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Coastal Carolina University alumnus named top actor

October 28, 2008

Actor Michael J. Kelly, a 1992 graduate of Coastal Carolina University, has been named one of "10 Actors to Watch" by Variety, the entertainment industry's leading trade publication.

The accolade was prompted by Kelly's role in the movie, "The Changeling," directed by Clint Eastwood and starring Angelina Jolie.

Kelly plays the part of Detective Lester Ybarra in the film, a true story based on the Wineville Chicken Murders, about a 1929 kidnapping case in Los Angeles.

Kelly, who lives in Manhattan, recently attended the New York and Los Angeles premieres of the film. He is originally from Lawrenceville, Ga., and graduated from Coastal Carolina University with a degree in theater performance. He came to the University on a cross country athletic scholarship.

The actor was in Africa shooting the HBO miniseries "Generation Kill" when the call came in for a part in "The Changeling." The producers worked together to free him from his schedule to be available for the new role. He next co-stars alongside Russell Crowe in "Tenderness," according to Variety.

Television roles to his credit include "The Sopranos," "The Fringe," "Kojak" and others. "Dawn of the Dead," the 2004 movie, was his "first big break," he said. Other movies include "Man on the Moon" in 1999 and "Broken English" in 2007.