David Oyelowo at the UK Premiere of “Jack Reacher” at the Odeon Leicester Square in London. (Dec. 10, 2012)

*David Oyelowo is an actor whose time has come – at least here in the States.

He’s been in the game for over a decade in his native England, having performed on stage as part of the prestigious Royal Shakespeare Company, starred in several British television shows and even a radio play before beginning his film career in 2001.

He’s appeared in such films as 2005’s “The Best Man” and “The Last King of Scotland” in 2006, and delivered memorable 2011 performances in “Rise of the Planet of the Apes” and “The Help.”

But when all is said and done, 2012 will likely be considered the 36-year-old’s breakout year – having started it off with a lead role in “Red Tails,” and making prominent appearances in “The Paperboy” and “Lincoln” before wrapping with Friday’s release of “Jack Reacher” opposite Tom Cruise.

(Left to right) Tom Cruise is Reacher, Richard Jenkins is Rodin and David Oyelowo is Emerson in JACK REACHER, from Paramount Pictures and Skydance Productions.

The title character is a drifter and ex-Army Military Police officer who is called in to help investigate a man arrested after a sniper kills five people in Pittsburgh. [Saturday’s scheduled red carpet premiere was cancelled out of sensitivity to the recent shootings in Newtown, CT. Paramount will now hold it on Wednesday (Dec. 19), but with no red carpet. ]

Oyelowo plays Emerson, a friendly rival investigator to Jack Reacher who eventually becomes one of his ruthless foes.

“One of the things I have an allergic reaction to playing, especially as a black actor, is the mandatory kind of best friend/cop/detective type. You will never see me in that movie,” the actor told us during interviews for the film in New York. “What I loved about this is that he was a genuine counterpoint. There is an Emerson movie that’s parallel to this in a sense and he’s on his own track. And that was a lot of fun to play.”

Below, Oyelowo reveals how director Christopher McQuarrie approached him to play Emerson.

Watch clips of Oyelowo in “Jack Reacher” below.