Will 'Pirates of the Caribbean 5' Finally Make Brenton Thwaites Famous?

Pop quiz: Who is Brenton Thwaites? A) I wanna say he was a recurring guest star on Beverly Hills 90210? That later seasons, I think? B) One of Kevin Nealon's less successful SNL characters, maybe... C) Is that a James Bond villain? No, a James Bond Jr. villain! D) A headlining star in six feature films to hit theaters in 2014! E) No one. Stop it. You're making that name up.

Correct answer: D, believe it or not. The clunky name of the 25-year-old Australian actor might not ring many bells, but you'll find it at the top billing position in a healthy sum of movies that have, and continue to, hit theaters this year. And now that the little known Thwaites is in talks to star in the next Pirates of the Caribbean movie, he might finally win the recognition he's been working so hard to get.

Young Thwaites is suggested to be joining the adventures of Captain Jack Sparrow as a British soldier named Henry, possibly meant to fill the clean cut heartthrob vacancy of franchise abandoner Orlando Bloom's Will Turner. Reports also attach Javier Bardem to the fifth Pirates flick, playing a phantom villain named Captain Brand. But even though Thwaites will likely take a backseat to Johnny Depp, Bardem, and returning players like Keira Knightley, Pirates 5 might be just what he needs to get his name in the game in earnest.

After all, burning his candle at both ends with a slew of independent genre pictures isn't quite doing the trick (although those few privy to Thwaites' work know that he's got talent to spare). In 2014 alone, Thwaites has starred in a horror movie, a science-fiction flick, a fantasy film, a YA dystopian book adaptation, a road comedy, and a yet unreleased (in America, anyway) action-crime-drama. And for the most part, he's done mighty fine with each of these.

Thwaites' first release of the year was the horror film Oculus, which starred him opposite Karen Gillan and a ghoulish mirror that the two (playing emotionally ravaged siblings) set out to destroy. Thanks to Thwaites, Gillan, and the clever rhythms of director Mike Flanagan, what otherwise might have been a silly, forgettable haunted house throwaway stands as one of the more enjoyable scarers of the year.

Another surprise came in the form of The Signal, a weird, kooky, admittedly cheap-feeling science-fiction parable that, beyond all odds, actually turned out to be quite an enjoyable entry. Thwaites is no small part of that, mixing the audience surrogate hero archetype with just enough casual quirkiness to enliven his performance without overshadowing the oddball backdrop.

Thwaites' next two were hardly as strong as the aforementioned: his supporting role in Maleficent was largely forgettable, but likely one of the stronger non-Angelina Jolie aspects in the movie (even if he was unconscious for most of it). Thwaites' turn at the head of The Giver, however, was (like the movie on the whole) something entirely wanting for charm, nuance, and remote tolerability.

Still, his new Helen Hunt-directed comedy Ride and Australian action piece Son of a Gun promise more good will for Thwaites. Unfortunately, they (much like their predecessors) do not promise the sort of viewership that would land his name the memorability it deserves.

But a Pirates of the Caribbean movie? That could do it.

Images: Getty; Relativity Media; Entertainment One/Focus Features; Disney