Born: Oct. 19, 1966, in Queens, N.Y., as Jonathan Kolia Favreau.

Signature move: As an actor, it's staring morosely, berating himself. As a director, it's AC/DC riffs, odd couples (Will Ferrell and Zooey Deschanel; Robert Downey Jr. and his computerized butler/mechanic).

For fans of: Shiny metal things exploding, buddy comedies, Vince Vaughn, bears with these fucking claws and these fangs.

Latest film: Cowboys & Aliens (opens Friday, not screened for critics by WW press deadlines).

Why you care: Favreau actually wrote and co-produced his own best role back in 1996: In Swingers, self-doubting Mike's post-breakup emotional wreckage was the fulcrum for one of the most charming, quotable romantic man-comedies ever. The actor-writer-director's on-screen appearances have since congealed into beefy, forgettable sidekicks (Daredevil, The Break-Up) or husbands in trouble (Very Bad Things). But Favreau has emerged as a kindly chameleon behind the camera—directing the past decade's only truly heartwarming holiday movie (Elf) and injecting both big-budget Iron Man flicks with bursts of quirky humor between explosions. Aliens fighting cowboys may seem like an oddball concept, but with Favreau at the helm there's a chance this Western/outer-space mash-up could contain a fair bit of humanity, too. Then again, he did write Couples Retreat. 

SEE IT: Cowboys & Aliens is rated PG-13. It opens Friday at 99 West Drive-In, Cedar Hills, Clackamas, Eastport, Cinetopia, Cornelius, Oak Grove, Pioneer Place, Broadway, Cinema 99, Bridgeport, City Center, Division, Evergreen, Hilltop, Lloyd Center, Lloyd Mall, Movies on TV, Tigard, Wilsonville, Sandy and St. Johns Twin Cinema-Pub.