Courtesy of A24

Despite having not had much more than a handful of roles to his name, Will Poulter is one of the best and versatile actors today.  I was very happy to see he featured in recent horror, Midsommar, and he is one of a few actors I will watch any film in if his name is in the credits. So, I thought I’d take a look back at his brief career so far.

The actor was just fourteen at the release of Son of Rambo, which was his first featured acting role. It’s a brilliant movie about two school friends who get a camcorder and film their own version of Rambo.  Poulter, even in his first-ever role, shows so much charisma and perfect comic timing.  In fact director, Gareth Jennings said about him, “His instincts were just ridiculously good….I spent most of my days shaking my head in disbelief.”

Heading down the comedy route, Poulter was part of a group of children that played parts in “School of Comedy”.  A show which started at the Edinburgh Festival and then went on to have two series shown in the U.K. on the E4 channel.  The show is as unique and clever now as it was then, with children playing ‘adult’ characters in a show that was aimed at adults.  It’s still very funny and Poulter is fantastic in it.

His next role was something much bigger, a supporting character in the new Chronicles of Narnia movie – The Voyager of the Dawn Treader.  Playing the cousin to the two main characters, Poulter as Eustace Scrubb won several awards for his performance and the film was one of the highest-grossing of 2010.

A more serious role was next in Wild Bill, a movie that is much better than you’d expect.  From director Dexter Fletcher, who has since gone on to make the brilliant Eddie The Eagle and this year’s Elton John biopic, Rocketman, Wild Bill is a grounded British-based drama in which Poulter seemingly plays his first ‘grown-up’ role (even if his character is only fifteen).  He is once again a highlight of a movie that has plenty of them.

The actor had a role in the pilot for the very good and underseen show, “The Fades”, but did not feature in the rest of the series.  But, in the same year, he was discovered by a more mainstream audience for his performance in We’re The Millers.  Starring alongside Jennifer Anniston, Jason Sudekis and Emma Roberts, the film is a ridiculous but funny road trip where Poulter got to show off his always on point comedy work.  The movie features a scene that he is possibly best known for by some, in which he sings along to the TLC hit ‘Waterfalls’.

A couple of more low-key roles were up next in Glassland and Plastic.  Glassland the more critically acclaimed of the two and one that started future links.  He stars alongside Jack Reynor, who also features in Midsommar, and Toni Collette, who is the star of Midsommar director, Ari Aster’s debut movie, Hereditary.

Credit: IMDB

But another big-budget movie was around the corner.  I remember watching The Maze Runner for the first time and being surprised at how good it was.  But when Poulter showed up, for me personally, it felt like the movie instantly became a bit more credible.  The film was a huge success at the box office and Poulter returned in the same role in the final installment of the trilogy – The Death Cure.

In 2014 Poulter won the British Academy Rising Star Award (that year beating Lupita N’yongo to the trophy) and putting his name alongside previous winners such as Tom Hardy, Shia LaBeouf, and James McAvoy.

Big directors and films would continue for Poulter who starred alongside Leonardo DiCaprio and Tom Hardy in Alejandro G. Innarritu’s The Revenant.  An amazing and stunning movie where Poulter plays the mostly innocent and scared Bridger, an important role in which he is perfectly cast.  This cemented his place for many people as an actor at the top of his game and he certainly didn’t look out of place alongside some of the world’s best actors.

Heading back to his more indie film roots, Poulter was the lead in another British drama Kids In Love before moving straight on to another couple of huge movies.  Netflix’s satirical war movie War Machine has an insane cast alongside Poulter – Brad Pitt, Ben Kingsley, Tilda Swinton, Scoot McNairy, Topher Grace, Russell Crowe and many more.  Netflix paid a lot of money for this part comedy part drama, with the cast making it a must-watch.  Next up for the British star was Oscar-winner Kathryn Bigelow’s Detroit.  Playing a racist cop named ‘Krauss’, Poulter is incredible in a role you almost can’t imagine him in.  But he, of course, plays it in the most brilliant way, showing his amazing diversity as an actor.

The last couple of years have seen Poulter reprise his role in The Maze Runner, take on perhaps his most diverse role as the disfigured Roddy in horror-drama The Little Stranger, in which he is also the highlight of, and play a lead in Netflix’s first interactive movie – Bandersnatch (part of the “Black Mirror” franchise).  A role which led him to take a break from twitter “in the interest of my mental health”.  While this month sees the release of Ari Aster’s Midsommar, a brilliant, beautiful and haunting horror movie, Poulter offers some of the much-needed light relief to take the edge off in the film.  It’s a more subtle role than we’re used to seeing from him, but he’s great again.

Unfortunately for horror fans, Poulter hasn’t featured too much in the genre, although he very nearly played a huge part in it.  When Cary Fukunaga was announced as Director for IT CHAPTER ONE, Poulter was cast as the evil clown Pennywise.  I for one was very very excited but, when the director left the project, so did Poulter.  The delayed movie meant it clashed with his filming of Detroit.  Bill Skarsgård obviously did a more than an amazing job in the role, but I still would have loved to see what Poulter could have done with the character.

Other than the short film Bainne, Poulter has nothing lined up for this year or next.  The only projects that he hasn’t been involved with, even at just 26 years old, seem to be big franchises like Star Wars or something superhero related.  Obviously, I’d love him feature in more genre, especially as a villain as we were teased with IT, but whatever he does, I will be first in line to see it.

Alain Elliott

Alain is a freelance writer and a serial bigamist of hobbies.Alongside football (or 'soccer' for you American types), all things Nintendo, loud (and occasionally quiet) music, great books on every subject and Christmas, he mostly appreciates all things weird and horrific. From reading the strangest of creepy books to watching the goriest spectacles that TV and film have to offer, and everything in between.He will tell you why there's something to love in all of it.
Alain Elliott
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