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Why Darius From Atlanta Looks So Familiar

Over the course of its run on FX, "Atlanta" has set itself apart in a number of ways, from its David Lynch-esque storytelling techniques to its inconsistent release schedule. After a lengthy wait, Donald Glover's hit series has finally returned to the network for its third season – with the fourth season (per The Hollywood Reporter) set to cap off the series' run later this year.

One of the major fan-favorite characters from "Atlanta" who has been part of the show since its earliest days is Darius. As one of the stranger members of the main ensemble, Darius is Paper Boi's (Brian Tyree Henry) close friend and an avid fan of guns. If Darius looks familiar, that's because he is portrayed by LaKeith Stanfield, one of Hollywood's most fascinating rising stars, with several more upcoming projects already in the works (via IMDb). But his part in "Atlanta" is far from his only recognizable role to date — you might also have seen him in any one of these highlights from his list of credits.

He broke out in Short Term 12

One of the earliest roles that audiences may recognize LaKeith Stanfield from is his performance as Marcus in "Short Term 12." Directed by "Shang-Chi and The Legend of The Ten Rings" filmmaker Destin Daniel Cretton, the 2013 film explores the lives of the inhabitants of a home for troubled youths, one of whom is Marcus. "Short Term 12" is based on a 2008 short of the same name, also directed by Cretton, with Stanfield being the only actor from the short to also appear in the feature-length version of the film (per IMDb).

"Short Term 12" stands out not only as a masterclass in indie filmmaking but also as a masterclass in casting as well. That's because the film ultimately helped to serve as a launching pad for numerous contemporary movie star careers. In addition to LaKeith Stanfield, the film's cast also includes such notable names as "Captain Marvel" star Brie Larson, "No Time to Die" star Rami Malek, "Booksmart" actress Kaitlyn Dever, and "10 Cloverfield Lane" actor John Gallagher Jr., among others.

He was kidnapped and experimented on in Get Out

In the years since "Get Out" hit the horror scene in 2017, it has turned into a calling card movie for director Jordan Peele. Though once primarily known as a comedic filmmaker, he has since parlayed the success of "Get Out" into a notable career as one of horror's defining auteurs. Since his work on "Get Out," he has also released the hit horror film "Us" in 2019 and is currently gearing up for the release of his new movie "Nope" later this year.

LaKeith Stanfield worked with Peele on the first of these films, playing dual roles in "Get Out." As one of the first characters to appear on screen in the movie, he portrays Andre Hayworth — a young black man who is abducted and experimented on prior to the events of the main storyline unfolding. The other role he performs in the movie is that of Logan King, an aging white man who steals Andre's body and has his consciousness transplanted into it.

He investigated the murder in Knives Out

Following his work in the big-budget franchise world with "The Last Jedi," director Rian Johnson pivoted to the comparatively smaller budget "Knives Out" in 2019. The film was a hit with critics and audiences, currently holding scores above 90% on Rotten Tomatoes, and much of that success stemmed from the inclusion of numerous outlandish characters. That said, every colorful ensemble needs a straight man to balance out the equation, which is precisely the role played by LaKeith Stanfield's Detective Lieutenant Elliott. Elliot (along with Noah Segan's Trooper Wagner) is dispatched to investigate the apparent murder of Harlan Thrombey (Christopher Plummer) before handing off the investigation to Benoit Blanc (Daniel Craig).

"Knives Out" proved to be a major success at the box office when it debuted, earning (per Box Office Mojo) over $300 million against a $40 million budget. Given the success, a sequel was greenlit, with "Knives Out 2" expected to hit theaters in 2022. However, there is currently no indication that Stanfield will return for the next mystery.

He was a small-time crook in Uncut Gems

"Knives Out" wasn't LaKeith Stanfield's only project in 2019. Following up on their critically-acclaimed film "Good Time," the Safdie brothers teamed up with comedian Adam Sandler for "Uncut Gems." The film stars Sandler as a gambling-addicted jewelry store owner who gets himself increasingly in over his head, compelled to take more and more dangerous bets just to keep himself afloat. Though Sandler ultimately ended up not receiving an Oscar nomination for his work in the film (arguably viewed as a snub), the film serves as a notable example of how good the "Happy Gilmore" star can be outside of traditional, broad comedies.

In "Uncut Gems," LaKeith Stanfield stars as Demany, a small-time crook and associate to Sandler's Howard Ratner, namely by providing the watches that Howard sells in his store. Demany is responsible for introducing Howard to basketball star Kevin Garnett — who takes a liking to Howard's rare Ethiopian opal, setting in motion the series of events that ultimately lead to Howard's unexpected death at the end of the movie.

He became a romantic lead in The Photograph

But LaKeith Stanfield's successful career is based on more than playing eccentric characters. In 2020, he took on what could be considered one of the more traditional leading man roles on his resumé. Specifically, Stanfield appeared in Stella Meghie's "The Photograph" opposite Issa Rae. The film explores a romance between a photographer (Rae) and a journalist (Stanfield), who is investigating the death of the photographer's mother and the legacy she has left behind for her daughter.

"The Photograph" debuted in theaters on February 14, 2020, making it one of the last major films to hit the big screen before the formal onset of the COVID-19 pandemic in the United States. Per Box Office Mojo, the film earned just over $20 million at the worldwide box office. That said, reviews for "The Photograph" were arguably stronger than the box office performance would indicate, with the film earning a "Certified Fresh" 75% rating from critics on Rotten Tomatoes while also earning an 81% approval rating from audiences. But even more critical acclaim was to come for Stanfield's work the following year.

He was nominated for an Oscar for Judas and the Black Messiah

One of LaKeith Stanfield's most recognizable roles is also in one of his most prestigious films to date. Specifically, he took on the role of FBI informant Bill O'Neal in Shaka King's "Judas and the Black Messiah." Based on real-life events, the film follows O'Neal as he infiltrates the Black Panther Party to gain intel on Fred Hampton (Daniel Kaluuya), and it explores the fallout as the FBI increasingly uses O'Neal to destroy the revolutionary group.

"Judas and the Black Messiah" turned out to be a major awards contender following its release. The film went to the 2021 Academy Awards with nominations for best picture, best supporting actor for LaKeith Stanfield, best supporting actor for Daniel Kaluuya, best original screenplay, best cinematography, and best original song. In the end, however, Stanfield did not win his Oscar, with the film only taking home best supporting actor for Daniel Kaluuya and best original song. But the loss doesn't appear to have damaged Stanfield's career — in addition to watching him finish out his role on "Atlanta," fans can look forward to seeing him in several upcoming projects, including the horror-comedy "Haunted Mansion" alongside Tiffany Haddish, Rosario Dawson, and Owen Wilson, currently slated for release in 2023.