After nearly a decade of minor roles, Peña's breakthrough came in Paul Haggis's Oscar-winning tale of race relations. He plays Daniel Ruiz, the tattooed, shaven-headed Hispanic locksmith who is confronted with the prejudices of Sandra Bullock's middle-class carjacking victim.
World Trade Center (2006)
A true turning point, Peña portrayed Port Authority police officer John McLoughlin in Oliver Stone's true tale of two men buried in the rubble of the 9/11 attacks. Looking back, "I think it was too soon for American audiences", he admits.
Lions For Lambs (2007)
Having worked with Clint Eastwood on Million Dollar Baby, Peña then collaborated with another cinematic icon in the shape of Robert Redford, featuring as a university student who enlists and fights the Taliban in this politically charged drama.
My Son, My Son, What Have Ye Done (2009)
A regular in studio films, Peña's also notched up several credible indie projects, including this oddball Werner Herzog-directed, David Lynch-produced true crime thriller. He plays a detective trying to unravel a matriarchal murder.
Tower Heist (2011)
For all his dramatic roles, Peña is an amicable presence in comedies – none more so than his elevator operator in this tale of a group of employees who take revenge on Alan Alda's swindling Wall Street businessman.