Joe Cole

In Matt Smith’s haunting directorial debut, Cargese, the perpetual grin of Joe Cole provides a portrait of skewed morality that most actors take a lifetime to successfully evoke. That it came so early in his career is testament to the talent of an actor whose recent run of performances have established him as “One to Watch”

That particular tagline doesn’t really do him justice though, especially as his recent activity includes work on the Emmy-winning The Hour and the elegant and gruesome Peaky Blinders.

Cole isn’t just “One to Watch”, he’s one to admire, one about to explode.

Despite piercing eyes and cheekbones that cut could glass, Cole’s propensity to opt for uncomfortable and uncompromising roles render him as anything but a typical star. His sited admiration for fellow Brit Tom Hardy might give an indication of the potential trajectory of the young actor.

That is to say that there is a ruthless streak evident in his current dramatic output that sees Cole consistently involved in innovative or original projects.

One of those projects is Peaky Blinders.

On Peaky Blinders, Cole, 24, plays John, the youngest member of Birmingham’s foremost feared family, The Shelbys, with a wild blend of sharp-suited bluster and dangerous doe-eyes. Widowed and weary but still laced with the cold malice that the Peaky Blinders built their reputation on, it’s an enormously mature performance that holds up against Hollywood heavyweights Sam Neil and Cilian Murphy and comes to represent a crucial part of the narrative arc.

Working alongside the likes of Smith, Neil and Murphy will only enhance the credibility afforded to Joe with the next co-megastar on the horizon Breaking Bad’s Aaron Paul, in a film adaptation of Nick Hornby’s A Long Way Down. As well as this Cole has just completed filming Pressure, a film about a group of divers who get stuck under water in their diving bell when a storm on the ocean surface sinks their mother ship. Another genre, and a genuine thriller for Cole to sink his teeth into then, but for Cole pressure is only the title, not an overriding concern.

The time to print out pictures of him, declaring the rising star as your new favourite actor, is probably now.