When Elba found out he’d be playing The Wire’s Stringer Bell, a character who initially came off as shrewd, he set out to make him his own: “Where I grew up, gangsters had to be smart. That whole flashy thing—no, mate. It was suits and smiles. I said, ‘That’s how I’m going to make Stringer.’”
After his father’s death, Elba went through a midlife crisis: “I got to a place where I wasn’t even living anymore. I was becoming a robot with my work. I have no fear of jumping out of burning cars or out of buildings on set, but in reality, I couldn’t run one hundred meters. I just felt out of touch with reality.”
· Aaron Sorkin, who cast Elba as a criminal-defense lawyer in his upcoming directional debut, Molly’s Game, says about the actor: “There are certain things an actor can’t fake. They can’t act smart, they can’t act being funny, they can’t act like they have gravitas….Idris brings all those things. Plus, he can act. If Idris Elba says he wants to play a part, that’s pretty much the end of your casting search.”
· Is there anything Elba thinks he can’t do? “I’m not good at building furniture.” How does he know? “I’ve tried it.”
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Idris Elba by Victor Demarchelier for Esquire August 2017