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Breakout actor: Idris Elba

The Brit has appeared in ”The Office” and ”Obsessed” and written music for Jay-Z

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Why He Might Look Familiar
In addition to starring in the hit film Obsessed, he had a six-show arc as newbie boss Charles on NBC’s The Office (he’ll return for the season finale in May). But the 36-year-old shrugs off the ”breakout” label: ”I feel like the oldest newcomer in the game.”

Good Cheer-io
The British actor also earned a big following playing the drug dealer Stringer Bell on HBO’s The Wire. ”People would come up to me and I’d break out in my London accent. And they’d be like, ‘Uh, man…can you talk like Stringer?’ And I’d be like, ‘Nah, mate. Go get me a cup of tea and some crumpets.”’

Music Man
Elba, who began his career as a DJ, produced and performed the intro to Jay-Z’s ’07 album, American Gangster, and has an EP due this summer. ”My sound is very much a hybrid between reggae, soul, jazz,” he says.

Action Hero?
Elba has acted in dramas (American Gangster), comedies (This Christmas), and horror (28 Weeks Later) — but no action films yet. ”I feel I owe the world Idris Elba running around in a wifebeater [with] bloodstains, in the middle of a big metropolis, jumping out of cars.”

What’s Next
He’ll play ”an elegant thief” opposite Hayden Christensen and T.I. in the 2010 thriller Takers. He’s also signed on for The Losers, based on a spy comic.