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Why Thomas Harp From Outside The Wire Looks So Familiar

For as many sci-fi action films as there are out there, not many can claim to have topped the Netflix charts like Outside the Wire did. Set in the not-so far-flung future of 2036, it chronicles the story of Lt. Thomas Harp (Damson Idris), a drone pilot for the U.S. military who lacks field experience. He's forced to face the realities of war after he defies his higher-ups by sacrificing several soldiers to save the lives of many others. An android named Captain Leo (Anthony Mackie) takes charge of the young man, and together, they tackle a dangerous mission while coming to understand what it truly means to be a soldier, and what it truly means to be human.

It's pretty high-concept stuff (though it's interspersed with plenty of action to keep viewers glued to their screens), but one question may have you scratching your head more than anything else: "Where the heck have I seen Damson Idris before?" Here's why he looks so familiar.

Idris plays a Saint on Snowfall

Snowfall is an ambitious show, to say the least. Set in 1983 Los Angeles, with a drug epidemic ravaging the city in every way — social policy, law enforcement, daily life, you name it — it follows the lives of several major characters. There's Gustavo "El Oso" Zapata (Sergio Peris-Mencheta), a Mexican luchador. There's Lucia Villanueva (Emily Rios), the niece of a drug kingpin. There's Teddy McDonald (Carter Hudson), an undercover CIA agent. And then there's Idris' Franklin Saint, a young drug dealer.

Idris had worked on television shows before, appearing in one-episode guest roles on the likes of Miranda, Casualty, and Doctors, but Snowfall marks his breakthrough into the mainstream. His performance as Franklin has garnered him much critical acclaim, and rightfully so. The character's downward spiral is difficult to watch (in a good way) — indeed, he starts out as a decent kid, but becomes warped by racial prejudice, the expectations of the people in his life, and the nature of the drug trade. The series' fourth season was delayed by COVID-19, but is set to premiere in 2021. The sooner the better, because... well, let's just say Franklin's position at the end of season 3 is precarious.

Idris embraces a grim reality in Farming

Word of Damson Idris' talent spread as Snowfall continued to air, and his resume grew. After appearing in the minor role of Special Agent Denys in the Liam Neeson-led The Commuter, Idris starred as the leading man in Farming. The title sounds innocent enough, but Idris' character Enitan arguably leads an even more dangerous life than Franklin Saint does.

In the 1960s, a Nigerian family sends their son Enitan to a foster family in London, hoping the new setting and different upbringing will lead to greater opportunities than he otherwise would have had. The transition is known as "farming," hence the title. Unfortunately, things don't turn out quite the way Enitan's parents hoped — in fact, they take the worst possible turn. Enitan's foster mother Ingrid Carpenter (Kate Beckinsale) sets him on a path that causes him to hate the color of his skin, and he ultimately becomes the leader of a white supremacist skinhead gang — a truly horrible fate for a boy whose birth parents only had the best of intentions.

The film is based on director Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje's own childhood, rehashed in painstaking detail in a way that's hard — but important — to watch. Idris received the Edinburgh International Film Festival award for Best Performance in a British Feature Film for his disturbingly vivid work.

Idris's fate was changed on The Twilight Zone

Based on the original series of the same name, 2019's The Twilight Zone is an anthology show that explores a number of issues through a number of fantastical genres, from science fiction to horror. The first season's third episode, "Replay," focuses on the mother-son relationship between Nina (Sanaa Lathan) and Dorian Harrison (Idris), the Twilight Zone element being a camcorder she can use to turn back time. She first rewinds to before Dorian accidentally squirts ketchup on his shirt at a diner, unbeknownst to him, but the stakes ramp up soon enough.

Their meal over, they return to the road, continuing their journey to bring Dorian to college, but are pulled over by one Officer Christopher Lasky (Glenn Fleshler), who they'd previously seen at the diner. The cop, clearly acting on a racist mindset, panics when he sees the camcorder. Luckily, Nina hits rewind before things get truly out of hand, but they remain faced with the problem of escaping Lasky's unwarranted attention and getting Dorian to school. No matter what Nina does after going back in time, it seems he ends up at their throats.

The solution, as it turns out, banks on not time manipulation and luck, but on turning to Nina's estranged brother Neil (Steve Harris). The episode becomes a touching lesson in compassion and the power of family, grounded by Lathan and Idris' performances.

Damson Idris was abducted on Black Mirror

The Twilight Zone's influence on Black Mirror is evident: both are anthology shows that examine social issues through the lens of genre fiction. Black Mirror, however, is largely committed to digging into one modern dilemma in particular: the short- and long-term effects of technology on the human race as individuals and as a collective. The conclusions it comes to are often unsettling because they hit so close to home, and the season 5 episode "Smithereens" is a perfect example.

Idris plays Jaden, a fresh-faced intern for a social media company called Smithereen. As it turns out, his rideshare driver Chris (Andrew Scott) has ample reason to hate the company, and kidnaps Jaden in the hopes that he can contact Smithereen CEO Billy Bauer (Topher Grace) through him. The resulting hostage situation and standoff are as tense as tense gets, thanks in large part to Idris' performance.

The talented young actor has done much to impress, and his future is looking bright. It'll definitely be interesting to see where Hollywood life takes him after Outside the Wire.