Karl Urban may be a name that sounds familiar to you, but you could never quite remember where you've seen him. The 40-year-old actor is probably the second most recognised New Zealander in Hollywood outside of his home country besides director Peter Jackson (and the hobbits). Strangely, he has appeared in numerous Hollywood blockbusters, but never quite gaining the recognition that he deserves.
Born in 7 June 1972 as the son of German immigrant in New Zealand, Karl has been acting since he was 8-years-old and started off his career in television. He soon got his first break and became a household on the big-screens of New Zealand in "The Price of Milk" in 2000, before he went on to play with the big boys in Hollywood.
With Karl's appearance as the major lead in the upcoming "Dredd 3D", we look back at five roles in the blockbusters he has appeared in that you might have missed, but these roles have somewhat certainly made a subtle impression on you.
After finding success on his home ground, Karl Urban sets off to build his acting career in Hollywood. His first Hollywood movie appearance was in the silly horror flick "Ghost Ship" in 2002, but it was probably a little ironic that he would gain a much larger international audience when he returned to New Zealand to film in fellow countryman Peter Jackson's "The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers" that was released in the same year.
Karl Urban plays as Eomer, the son of King Theoden of Rohan, and brother to the shield-maiden Eowyn. Not being born on the saddle just like the Riders of Rohan, Urban had to take up five days of two-hour riding lessons for eight weeks to master the riding techniques, with sword in hand while wearing armour, which we saw him deftly pulled off when he surrounded the party of Gimli, Legolas and Aragorn with his exiled brother-in-arms in "Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers", before returning to lead the charge to lift the siege of Uruk-Hai on Helm's Deep, alongside Gandalf the White. Urban would reprise his role in "Lord of the Rings: Return of the King" as he and his father King Theoden leads the Riders of Rohan to reinforce the city of Minas Tirith against the dark armies of Sauron.
All that training was not for naught after "Lord of the Rings", as Urban would later make a documentary about his sword-training and experience in those days, titled "Way of the Sword".
After numerous appearances as a supporter of the good guys, Karl Urban gets to play as the bad guy for once as Vaako in Vin Diesel's "The Chronicles of Riddick". In the sequel to "Pitch Black", Vaako is a commander of the Necromongers who is sent by its leader the Lord Marshal to hunt down Riddick in order to prevent the fulfilment of a prophecy that Riddick would bring an end to the Necromongers. Vaako goes toe-to-toe with Riddick on the planet of Crematoria and believed that he had succeeded in his mission when he left him for dead on the prison-planet.
Urban continues to look stunning even though he switched his knightly armour from "Lord of the Rings" to the steely grey suit of the Necromongers, and being touted as a rival to Vin Diesel's Riddick is sure to stick into one's collective memory. Urban is expected to reprise his role as Vaako in the upcoming sequel, after Riddick is declared the new Lord Marshal of the Necromongers in the end of "Chronicles of Riddick".
Continuing his bad guy streak, Karl Urban was cast to play as the rogue Russian agent Kirill in Paul Greengrass' "The Bourne Supremacy". Kirill was a significant rival to Jason Bourne in the series when he kills Bourne's girlfriend in India, which launches Bourne into a mission of finding out who he really his and his relation with Threadstone. As Bourne slowly begins to find the pieces of his puzzling identity, Kirill is on a manhunt of his own to finish off Bourne, and their culminating showdown in a tunnel is probably of the most remembered car chase sequences in the whole Bourne franchise.
After playing supporting roles since entering into Hollywood, it was time for Karl Urban to make his lead debut in the remake of "Pathfinder", where he plays as the son of a Viking warlord that landed on the shores of the Americas 600 years before Christopher Columbus found the New World.
After his father is killed by the indigenous Red Indian tribes, Karl's character was renamed as Ghost for his pale skin by the local tribes that spared him and adopted him. Unfortunately for Karl's first leading role in Hollywood, "Pathfinder" was mainly disregarded as an over-splattered blood and gore fest that did not earn it much acclaim and box office success, even though Ghost actually takes out the entire Viking war band in a single ingenious stroke over some rocky cliffs.
Suffering from the lack of making a tremendous breakthrough as a lead actor and getting tired of action roles, Karl Urban would be given the role of an iconic character in television history that would establish him as a well sought-after actor. Being a fan of the original "Star Trek" TV series as a child, it was not hard to see why he would take up the role of Dr. Leonard 'Bones' McCoy for J.J Abram's "Star Trek" cinematic reboot.
As one of the most recognisable character on the crew of the USS Enterprise, it was very important that Karl Urban could get into his character, just as the character's original actor the late DeForest Kelley. When his character first appeared on board a transport ship to the Starfleet Academy with Captain Kirk (played by Chris Pine), his accent and mannerism was so reminiscent of DeForest, that it moved Star Trek alumni Leonard Nimoy, who appeared alongside DeForest in the series and movies, to tears.
That's how you tell if Karl Urban has done a good job for his character, and it's no wonder why he could be back again for the announced sequel of "Star Trek".