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Earlier this week we found out that British actor Will Poulter has landed a lead role in Amazon’s upcoming The Lord of the Rings prequel series. Though we still know very little about the series, it’s already a big deal – it’s been reported that Amazon paid a massive $250 million for the global rights to J.R.R. Tolkien‘s source material, and plans to make a sprawling series that spans multiple seasons and even a spin-off.

For Poulter, the London-born son of Caroline, a former nurse, and Neil Poulter, a Professor of Preventive Cardiovascular Medicine at Imperial College London, it could be the role that makes him a household name. Since he made his screen debut in 2007, he’s already established himself as a versatile and often intense screen presence who’s reliably excellent in everything he does, from horror to comedy. Here’s a reminder of – and in some cases, maybe an introduction to – the roles that made him a “one to watch.”

Son of Rambow

Poulter was just 14 years old when he made his movie debut in this quirky coming-of-age flick from writer-director Garth Jennings, who later made computer-animated smash Sing. Poulter and Bill Milner (iBoy) play a couple of very different schoolboys – Milner’s is quiet and shy, Poulter’s disruptive and rebellious – who team up to make an amateur movie inspired by Sylvester Stallone‘s first outing as John Ranbo. Poulter isn’t the only future star in the cast; Gossip Girl‘s Ed Westwick and Sex Education‘s Asa Butterfield both appear in supporting roles.

The Chronicles of Narnia: The Voyage of the Dawn Treader

This fantasy movie based on C.S. Lewis‘s The Voyage of the Dawn Treader was only Poulter’s second movie. The classy ensemble cast includes Simon Pegg, Liam Neeson, and Tilda Swinton, but Poulter, 17 at the time, still makes a strong impression. He plays Eustace Scrubb, a bratty teenager who shakes off his bad attitude when he’s cursed and turned into a dragon! The movie grossed over $415 million at the global box office, and definitely cemented Poulter’s “one to watch” status.

We’re the Millers

Poulter shows off his comedy chops in this hit 2013 movie, more than holding his own in a stacked cast that includes Jennifer Aniston, Jason Sudeikis, Ed Helms, Kathryn Hahn, Emma Roberts, and Nick Offerman. He plays a socially awkward 18-year-old hired to pose as the son of a small-time drug dealer (Sudeikis) who’s trying to look like a family man so he can smuggle marijuana over the Mexican border. Poulter’s rendition of the TLC hit “Waterfalls” is a classic moment, and the following year he deservedly won the BAFTA Rising Star Award.

The Maze Runner and Maze Runner: The Death Cure

The Maze Runner movies, adapted from James Dashner‘s young adult novels of the same name, gave meaty lead roles to rising stars including Kaya Scodelario (Skins), Dylan O’Brien (Teen Wolf), Thomas Brodie-Sangster (Game of Thrones), and Jacob Latimore (Detroit). Poulter appears prominently in the first film as Gally, a bad guy who’s not all bad really, then reprises the role in last year’s third and final instalment.

The Revenant

Leonardo DiCaprio finally won an Oscar for his performance as an incredibly resilient frontiersman navigating 19th century Montana in this epic western from director Alejandro González Iñárritu. Tom Hardy was also nominated for his role as a duplicitous fur trapper who does the dirty on DiCaprio’s character. In a smaller but still pretty vital role, Poulter is impressive as a sensitive young fur trapper who embraces DiCaprio’s frontiersman as a father figure.

Black Mirror: Bandersnatch

Poulter appears in one of the most adventurous instalments of Black Mirror, last year’s interactive episode “Bandersnatch.” This feature-length story gives us, viewers at home, the power to decide how young video game programmer Stefan (Dunkirk‘s Fionn Whitehead) should progress with his life and career. Poulter plays Colin, a superstar programmer at Stefan’s video game company who introduces him to hallucinogens and conspiracy theories regarding alleged government mind-control programs. It’s a dark and charismatic role which Poulter inhabits perfectly.

Midsommar

This spooky folk horror movie has become one of 2019’s biggest word-of-mouth hits, and Poulter’s supporting role gives it a memorable extra dimension. Florence Pugh (The Little Drummer Girl) and Jack Reynor (A Royal Night Out) star as a young couple who travel to a remote Swedish village to experience a once-in-a-lifetime midsummer festival filled with strange and unsettling pagan rituals. But before things get properly scary, Poulter provides some light relief as Mark, their crass and kinda sleazy party-boy mate.

What’s your favorite Will Poulter role to date?

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Filed Under: Will Poulter
By Nick Levine