Daniel Kaluuya: the rise and rise of the Queen & Slim star

From Get Out to Black Panther, British actor Daniel Kaluuya has enjoyed an incredible rise to super-stardom over the last couple of years. And this month, he’s back in slick outlaw drama Queen & Slim, a contemporary updating of the classic Bonnie and Clyde story.

We’re taking a look back at some of Kaluuya’s best performances so far, and how he’s steadily risen through the ranks to become one of the most exciting actors working today…

He started off on the small screen

Before making a name for himself on the big screen, Daniel Kaluuya featured in a string of small-screen roles under his belt. As well as minor parts in BBC crime drama Silent Witness and Doctor Who, he had a recurring part in Channel 4 teen drama Skins, playing 'Posh Kenneth'.

He also had a leading part in Black Mirror episode Fifteen Million Merits and appeared in the BBC’s short-lived supernatural fantasy series The Fades. Given his natural charisma, it was only a matter of time before he broke into Hollywood as well…

His early movie roles

Following a string of TV roles, Kaluuya landed himself parts in big screen blockbusters. In 2011 spoof Johnny English Reborn he played Agent Tucker, sidekick to Rowan Atkinson’s titular bumbling spy. Kaluuya later appeared in 2013’s Kick-Ass 2, playing super-villain Black Death, a leading member of the nefarious gang led by Red Mist (Christopher Mintz-Plasse).

It wasn’t until 2015’s Sicario, however, that he started to become a bit more of a household name. He starred alongside Emily Blunt in this nail-biting drug cartel thriller from director Denis Villeneuve, and the world started to sit up and take notice.

He was Oscar nominated for Get Out

The debut film from comedian turned writer-director Jordan Peele, Get Out is a creepy and hilarious mixture of satire and horror. It’s the unsettling story of a black man whose meeting with his white girlfriend’s family takes a horrifying turn, Peele skewering those white liberal families who “would have voted for Obama a third time”.

Kaluuya carries the entire film as the persecuted Chris, nailing the difficult balance between terror and laughs, and fashioning an entirely sympathetic character. This performance didn’t go unnoticed either, earning him an Oscar nomination and the EE Rising Star BAFTA award.

He joined the MCU, and later stole the show in Widows

Kaluuya then joined the likes of Chadwick Boseman, Lupita Nyong’o and Michael B. Jordan in the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU) with Black Panther.

A film that broke box office records left, right and centre, Black Panther also made history at the Oscars, becoming the first superhero movie to be nominated for Best Picture, although Kaluuya’s role was overlooked. To be able to stand out in such a huge and talented cast is no easy feat, but as W’Kabi, the (mostly) loyal friend to the eponymous Black Panther/T’Challa, Kaluuya proved to be a favourite.

From hero to villain: Kaluuya’s next role saw him working with acclaimed 12 Years A Slave director Steve McQueen in Widows. Kaluuya showed that he could invoke terror in his role as the creepy Jatemme, terrorizing the eponymous quartet as they seek to pull off the bank job intended for their deceased husbands. The critics took notice: Vulture wrote, "Kaluuya is deployed so precisely — and so perfectly — in Widows that he’s hard to look away from." 

Queen & Slim is out on the 31st of January

Kaluuya stars alongside screen newcomer Jodie Turner-Smith in slick drama Queen & Slim. It tells the story of a young couple whose first date takes an unexpected turn when they are pulled over by a police officer, leading to violent retribution and a vigilante odyssey that inspires an entire nation. 

Queen & Slim has been described as a modern-day Bonnie and Clyde story, bristling with themes of racism and prejudice that speak to our troubled climate. And reviewers have been impressed: BBC critic Caryn James describes Kaluuya as “spectacularly believable”. And our own Cineworld Unlimited members also heaped on the praise – click here to discover the Queen & Slim Unlimited reactions.

Queen & Slim is released in Cineworld cinemas on the 31st of January. Let us know your favourite Daniel Kaluuya roles @Cineworld.