He's been in some of the biggest movies of the past decade, but Aaron Eckhart isn't exactly a household name. What gives? I'm not saying he needs to be gracing tabloid covers every week, Kardashian-style. I'm talking about the kind of respectable name recognition where most people's parents would know who you were talking about if you mentioned his name. Like Robert Redford. Eckhart's got all the hallmarks of a timeless movie star: He's a great actor. He's funny. He's smart. He knows how to pick good roles, for the most part (I'll give him a pass for Love Happens and Battle: Los Angeles). To top it all off, he even looks a little bit like Game of Thrones super-hunk Nikolaj Coster-Waldau. In next week's action-packed release, Erased, he stars alongside Olga Kurylenko as a former CIA agent on the run with his daughter in tow. Expect to see Eckhart in incredibly fine form: Entertainment Weekly reports that he spent four months doing jujitsu and MMA training to prep for this very physical role. If the massive success of Liam Neeson's Taken movies are any indication, audiences can't get enough of ass-kicking dads doing whatever it takes to protect their daughters. So who knows, if Erased does well, it just might turn into a little franchise Eckhart could headline, Neeson-style. That certainly wouldn't hurt his profile.

I'm not entirely sure what Eckhart has up his sleeve next. His IMDB page is relatively sparse when it comes to future projects, aside from a horror called I, Frankenstein slated to come out in 2014. Here's hoping he's got something amazing in the works that will catapult his career to the next level.

In the meantime, I've compiled a list of my own favourite Eckhart roles thus far. He certainly has amazing range, doesn't he? 1. The Dark Knight. Eckhart is so perfect as Harvey Dent, I can't even imagine anyone else in this two-faced role. Like Heath Ledger's portrayal of the Joker, this character could have easily become a one-dimensional caricature in a lesser actor's hands.

2. Thank You For Smoking. Nick Naylor is not an easy character to like. He works for the Man, at the expense of the little guy. Yet Eckhart manages to humanize the role, and actually turn Nick into someone we can relate to and, yes, maybe even root for. It doesn't hurt that he's a master of zippy one-liners.

3. Erin Brockovich. The hair! The beard! The manly tank tops! The suave, clean-shaven Eckhart we've come to know is almost unrecognizable in his role as sassy Erin's sensitive biker boyfriend George. He's totally believable though, and very easy to fall for.

4. Rabbit Hole. This must have been an intimidating role to tackle. Playing a grieving father opposite Oscar winner Nicole Kidman is no easy task, but Eckhart not only holds his own, he adds unique layers to his character's raw anger.

5. In the Company of Men. "Cold, unblinking, reptilian." That's how Roger Ebert described Eckhart's character, Chad, in his review of this late-'90s flick. Eckhart sure is good at playing bad, isn't he? But, he's also quite skilled at playing complex, emotionally tormented men, which is part of what made this movie so engaging.

categories Movies