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Why Will From Only Looks So Familiar

Netflix finally has a hold of the post-apocalyptic romance (you read that right) that took the 2019 Tribeca Film Festival by storm (via Deadline). The film is entitled Only, and after spending many months in distribution limbo, it started streaming free to watch for all subscribers on July 5. Only did receive a limited theatrical run beginning on March 6, 2020, but the impending pandemic that ultimately brought the entire industry to a screeching halt made it so very few viewers actually caught this one on the big screen.

Only follows Will and Eva, two survivors driven into hiding after a passing comet releases a virus that kills off most of the world's women. Our two protagonists are lovers, and Eva manages to survive the initial outbreak thanks to their hermetically sealed home. The plot bears some vague similarities to Alfonso Cuarón's Children of Men, but really you can think of it like a gender-swapped version of Brian K. Vaughan's iconic comic series Y: The Last Man.

The sci-fi flick is much more intimate than the epic VFX affairs that usually dominate the post-apocalyptic genre. This is not Mad Max: Fury Road. It isn't even The Road. It's more akin to Z is for Zachariah, an oft-overlooked 2015 film starring Margot Robbie, Chiwetel Ejiofor, and Chris Pine with a similarly claustrophobic premise. As such, Only's considerable appeal derives largely from the quality performances delivered by its two lead actors. Freida Pinto is radiant in the role of Eva, and she's matched scene-for-scene by her romantic co-star, an actor whose face and voice have become ubiquitous in recent years.

The role of Will is played by the multi-talented Leslie Odom Jr., and this is why he looks so familiar.

Leslie Odom Jr. is a Tony Award-winning Broadway performer

Leslie Odom Jr. was willing to wait for it, and eventually show business gave him his big shot. This triple-threat performer will forever be remembered as the original Aaron Burr (sir) from Lin-Manuel Miranda's hit Broadway musical Hamilton. As Odom Jr.'s character points out in his soulful valediction, he's the villain in our histories. He's also the villainous foil to Miranda's Alexander Hamilton, the immigrant hero of this revisionist take on American history.

Odom Jr.'s debut as former vice president and duel-enthusiast Aaron Burr allowed the actor to show off all of his considerable gifts. His performance in Hamilton is one for the ages, a feat so impressive that he outshone the rest of the musical's all-star cast, claiming the 2016 Tony Award for Best Actor in a Musical (via IMDb). Later that year, Odom Jr. also went on to win a Grammy for Best Musical Theater Album as a vocalist.

Aaron Burr is — without a doubt — the role that Odom Jr. will forever be remembered for, but it's far from the only notable appearance over the course of his substantial career.

Leslie Odom Jr. was in a less popular musical, too

Oh, Smash. You left us before your time.

Prior to Hamilton, Leslie Odom Jr. had the chance to show off his golden pipes in a far less beloved venture. The musical television series Smash only lasted two seasons, but this soapy drama with integrated musical numbers about an ill-fated Marilyn Monroe play called Bombshell definitely made an impact. You might recognize Odom Jr. from his memorable ensemble role on this much-loathed series, even though the actor would probably rather you didn't. At least he didn't have to wear any of Debra Messing's terrible scarves.

We're not quite sure the Katharine McPhee-starring TV project deserves all the disdain that it gets, but it's hard to deny that Smash became pretty much synonymous with the hate-watching phenomenon when it debuted in 2012. After the success of Ryan Murphy's Glee, everyone was trying to crack the musical television formula. A musical show about Broadway musicals should have been a no-brainer, but Smash just didn't resonate. 

The show didn't earn Odom Jr. any awards, but his performance as featured dancer Sam Strickland certainly put him on the map, and may have even been a direct stepping stone to his turn as Burr in Hamilton. For that, at least, we should all thank this camp classic from creator Theresa Rebeck.

Leslie Odom Jr. got his start on police procedurals

Leslie Odom Jr. has been kicking around the entertainment industry much longer than you might even realize. Before Smash or Hamilton or any of his big successes, he was a hard-working TV actor paying his dues on a pair of long-running procedurals.

A young Odom Jr. got his first big break as a Florida man on CSI: Miami, a spinoff series of CSI: Crime Scene Investigation. Starting in 2003, the actor played the role of Joseph Kayle, a popular guest spot that he would reprise eight more times over three different seasons.

After making his series departure from CSI in 2006, Odom Jr.'s career really started to take off, but he wasn't quite done with the police beat yet. In 2013, he returned to the procedural game, landing the recurring role of Reverend Curtis Scott on Dick Wolf's popular Law & Order: Special Victims Unit. Odom Jr.'s politically active holy man appeared on seven episodes of SVU, and ended his extended run with the topical episode entitled "Community Policing" in 2015.

Since Hamilton is more-or-less the biggest thing to ever happen in the history of entertainment, we're guessing Leslie Odom Jr. has an amazing career ahead of him. Here's looking forward to whatever he gets into next.