Jeffrey Wright Is The Most Overlooked Star In Hollywood

Jeffrey Wright is an award-winning star found in almost every franchise, and he deserves to be a leading man.

By Jonathan Klotz | Updated

jeffrey wright

How can a fantastic actor that is halfway to the EGOT (He has an Oscar and Tony), with appearances in massive franchises including The Hunger Games, James Bond, MCU, and DCU, be underrated? Somehow, Jeffrey Wright is still not a household name despite everyone recognizing his face from his many award-winning projects, covering every genre, from the street-artist biopic Basquiat to his turn as Commissioner Gordon in The Batman (via an impressive IMDb). A perpetual supporting star, it’s time that Hollywood makes Wright a leading man.

Not quite a character actor, but also not the face of a major film or series, Jeffrey Wright is in the same limbo as plenty of other actors, those that make you go, “Hey, I recognize that guy!” With an ability to play different types of roles, Wright has personified everything from the drug lord Peoples in Samuel L. Jackson‘s Shaft film to Colin Powell in the George Bush Jr biopic W., Bernard Lowe in Westworld, and even one of the apartment complex residents in M. Night Shyamalan’s Lady in the Water. Every time he shows up on screen, the award-winning star knows how to hold the viewer’s attention and make even the smallest characters seem of world-shattering importance.

Sometimes, Jeffrey Wright lands a role that seems primed for a mainstream breakout, from Dr. Valentine Narcisse in Boardwalk Empire to his part in HBO’s other hit series, Westworld. The former was only for one season, and the latter was cut short with the show’s cancellation. He is one of the best ensemble players working today, yet despite his scene-stealing performances in two HBO hits, he needs to start receiving top billing.

The same case can be made for Bruce Campbell, another ensemble all-star that was never given as many opportunities as he deserved. Campbell struck it big with Evil Dead, but then his shows, The Adventures of Briscoe County Jr. and Jack of All Trades, weren’t able to rise to the level of the leading man. Jeffrey Wright is finally getting another chance in Hollywood with one of his three upcoming films, finally putting him back as the headliner.

Anthony Hopkins and Jeffrey Wright in Westworld

Erasure, a novel by Percival Everett, is being adapted into a film with Jeffrey Wright as the star, playing an English professor struggling to release his latest novel, so he decides to make it a satire instead. It’s not the big-budget drama-thriller he deserves, but at least it’s something.

Jeffrey Wright will also be featured in the upcoming Marvel‘s What If….? Season 2, reprising his role as The Watcher, and he’ll be back in action as Commissioner Gordon for The Batman 2. Those are high-profile, well-deserved roles, but after consistently delivering amazing performances in his over 30 years in Hollywood, it’s about time major projects are moving him closer to centerstage. This should have happened after Angels in America dominated awards season in 2003, but it’s better late than never.

The next time Jeffrey Wright’s new fans can catch him on the big screen will again be part of an ensemble. Still, it’s in Wes Anderson’s Asteroid City, which puts him shoulder to shoulder with Tom Hanks, Scarlett Johansson, Edward Norton, and Jeff Goldblum, among many others. Don’t be surprised if, again, it’s Wright that can hold the audience’s attention with the least dialogue.

Now what will it take for Marvel to cast Jeffrey Wright as The Blue Marvel?