Ruth Negga, 35, already established herself as Hollywood’s most famous Ethiopia-born, Ireland-raised actress with her recurring role as the psychic character Raina on ABC’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. But we predict her fame will grow exponentially thanks to three very different projects: AMC’s just-debuted comic-book adaptation Preacher, the videogame-based film Warcraft (out June 10), and the Cannes sensation Loving. “I’d love to say I had the brains to have planned this — but no,” she laughs.
On Preacher, Negga plays Tulip O’Hare, the straight-talking, no-crap-taking ex-girlfriend of Dominic Cooper’s superpower-possessing titular character, Jesse Custer. Reversing Hollywood’s habit of “whitewashing” characters, the show’s executive producers — including Seth Rogen — cast Negga in the role despite Tulip being white in the comic. “Physically, there is a departure,” says the actress. “But I don’t think the spirit of her has changed at all — and I wouldn’t want it to.”
Real-life couple Negga and Cooper also costar in Warcraft, playing Lady Taria and King Llane Wrynn, rulers of the human realm whose lives are threatened by an army of tusked orcs. “He’s got a lovely energy on set,” the actress says of Cooper. “It’s great because when you know someone quite well, you feel very safe.”
In writer-director Jeff Nichols’ based-on-real-events Loving (out Nov. 4), Negga and Joel Edgerton play interracial couple Mildred and Richard Loving, who in 1964 mounted a legal battle against Virginia’s anti-miscegenation laws. “It’s time to celebrate them and what they achieved,” says Negga, whose performance has already sparked talk of an Oscar nomination. “It’s also just a beautiful love story—the most beautiful love story that’s ever been told, to be honest.”
You can see the trailer for Warcraft and a Negga-starring Preacher clip below.
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