Aquaman hits theaters today and while the DC comic book adaptation is all about the hero saving the day, we’ve got our eyes on the villain.
Yahya Abdul-Mateen II is starring as Black Manta, his latest juicy role that he’s snagged this year. He’s also been cast in Jordan Peele’s upcoming thriller US, and the drama Sweetness in the Belly opposite Dakota Fanning.
Get familiar with this talented newcomer with five things you should definitely know about Abdul-Mateen.
1. His Name Is Common In Arabic
Growing up with a Muslim father and a Christian mother, it comes as no surprise that the 32-year-old actor has a very common name in the Muslim world. Yahya is Arabic and literally translates to John The Baptist, who’s a well known prophet in Christianity and Islam. Still, it can also signify an elder in the community or a leader. Sounds about right.
2. He’s No Stranger To A Day Job
During an exclusive interview with the New Hollywood podcast, Abdul-Mateen revealed that before he committed to pursuing acting full-time, he used his architecture degree to serve as a city planner in San Francisco.
3. He’s A Classically-Trained Actor
Like Angela Bassett, David Alan Grier, and Lupita Nyong’o, Abdul-Mateen studied at the prestigious Yale School of Drama. It’s no wonder that he’s able to play such a range of roles.
4. You’ve Definitely Seen Him Before
Before being cast in this superhero-themed blockbuster, the New Orleans native appeared in Baywatch and The Greatest Showman.
But it was his breakout performance as the disco-dancing Cadillac in Netflix’s now-canceled The Get Down that placed him on the path to leading man status.
5. He’s The Baby Of The Family
Abdul-Mateen grew up as the youngest of six brothers and sisters, so he’s used to getting lots of attention.