I recently ran into Idris Elba at an event in Dallas. While I have not had the pleasure to technically advise on one of his movies, I continue to admire his work from afar and find myself including him as one of my favorite actors. Additionally, as an actor, he has that special something, a presence and style that seems to be more and more rare in films as the years go on. I grew up enjoying movies starring lead actors with tons of style and swagger, like Burt Reynolds, Clint Eastwood, Denzel Washington, Gene Hackman, Mel Gibson and Al Pacino. Sometimes, I feel like that polish and confidence is getting harder and harder to find in a sea of look-a-like, act-a-like entertainers. Every time I tune in to the newest police procedural, special unit this or special unit that, a courtroom drama or the endless numbers of 3-4 letter agency shows, I see unconvincing casting and outlandish storylines. Maybe I’m the one that’s off and it’s just a matter of what’s en vogue. I’ve tried to watch a lot of them, but they often seem to fall short right out of the gate. Bring back Southland!
Actors like Idris have that combination of presence and talent that can really make a character come alive. Don’t get me wrong, they don’t have to be an action-movie star, I love to watch many actors that are not in this category that steal my attention when they enter the shot. Idris Elba, a British actor raised in London, is one of those guys who can make a character fun and interesting to watch. Strangely enough, some of my other super-talented favorites are also from across the pond (I’ve linked my favorite movie starring them). Guys like Tom Hardy, Johnny Harris, Eddie Marsan, Mark Strong, Henry Cavill, Christian Bale, Daniel-Day Lewis, Ralph Fiennes, Ewan McGregor, Liam Neeson, Daniel Craig, Gerald Butler, Bill Nighy and Charles Dance just to name a few. Of course, some of my legendary favorites are Sir Anthony Hopkins, Sean Connery and Michael Caine.
Idris is no spring chicken, he is actually just a bit younger than me. However, the guy is a physical specimen and it’s no wonder he is an accomplished Muay Thai fighter, along with a laundry list of other off-screen accolades. The first time I took notice of Idris was in his portrayal of drug kingpin, second-in-command, Stringer Bell in the HBO series, The Wire. As a former homicide detective, I really enjoyed this series as it followed central characters in Baltimore Police’s Homicide Unit. The series is gritty, realistic and digs deep into all the character’s backstories, regardless of “good guy” or “bad guy”, oftentimes blurring the lines. All the cop characters look and act like cops, they don’t look like sharp-dressed models slinging around unrealistic dialog. Idris’ role as Stringer Bell was something many of his fans remember well and could very well be one of his breakout roles. Another Elba movie I love featured several of my aforementioned favorites, Tom Hardy, Gerald Butler and Mark Strong in the stylish hit Rocknrolla. If you liked Snatch, Lock, Stock & Two Smoking Barrels or even the recently released, The Gentlemen, you will love Rocknrolla; all by director Guy Richie. You will find that Idris’ roles are wide ranging, from playing a no-nonsense lawyer in Molly’s Game to Heimdall in Thor, Thor: The Dark World, Thor: Ragnarok, and Avengers: Infinity War. The funny thing is, I have not seen most of his work yet. My business partner and fellow Brit, Harry Taylor, told me the other day that I need to catch Idris as Detective John Luther in the British crime drama by the same name, Luther. How did I miss that one?
So, I’m off to catch season one of Luther. Meanwhile, I look forward to seeing where Idris’ career goes from here. I know he has several projects in the works to include, The Suicide Squad and The Harder they Fall. Not to beat a dead horse, but I highly recommend the HBO series, The Wire; Season 1, Season 2, Season 3, Season 4 and Season 5. Lots of great performances and you will recognize many actors who have launched their careers from that very successful show.