5 Things You Don't Know About Chiwetel Ejiofor

Four months before the Academy Awards in March, Chiwetel Ejiofor is an odds-on best actor favorite for his work as Solomon Northup in "12 Years a Slave," but his epic portrayal in this critically acclaimed film wasn't Ejiofor's only project in 2013.

Ejiofor, 36, takes on the compelling role of musician Louis Lester in Starz's " Dancing on the Edge," another period piece set in 1930s London. The show follows a group of black jazz musicians as they begin their rise to stardom - a rise that parallels Ejiofor's as an accomplished actor.

You know Chiwetel Ejiofor from his roles playing opposite Denzel Washington and Angelina Jolie, but here are five things most people don't know about the U.K. native that he told to ABC News:

1. He recently wrote and directed a short film for the Young Vic and Guardian newspaper called "Columbite Tantalite" about the precious mineral found in the Democratic Republic of Congo.

2. In the late 1990s while performing in "Romeo and Juliet" for the National Theatre (he played Romeo), he sported a long mane of dreadlocks.

3. He didn't take his driving test until the age of 27, when he was starting to spend more time in L.A.

4. While he listens to an eclectic range of music, one of his all-time favorite albums is "Negotiations and Love Songs" by Paul Simon.

5. He loves the water and frequently sails when in California, and often stays on his barge when in London.