We’ll forgive you if you don’t know the name Joel Edgerton right off the bat. But you probably like him already. The commanding actor who upstaged Johnny Depp in gangster movie Black Mass? Him. The science teacher turned MMA fighter who made you cry buckets in Warrior? Him again. Yet despite these impressive credits—he’s also had meaty roles in The Great Gatsby and Zero Dark Thirty—the 41-year-old Aussie still holds the “that guy from that thing” status. But expect that to change this year after the releases of two films by ace director Jeff Nichols (Mud, Take Shelter).
First up is Midnight Special, a minimalist sci-fi film starring Michael Shannon that was immediately attractive for Edgerton’s character-over-showy-effects sensibilities. “Sometimes you pick up a screenplay and genuinely don’t know what’s going to happen next,” says Edgerton. “That was the feeling I got from Midnight Special. The special effects took a backseat. It reminded me of Close Encounters of the Third Kind in a really good way.” After that he’ll star in Nichols’s much different Loving, which just wrapped shooting in Virginia and chronicles the real-life tale of an interracial couple sentenced to jail in the ’50s just for getting married. Before those billboards with Edgerton’s face are erected, though, here’s some cool stuff to know about him.