.”
“This [bump] can look from a distance like an extra toe,” Nadal added. And while Winfrey didn’t share the condition that Diggs and Arterton had, there were also options available to correct her issue. According to the foot specialist, the star could proceed in a couple of ways.
“Non-surgical therapy involves wearing custom foot orthotics in comfortable shoes,” Nadal wrote on the Footcare website. “They improve the mechanics of the feet and help to delay or prevent foot problems. However, in Oprah Winfrey’s case, it must be very difficult to wear shoes comfortably due to her foot deformities.”
With that in mind, Nadal made his final suggestion. “[Winfrey] could benefit from minimally invasive foot surgery or minimal incision surgery, which I perform in my Toronto foot clinic with local anesthetic,” he added. “Podiatrists have developed specialized instruments that let us work through small openings in the foot.”
As for Diggs, he continued to flourish on both the small and big screens following his polydactyly revelation. And after Private Practice ultimately came to an end in 2013, he returned once again to movies with a part in comedy Baggage Claim.
Diggs kept up his television career, too, by making a brief appearance in New Girl. He then rounded off his 2013 by starring in The Best Man Holiday, the long-awaited sequel to The Best Man. But while the actor may have been forgiven for taking a break in 2014, he did no such thing.
Diggs showed up in two TV shows that year, in fact. Taking on the character of Dean Levine-Wilkins, he appeared in four episodes of acclaimed drama The Good Wife; he also bagged the lead role in a new series, titled Murder in the First.
And Diggs went on to star in more than 30 episodes of Murder in the First prior to the drama’s end in 2016. His subsequent role in Empire was similarly long-lasting; he portrayed aspiring mayor Angelo Dubois in over 20 episodes of the Fox series before leaving in 2017.
It seems, then, that Diggs is a long way away from calling time on his career. Indeed, the performer continues to make appearances on screen in 2019; in the live version of Rent broadcast on Fox that year, for instance, he made a cameo alongside his former Broadway castmates. Beyond that, he’s set to star in a future film titled While You Were Dancing.