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Why Joe From The Old Guard Looks So Familiar

The trailer for the Netflix original film The Old Guard has arrived, and it looks every bit as bonkers as the Image Comics series upon which it's based. Directed by The Secret Life of Bees' Gina Pryce-Bythewood from a script by Greg Rucka (the writer-creator of the Old Guard comics), the flick centers on a band of mercenaries who have an edge over others in their profession: They're all immortals, centuries-old and capable of healing from any injury. When it becomes apparent that somebody is onto them, hoping to replicate their abilities, the gang are forced to undertake a mission to protect their identities and keep their secret from being revealed to the world.

The Old Guard sports a crackerjack cast, including Mad Max: Fury Road's Charlize Theron as Andy, If Beale Street Could Talk's KiKi Layne as Nile, and Doctor Strange's Chiwetel Ejiofor as Copley. But there's one face among the group that you might have found to be oddly familiar: that of Joe, the bearded guy whose eyes look like they could burn holes in steel. The actor who plays him is named Marwan Kenzari, and while he's just starting to become a formidable force in the United States, it's pretty likely that you've seen him on the big screen within the last few years. 

Here's why Joe from The Old Guard looks so familiar.

Marwan Kenzari is a well-known actor in The Netherlands

Kenzari may be a star on the rise stateside, but if you happen to be Dutch, then you're definitely familiar with his earlier work. The actor is well-known in the Netherlands, having gotten his start all the way back in 2008 on the Dutch police drama series Flikken Maastricht and in the feature film Katia's Sister that same year. He spent the next several years quietly building his resume with featured parts in films like 2009's The Last Days of Emma Blank, 2010's Loft, and 2012's Black Out before scoring what would become his breakout role: the lead in 2013's Wolf, in which he portrayed Majid, a kick-boxer drawn into the dangerous world of underground fighting.

Wolf won Menzari the Netherlands' most prestigious acting award, the Golden Calf, which is presented annually at the Netherlands Film Festival. The actor would go on to appear in four more Dutch films in 2014 alone, but by this time, American film producers were taking notice of his abilities — and it wouldn't be too long before Hollywood came calling.

Marwan Kenzari made his Hollywood debut with a trio of features

Kenzari made his stateside debut in 2016 with a film that seemed like a pretty good idea on paper: Ben-Hur, a remake of the 1960 classic that has gone down in history as one of the most dangerous movies ever made. The 2016 version wasn't as hazardous to the health of its actors and stunt performers, and it also wasn't as good, becoming one of the biggest flops of its year. But it did afford Kenzari the opportunity to work on a big-budget Hollywood production with a talented cast, which included The Irishman's Jack Huston, Kong: Skull Island's Toby Kebbell, and the legendary Morgan Freeman.

That trend would continue with Kenzari's next stateside release, 2017's Collide. The actioner from writer-director Eran Creevy plopped Kenzari in the middle of a sterling cast that included Tolkien's Nicholas Hoult, Rogue One: A Star Wars Story's Felicity Jones, and the iconic Anthony Hopkins and Ben Kingsley. Later that year, Kenzari appeared in the historical drama The Promise, which saw him sharing the screen with the likes of the Star Wars sequel trilogy's Oscar Isaac, The Walk's Charlotte Le Bon, and former Batman star Christian Bale.

All of these flicks dropped within the space of about eight months, and while none of them set the world on fire, they proved to be great showcases for Kenzari's talents. Over the next few years, the movies he would appear in would keep getting bigger and bigger — although it would take a while for Kenzari to score a role in a film that was actually profitable.

The movies kept getting bigger for Marwan Kenzari

The next role Kenzari was offered proved to be quite a double-edged sword. He appeared as Malik in The Mummy, a mega-budget, Tom Cruise-starring adventure that was meant to launch the Dark Universe, an interconnected film franchise featuring studio Universal's classic monster properties. If you're even a casual film fan, you probably know how that went: The Mummy flopped so hard that it startled birds out of trees from coast to coast, and when it went down, it took the entire proposed slate of Dark Universe films with it. (Fortunately, Universal rebounded by teaming with Blumhouse to produce lower-budget, standalone features based on those classic properties, starting with 2020's successful The Invisible Man.)

Kenzari's string of stateside flops and underperformers came to an end when he was cast as Pierre Michel in Murder on the Orient Express, director Kenneth Branagh's rollicking adaptation of the classic Agatha Christie novel. Not only did Kenzari get to share the screen with the likes of Willem Dafoe, Johnny Depp, Daisy Ridley, and Dame Judi Dench (plus Branagh himself as Christie's iconic detective Hercule Poirot), but the flick was also well-received and a significant commercial hit.

Kenzari followed up that success with appearances in 2017's What Happened to Monday opposite Glenn Close and Dafoe, and scored the lead role in 2018's Israeli-American Netflix spy drama The Angel. But in 2019, he landed the gig that would give him his highest visibility yet — and if the body of work we've covered so far hasn't rung any bells, then we'll bet dollars to donuts that it's why the actor's face looks so familiar.

Marwan Kenzari was Jafar in the live-action Aladdin remake

Disney's live-action remakes of its classic properties have been a bit of a mixed bag so far, and Aladdin split critics right down the middle. It also raked in over a billion dollars at the worldwide box office, and handed Kenzari the juiciest role of his career: Jafar, the evil advisor to the Sultan, who has designs on ruling the Kingdom of Agrabah himself with a magical assist from the Genie's lamp. 

Kenzari's casting was just as divisive as Aladdin itself. Some observers felt that he didn't properly convey the oily menace of the animated film's original version, while others felt that he was simply too good-looking to make a proper Disney villain. (We're of the opinion that the live-action Aladdin was pretty darn delightful, and that Kenzari totally crushed it in the role of Jafar. When Aladdin 2 gets off the ground, the filmmakers would do well to ask him back.)

Next on tap for Kenzari is a return to the Netherlands, for a lead role in the Dutch war drama De Oost. While this is currently the only project he's known to have in the works, we're pretty sure that we'll be hearing a lot more from this talented and charismatic actor in the near future.