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May 18, 2011 at 10:10 PM EDT

Australian actor Joel Edgerton will play Tom Buchanan in Baz Luhrmann’s adaptation of The Great Gatsby, replacing Ben Affleck, who dropped out to direct Argo. A spokesperson for the 36-year-old actor confirmed the deal, and Luhrmann told Deadline that Edgerton “could credibly be (as F. Scott Fitzgerald describes him) ‘one of the most powerful ends that ever played football at New Haven,’ had five-star acting chops and in the big dramatic showdown scenes between Gatsby and Tom, [and could] hold the screen against Leonardo DiCaprio.” This exclusive photo of Edgerton shows the actor in character as he works with Luhrmann on the project.

Edgerton, who’s been excellent in some smaller films, brings an unsettling intensity to all his performances. Back in 2009, he starred opposite Cate Blanchett in a Sydney production of A Streetcar Named Desire that later came to New York. In last year’s Animal Kingdom, he played a savvy insider to a suburban Aussie crime family. This September, he stars opposite Tom Hardy in the brawling-brother film, Warrior, and he’ll be the star of this year’s The Thing remake. Still, the role that most people remember him for is a bit part in Star Wars: Episode III — Revenge of the Sith, where he played a young Uncle Owen.

Going toe-to-toe with DiCaprio will be an enormous step up in class, and I mean that in the boxing parlance, not some social sense. He won’t loom over the six-foot DiCaprio like the taller Affleck would have, and currently lacks the resume and celebrity that would automatically establish him as DiCaprio’s onscreen equal. His previous work hints that he can bring the menace, but he’s going to have to fight for respect.

Do you think Edgerton has what it takes to be a believable threat to DiCaprio’s Gatsby? What have you seen him in that makes you think this is a genius move by Luhrmann?

Read more:

‘The Great Gatsby’ could be in 3-D, says Baz Luhrmann

Baz Luhrmann’s ‘Great Gatsby’ update: He’s now casting Jordan, he’ll reveal his research reading list on his website

Carey Mulligan set as Daisy; Who should play Jordan, Tom, and Myrtle in ‘The Great Gatsby’?

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