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I believe that we are witnessing one of the most fascinating success stories in Hollywood in recent years as Yahya Abdul-Mateen II continues to rise in fame and acclaim. Believe it or not, acting was only the second career choice for the supremely talented, award-winning, 35-year-old Candyman cast member and only became his main gig after he was laid off from his job as a city planner in San Francisco.
Well, it appears we have living proof that when one door closes, another opens, with this star of superhero movies and TV shows alike, which is where we will begin in our breakdown of his most notable credits thus far.
Watchmen (HBO Max)
Years after costumed vigilantes have become a thing of the past (and against the law, at that), a detective (Academy Award winner Regina King) decides to adopt her own superhero identity while investigating a group of white supremacists modeled after the infamous crime fighter Rorschach.
Why it’s worth checking out if you like Yahya Abdul-Mateen II: Without giving too much away, when Yahya Abdul-Mateen II joined HBO’s Watchmen cast, no one could have guessed the true identity of his Emmy-winning role, much like how few audiences could have expected the strength and powerful relevance of this 2019 miniseries continuation of Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons’ groundbreaking graphic novel from executive producer Damon Lindelof.
Aquaman (HBO Max)
After a man (Jason Momoa) discovers that he is of Atlantean descent, he struggles to accept his destiny as the heir to and protector of the underwater kingdom in order to save it from the tyrannical ruling of his evil half-brother (Patrick Wilson).
Why it’s worth checking out if you like Yahya Abdul-Mateen II: A year before starring in one of the most acclaimed DC TV shows of all time, Yahya Abdul-Mateen II played one of the main antagonists in one of the most commercially successful DC movies of all time, director James Wan’s Aquaman. He will return as Black Manta in the upcoming sequel, Aquaman and the Lost Kingdom, set for a 2022 release.
An experience lifeguard (Dwayne Johnson) from Emerald Bay, California, butts heads with his new, younger recruit (Zac Efron), until they decide to join forces in order to investigate a drug epidemic hitting the beach.
Why it’s worth checking out if you like Yahya Abdul-Mateen II: Before joining the Aquaman cast, Yahya Abdul-Mateen II took a dive into more humorous waters in the 2017, big screen reboot of Baywatch (only his second feature length acting gig) as a police officer who struggles to explain to Johnson, Efron, and Alexandra Daddario’s lifeguard characters why they have no authority to investigate a drug epidemic hitting the beach.
The Vanishing Of Sidney Hall (Showtime)
A detective (Kyle Chandler) embarks on a long journey to track down a best-selling author (Logan Lerman) after copies of his controversial debut novel are found as evidence in a string of destructive arsons across the country.
Why it’s worth checking out if you like Yahya Abdul-Mateen II: Yahya Abdul-Mateen II’s very first feature-length acting gig was Oscar-winning filmmaker Shawn Christensen’s A24-produced, 2017 drama, The Vanishing of Sidney Hall, in which he plays a former teacher of the title character who was quick pick up on his talents before his illustrious career as a writer began to take off.
The Get Down (Netflix)
In the late 1970s, a group of impoverished youths from the South Bronx pass the time by performing a new art form that would unwittingly change the face of music.
Why it’s worth checking out if you like Yahya Abdul-Mateen II: Yahya Abdul-Mateen II’s first big break as an actor came in 2016 in the form of Baz Lurhmann’s fictionalized exploration of the birth of hip-hop with Netflix’s The Get Down, in which he plays the dancing aspiring drug kingpin and night club owner Clarene “Cadillac” Caldwell.
The Greatest Showman (Disney+)
A man with a big heart and an even bigger imagination (Hugh Jackman) defies expectations by rounding up a band of “unique” performers to create a form of entertainment that would later define the modern day circus.
Why it’s worth checking out if you like Yahya Abdul-Mateen II: Yahya Abdul-Mateen II went from playing a disco-dancing criminal in The Get Down to one half of a brother-sister duo of trapeze artists (along with Zendaya) in The Greatest Showman - a stunning, Oscar-nominated musical that boasts a wonderfully inspirational message about acceptance, despite taking quite a few liberties about the kind of person P.T. Barnum really was.
The Trial Of The Chicago 7 (Netflix)
What was meant to be a peaceful protest of the Vietnam War in Chicago ends in a horrifying conflict with the police, leading a group of political activists to stand trial and prove their non-violent intentions in 1968.
Why it’s worth checking out if you like Yahya Abdul-Mateen II: In Oscar-winning writer and director Aaron Sorkin’s dazzling, fact-based Netflix original drama The Trial of the Chicago 7 - a more historically accurate biopic than The Greatest Showman by comparison - Yahya Abdul-Mateen II gives a stunning performance as real-life Black Panther Party founder Bobby Seale.
Black Mirror (Netflix)
A world in which points earned from playing video games count as actual currency, another in which your social media presence determines how you are accepted in society, and other frighteningly plausible futures are explored in creator Charlie Brooker’s brilliant anthology series that just barely counts as science fiction.
Why it’s worth checking out if you like Yahya Abdul-Mateen II: One of Yahya Abdul-Mateen II’s first forays into horror (so to speak) before starring in Candyman was his role as an old friend of Anthony Mackie’s character, whose relationship with one another takes an unexpected turn after he gives him an immersive virtual reality game, in one of the best Black Mirror episodes from Season 5 called “Striking Vipers.”
Us (Amazon Rental)
While on a summer getaway at a beach house in Santa Cruz, a woman (Lupita Nyong’o), her husband (Winston Duke), and their son (Evan Alex) and daughter (Shahadi Wright Joseph), are stalked and hunted by unexpected visitors who bear a hauntingly identical resemblance to them.
Why it’s worth checking out if you like Yahya Abdul-Mateen II: Yahya Abdul-Mateen II’s very first foray into horror and first collaboration with Candyman producer Jordan Peele was the Oscar-winning writer and director’s inventive, terrifying 2019 follow-up to Get Out, Us, in which Abdul-Mateen II stars as Russell, the father of Lupita Nyongo’s character…well, that’s one of the roles he plays, at least.
First Match (Netflix)
A young woman (Elvirre Emanuelle) channels her frustrations from living in foster care for most other life into a prodigious career on her high school’s boys wrestling team.
Why it’s worth checking out if you like Yahya Abdul-Mateen II: In Yahya Abdul-Mateen II’s first Netflix original film (and first collaboration with his Candyman co-star Colman Domingo), he plays the father of Elvire Emanuelle’s character (in her starring debut role as), Mo, whom he begins to have a more invested relationship with after she starts to take an interest in wrestling, in First Match - a powerful, coming-of-age sports movie and winning feature-length debut of writer and director Olivia Newman.
All Day And A Night (Netflix)
As a young man (Ashton Sanders) comes closer to achieving his dreams of becoming a rap musician, his involvement in a local gang war instead pushes him closer to ending up like his father (Jeffrey Wright), who was convicted of murder years earlier.
Why it’s worth checking out if you like Yahya Abdul-Mateen II: A more recent Netflix original film starring Yahya Abdul-Mateen II is All Day and a Night - a riveting, grounded drama from Black Panther co-writer Joe Robert Cole about how a hostile environment can interfere with one’s ambitions, in which the actor plays one-such influencer of hostility for our troubled main character.
Sweetness In The Belly (Starz)
An English-born woman (Dakota Fanning) who was abandoned by her parents in Ethiopia when she was a child is forced to return to her native country in the midst of a violent civil war, where she and an African refugee (Lovecraft Country cast member Wunmi Mosaku) collaborate on a mission to bring families estranged by the struggle back together.
Why it’s worth checking out if you like Yahya Abdul-Mateen II: Based on the novel by Camila Gibb, Sweetness in the Belly is a powerful fish-out-of water story in which Yahya Abdul-Mateen II plays an Ethiopian doctor who forms a romantic relationship with Dakota Fanning’s character.
In addition to his aforementioned role in Aquaman and the Lost Kingdom, Yahya Abdul-Mateen II has a pretty exciting line-up of upcoming roles. For instance, 2022 will also see the release of his latest Netflix original movie - a star-studded, Michael Bay-directed thriller called Ambulance - and he will star alongside Anya Taylor-Joy for the Mad Max: Fury Road prequel Furiosa in 2024. Arguably, though, his most exciting role is as Morpheus in The Matrix Resurrections, an iconic character previously portrayed by Laurence Fishburne.
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Jason has been writing since he was able to pick up a washable marker, with which he wrote his debut illustrated children's story, later transitioning to a short-lived comic book series and (very) amateur filmmaking before finally settling on pursuing a career in writing about movies in lieu of making them. Look for his name in almost any article about Batman.