Most American audiences know Chiwetel from his small part in Love Actually; he played the groom to Keira Knightley's blinding ultra-white toothy smile. Americans who don't know him from that probably know him from playing the antagonist in Serenity, where he almost single-handedly managed to outshine Nathan Fillion and crew. He played the lead in last year's Sundance hit Kinky Boots, where he literally walked away with the entire film. If you haven't seen Kinky Boots, I can't recommend it enough, last year I found myself liking it despite the predictable storyline and the hit-you-over-the-head message. This guy has so much charisma that he should be marketing and selling what's left over.

Although classically trained as a Shakespearean actor in the UK, his first film role was in Spielberg's 1997 Amistad. Since then he's also been seen in Dirty Pretty Things, She Hate Me, Four Brothers and Melinda and Melinda. He had four major film roles in 2005, and so far this year he's been in both Inside Man and Children of Men, which isn't too shabby. He has four big projects lined up in 2007, including two that pair him with Don Cheadle, and he can be seen in HBO's Tsunami: The Aftermath on Sunday, December 10.

Chiwetel ("Chewie," to his friends and Han Solo) is one of those actors who can be difficult to describe. He really has a commanding screen presence, but he doesn't have the forced "I'm the star!" quality of someone like Russell Crowe. He's more quiet and imposing without chewing up the scenery. He's played both a a cross-dressing drag queen (is that redundant? Like, a drag queen who dresses like a man? I think I just confused myself) and an interstellar bounty hunter in equally convincing and different manners. It's hard to be the Scene Stealer when you're not someone who tries to completely fill the screen with your presence, like Alan Rickman and Parker Posey do pretty well, but Chiwetel (I know that sounds like I'm on a first-name basis with the guy, but it sounded better than typing Ejiofor over and over) pulls it off in every role he's been in so far. Here's hoping he'll keep his streak running.

Besides, when's the last time we've been rooting for someone named Chewie that wasn't covered in fur?
CATEGORIES Features, Cinematical