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The District-born, St. Albans-educated Jeffrey Wright may have chosen to be more character actor than leading man since his breakout performance as the titular artist in 1996’s Basquiat.

But he’s sure been a busy one: This fall alone, you can see Wright portray a reticent Colin Powell (W.), an even more reticent CIA agent (Quantum of Solace), and now blues legend Muddy Waters in the upcoming Cadillac Records, the story of ’50s-era R&B artists that’s predominantly gotten buzz for Beyonce‘s turn as Etta James.

That’s OK, though — Ms. Knowles can bring ’em, while Wright will simply knock their socks off like the less glitzy but equally talented workhorse that he is.

Listen to NPR’s interview with Wright, then catch Cadillac this Friday.