Rising Star: Joel Edgerton

Joel Edgerton attends the premiere of 'Warrior' at the Arclight Hollywood in Hollywood, Calif. on September 6, 2011 Joel Edgerton attends the premiere of 'Warrior' at the Arclight Hollywood in Hollywood, Calif. on September 6, 2011

Joel Edgerton might not be a household name just yet, but with a slew of high-profile projects in the works – including this weekend’s “Warrior,” with former AccessHollywood.com Rising Star Tom Hardy, this Australian actor is about to take off.

Joel might be best known to fanboys for his role in two “Star Wars” movies playing the young version of Luke Skywalker’s uncle, Owen Lars (blue milk!), but this weekend moviegoers will see a whole new side of the actor – a toned, tough and ripped side – when he plays Brendan, a former MMA fighter-turned-high school teacher in the midst of a family crisis involving his brother, played by Hardy.

The 37-year-old actor recently told Access at the “Warrior” junket that the movie’s physical requirements were initially daunting.

“We got injured, but that’s part of the excitement about signing up for something like that,” he said.

“It’s a real challenge,” Joel, who tore his MCL while filming and was warned by a doctor not make the movie, continued. “I had this sort of stupid idea that I was too old to do anything that athletic anymore.”

Outweighing the physical risks of the role was his desire to flex his acting chops.

“It feels good to have a chance to do all those things, because I [was] craving them years ago,” he told Access. “It was like, ‘Give me a chance! Let me do all these things that I think I know I can do!’ And [then sometimes,] you don’t get the job, or they give it to someone else. So, it’s good.”

The jobs have continued to line up for Joel, who has “The Odd Life of Timothy Green,” with Jennifer Garner and “The Great Gatsby,” with Leonardo DiCaprio coming up.

“He’s a straight up guy,” Joel said of upcoming co-star Leo. “He’s a great actor too.”

Joel wasn’t the only one handing out the compliments. Access also spoke to his “Warrior” co-star, Jennifer Morrison, and director Gavin O’Connor.

“Someone that is brimming with integrity, the kind of person that has an intelligence and soulfulness and someone that you want to be your husband, the father of your child,” Gavin said when asked about his search for the role of Brendan. “When you look at this guy, you can believe that maybe in his past he’s maybe a bit of a bar room brawler. [Joel] had that in him. When he walked out I said to the casting director, ‘We just found Brandon.’”

Joel’s onscreen wife also gushed about the actor, revealing that there are many sides to the Aussie.

“He’s just an incredible human being. There are not enough nice things to say about Joel,” she told Access. “Joel is a true renaissance man… He’s sort of that guy that every guy wants to be… He’s an incredible writer, he’s a painter, he’s plays guitar.”

Adding with a smile, “He’s pretty dreamy.”

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