In 2009, Elba appeared on a six-episode arc of the American sitcom The Office, playing Charles Miner, Michael Scott's new boss. In 2010, he appeared in the action film The Losers in the role of Roque, the second-in-command of a black-ops team. The same year, he appeared in the thriller Takers. Elba plays the title role of Detective John Luther in the BBC television show Luther that aired from 4 May 2010 on BBC One, which has finished its second series.
Elba, an only child, was born Idrissa Akuna Elba, and shortened his first name at school in Canning Town, where he first became involved in acting. His father is Sierra Leonean and his mother is Ghanaian. Elba grew up in East Ham, and began helping an uncle with his wedding-DJ business in 1986, and within a year he had started his own DJ company with some friends. Elba left school in 1988 and won a place in the National Youth Music Theatre—thanks to a £1,500 Prince’s Trust grant – but then ended up having to do everything from tire-fitting to cold-call advertising sales to pay the rent between roles in Crimewatch murder reconstructions. Elba was working in nightclubs under the DJ nickname Big Driis in 1991, but began auditioning for television parts in his early twenties. After a stint in the National Youth Music Theatre, Elba worked the night shift at a Ford factory in Dagenham, London in 1989 and '90. He started his acting career while in high school with encouragement from his drama teacher.
|Kim||(1999 - ?) (divorced) 1 child|
Deejays under the name "Big Driis the Londoner"
Appeared on the cover of Essence's "Hot Hollywood Men" issue, April 2004.
Has a daughter, Isan Elba (born 2002) with his ex-wife. Isan lives with her mother in Atlanta.
Is an only child to African immigrants living in England. His father was from Sierra Leone and his mother was from Ghana. His name is of Krio African origin.
He appeared on the Black Entertainment Television (BET) special, Black Men: The Truth (2007) (TV).
Co-produced a track on rapper Jay-Z's latest album, "American Gangster".
Former member of the National Youth Music Theatre.
Has been a follower of Arsenal football club since the age of 15, although admits only to having gone to two matches. His father supports Manchester United (interview on arsenal.com website February 2010).
Stringer is very calculating and he has to be for so many reasons. He'll calculates the next steps, shipments, inventory, pays workers..all that. But the wicked part is that he can plan murders because that's a part of his business. I'll tell you, if I, Idris, had to contract for murders as part of my job, I couldn't do it because I have a heart. I have no stomach for ordering other people's deaths. Stringer just gets in there, orders the deed and bam..that's it..it's done and he doesn't think twice about it. There's no way I could be that cold. I'm also a more lively kid out there, doing stuff and I can't just do one thing forever. Stringer is committed to his job and business so much so he doesn't have much of a personal life so he's more one dimensional. As for me I have a child, a life, thirst for travel, you know I'm curious..whereas Stringer is more interested in being the best business person and his interests don't go further than that. - on the differences between him and the character of Stringer Bell from "The Wire".
"Wherever I go the real hard-core drug dealers come up to me and confide in me. I almost feel guilty turning around and saying: 'Ello, mate. My name's Idris and I'm from London.' I don't want to break the illusion." - On why he uses his American accent when talking to fans of "The Wire".
[on the diversity of projects he's been involved with and if there's any kind of role that frightens him] - I would never be fearful of any character. I think there's a tendency for actors like myself, and I don't mean to generalize myself, but I've played "men's men," if you will, characters that are simmering rage and calculated. There's a trend not to play anything that is opposed to that. I remember when I left Stringer [on HBO's The Wire], one of the films I did was Tyler Perry's Daddy' Little Girls, which was about a man doting over his three little girls. I remember there was talk, "Why? Would would you do that? Play gangsters. Play ruthless." It's really funny because the same people who loved me as Stringer Bell were the same people that were watching Daddy's Little Girls literally in tears. Some people don't like the film, but some of the guys that came up to me and said, "Yo, I want to see you play gangsters" were the same ones that were in tears because they had either strained relationships with their children, or they loved their children so much and they were watching a character that they could relate to. I don't mind playing characters that are opposite of what people think I am.
... For me, it's entertainment. Every single film I've done, it's about the character. I chose these roles, whether it's Obsessed, whether it's The Gospel. Not everything is going to be as powerful as some of the more iconic roles. I mean, my two biggest performances to date: One film is called Sometimes in April, which is a really important film about the Rwandan Genocide, and people don't ever speak about that role, or that film and what it meant to the people of Rwanda. And I have a film that's out now, a small film called Legacy [he stars as a former black-ops soldier who was captured and tortured, and returns home to struggle with his paranoia and anxiety and a political conspiracy], but not one bit of acclaim. We actually sent a screener to Roger Ebert this week because he expressed his wish to see it. Not to say he's given his iconic two thumbs up, yet. But I really hope that he does. Michael Moore saw it and loved it. It's a film that critically, in the festival world, has done really well, but again, it's a tiny film and no one wants to write about it because no one really wants to support small-timey films. This character holes himself up in a room for a week, and in this room, he starts to unravel who he is and where he's been. You start to understand that this is a man who's not very well. And then you realize that you're not sure if some of the things we're seeing are real, and in the end, there's a twist. I'm so proud of it, because we made it for no money. [He was also an executive producer on the film.] But I'm also proud of it because it actually does resonate for people who have someone like that in their family, someone who worked in the armed forces and the person that left and the soldier that came back are different.... I get criticized for taking roles in films like Ghost Rider 2, but if you look at my résumé, dude, I've mixed it up as much as I can. [Laughs] I love to play different roles. That's just the kind of actor I am.
(August 2005) Currently living in New York City
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