Laz Alonso as Deputy John Burke in a scene from Screen Gems' "Straw Dogs," opening nationwide Sept. 16

*Laz Alonso’s career is on fire.

The 37-year-old Washington DC native, whose recent credits include “Avatar,” “Jumping the Broom” and A&E’s “Breakout Kings,” says his ability to make critically-acclaimed footprints in Hollywood has just as much to do with the films he turns down as the ones he takes.

“Looking at my career, in the last year in particular, what actually brought my biggest leap of success was not working as opposed to working,” he tells EURweb’s Lee Bailey in a phone interview. “I got to a certain point where I was getting a lot of opportunities to play certain types of roles that I did not feel had longevity in them. I had a conversation with my agent and I told him straight up, look, say no to any of these roles. I don’t want to entertain them. I don’t want to do them anymore. I really want to change the course of where my career is starting to go and I can kind of see and feel [where it’s going.] I want to play roles that I’m proud of, that I feel a certain integrity about, and I want to continue to be truthful in the work that I do.”

Alonso admits things were “quiet for a while” after he made this pivotal career decision on the heels of “Avatar,” hoping to continue in roles of similar substance.  His patience paid off when the scripts for “Jump the Broom” and “Breakout Kings” came across his desk.

“When I read them, I felt like the characters were morally right,” he says. “They had integrity, self-respect, and in some cases, they were the voice of reason.”

Alonso feels the same way about his latest film, “Straw Dogs.” Opening this Friday (Sept. 16), the story follows screenwriter David Sumner (James Marsden) and his wife, Amy (Kate Bosworth), as they move back to Amy’s hometown in the Deep South and face increasing conflict with the locals (Alexander Skarsgård, Walton Goggins).

James Marsden and Laz Alonso in "Straw Dogs"

Alonso, who plays the town sheriff, says his character is in step with his decision to only take roles that contribute something positive to the story.

“It wasn’t necessarily a lead in the film, but what I loved about this character was that he stood out from the standpoint of there’s tension all around him, and he takes the air out of that tension in every scene he’s in,” Alonso says.

Promos for the film, a remake of Sam Peckinpah’s 1971 psychological thriller starring Dustin Hoffman and Susan George, keep viewers guessing about the exact cause of the tension.  But in the bonus audio below, Alonso drops hints about a racial element that may serve as one of the film’s final “straws.” [Scroll down to watch the trailers. FYI, Alonso does not appear in either trailer.]

Laz Alonso explains his role in Straw Dogs by CherieNic