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Mexican actor Demian Bichir drew major notice earlier this year as the long shot in the Oscar race for Best Actor. Facing off against favorites Jean Dujardin (The Artist) and George Clooney (The Descendants), Bichir was the undisputed underdog not so much because he was the least well-known of the contenders—which also included Moneyball's Brad Pitt and Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy's Gary Oldman—but because his film, A Better Life, had drawn little notice outside of praise for Bichir. In the drama, he played an illegal immigrant who works diligently—though off the grid—in East L.A. to secure a better life for his teenaged son. It was a subtle but solid performance that rightly drew him notice, including a role in Oliver Stone's upcoming Savages. But after so much pathos and drama, it seems Bichir wants to mix things up with something wild.

Variety reports that Bichir will join to two thrilling new projects, one being William Friedkin's Trapped, and the other Robert Rodriguez's exploitation-inspired action feature Machete Kills. Sequel to the Danny Trejo-fronted Machete, this soon-to-shoot schlock-fest has the titular hero teaming up with the U.S. government to take on a merciless arms dealer, embedded deep in Mexico, with aims to launch a devastating weapon into space. The role of this insane criminal was rumored to go to Mel Gibson, but details on Machete Kills are being closely guarded so the part Bichir is to play is presently unknown. However, Trapped's sources are being slightly less mysterious about their in-development effort, revealing Bichir will play an Israeli operative in the indie thriller, though its plot line is currently under wraps.

Even with few details to go on, these seem intriguing opportunities for Bichir. Sure, Machete Kills is going to be a deeply goofy and gory outing, but it could prove a chance for Bichir to show his skills in the action realm. As for Trapped, Friedkin is notorious for pushing the boundaries of audience expectation and acceptable movie mores, from The Exorcist to his latest effort, the controversial Killer Joe. So, it's a shrewd move on Bichir's part to get into bed with so risky a filmmaker. At this year's Oscars he was a new face with nothing to lose, but now that Hollywood has their eye on him, it's a smart move to show he's a fearless performer who can tackle whatever is thrown his way.

Machete Kills will go into production in early June; Trapped is expected to shoot in early 2013.

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