Elba in October 2014
|Born||Idrissa Akuna Elba
6 September 1972
Newham, Essex, England
|Other names||Big Dris
Elba is best known for his portrayal of drug lord and aspiring businessman Russell "Stringer" Bell in the HBO series The Wire, Detective John Luther in the BBC One series Luther, and Nelson Mandela in the biographical film Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom. Elba has been nominated for three Golden Globe Awards for Best Actor in a Miniseries or Television Film, winning one, as well as earning four Primetime Emmy Award nominations.
Elba has appeared in films such as American Gangster (2007), Takers (2010), Thor (2011), Prometheus (2012), Pacific Rim (2013), and Thor: The Dark World (2013). In addition to his acting work, he is a DJ under the moniker DJ Big Driis (or Big Driis the Londoner) and a hip-hop soul musician.
Elba was born in Newham, Essex, England. His father, Winston, was a Sierra Leonean who worked in a Ford motor factory, and his mother, Eve, was a Ghanaian who had a clerical job. Elba's parents married in Sierra Leone and later moved to London. Elba was raised in East Ham, and shortened his first name from Idrissa to Idris at school in Canning Town, where he first became involved in acting. He credits The Stage with giving him his first big break: Having seen an advertisement for a play in the newspaper, Elba auditioned and met his first agent while performing in the role. He began helping an uncle with his wedding DJ business in 1986; within a year, he had started his own DJ company with some of his 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. He worked in various jobs, such as tyre-fitting and cold-call advertising sales, to earn an income between roles in Crimewatch murder reconstructions. He was working in nightclubs under the DJ nickname Big Driis at the age of 19, but began auditioning for television parts in his early twenties. After a stint in the National Youth Music Theatre, he worked the night shift at Ford Dagenham.
In 1995, Elba landed his first role on a series called Bramwell, a medical drama set in 1890s England. He played the lead character in an episode of the first season, an African petty thief named Charlie Carter, who lost his white wife to childbirth and had to figure out how to support his newborn daughter. His first credited role arrived in 1995, with a supporting role as a gigolo on the "Sex" episode of Absolutely Fabulous. Many supporting roles on British television followed, including series such as The Bill and The Ruth Rendell Mysteries. He joined the cast of the soap opera Family Affairs, and went on to appear in the television serial Ultraviolet and later in Dangerfield. He decided to move to New York City soon after. He returned to England occasionally for a television role, such as a part in one of the Inspector Lynley Mysteries. In 2001, Elba played Achilles in a stage production of Troilus and Cressida in New York City.
After a supporting turn on a 2001 episode of Law & Order, Elba landed a starring role on a 2002 HBO drama, The Wire. From 2002 to 2004, Elba portrayed Russell "Stringer" Bell in the HBO drama series, perhaps his best-known role in the US. In 2005, he portrayed Captain Augustin Muganza in Sometimes in April, an HBO film about the Rwandan Genocide. Elba appeared on the 2007 BET special Black Men: The Truth. Elba appeared as Charlie Gotso in The No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency, filmed in Botswana. The series premiered on 23 March 2008, Easter Sunday, on BBC One, receiving a high 6.3 million viewers and 27% of the audience share.
In January 2009, it was reported per Variety that Elba would portray Charles Miner, a new rival to Dunder Mifflin regional manager Michael Scott (Steve Carell) for NBC's The Office. Elba appeared in a six episode story arc later in the 2009 season as well as the season finale. In September 2009, Elba signed a deal to star as the lead role in the 6-part BBC television show Luther, which aired in May 2010. In October 2009, NBC announced Elba as executive producer of an as yet untitled legal drama. He appeared on Showtime's The Big C in 2010. At the 69th Golden Globe Awards telecast on 15 January 2012, Elba won the Award for Best Actor in a Series, Mini-Series, or Motion Picture Made for Television for his role on the BBC crime thriller series Luther.
In 2007, Elba signed on as the lead of the 2007 film Tyler Perry's Daddy's Little Girls, playing Monty, a blue-collar mechanic who falls in love with an attorney helping him gain custody of his kids, and finds the relationship and his custody hopes threatened by the return of his ex-wife. He appeared in 28 Weeks Later (2007) and This Christmas (2007), which brought in nearly $50 million at the box office in 2007. In 2008, he starred in the horror film Prom Night and RocknRolla. In 2009, he starred in horror film The Unborn and Obsessed. The latter was a box office success, taking $29 million in its opening weekend.
Elba's next film was Legacy (2010), in which he portrayed a black ops soldier who returned to Brooklyn after a failed mission in Eastern Europe, where he undertook a journey looking for retribution. He starred in Dark Castle's adaptation of DC/Vertigo's The Losers, under the direction of Sylvain White, in the role of Roque, the second-in-command of a black-ops team out for revenge against a government that did them wrong. Filming took place in Puerto Rico and the movie was released in April 2010. Elba appeared in the 2010 thriller Takers. He played Heimdall in Kenneth Branagh's 2011 film Thor (based on the Marvel Comics superhero of the same name).
In August 2010, Elba signed up to portray the title character in a reboot of James Patterson's Alex Cross film franchise. However in February 2011 he was replaced by Tyler Perry. Elba appeared in the 2012 sequel, Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance, playing an alcoholic warrior monk tasked with finding Ghost Rider. In February 2012, Elba confirmed that he would portray Nelson Mandela in the film Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom, which is based on the eponymous autobiography. As part of his preparation for the role, Elba spent a night alone, locked in a cell, on Robben Island. His performance earned him a nomination for the Golden Globe Award for Best Actor – Motion Picture Drama
In June 2012, Elba portrayed Captain Janek in Prometheus. He joined the 2013 film Pacific Rim in the role of Stacker Pentecost. In January 2014, he confirmed that he would be starring in a film adaptation of Luther.
In 2015, Elba appeared as Heimdall in the superhero blockbuster Avengers: Age of Ultron, directed by Joss Whedon. He will next be seen as the Commandant in the Netflix film Beasts of No Nation, directed by Primetime Emmy Award winner Cary Fukunaga. He will then be voicing the villainous tiger Shere Khan in an adaptation of The Jungle Book, directed by Jon Favreau and co-starring Bill Murray, Scarlett Johansson and Academy Award winners Sir Ben Kingsley, Christopher Walken and Lupita Nyong'o, as well as providing voice work on Pixar's Finding Dory, alongside Ellen Degeneres and Albert Brooks, both reprising their roles from 2003's Finding Nemo.
In 2001, Elba appeared in music videos for Fat Joe, Angie Stone and English rapper Giggs. In 2006, he recorded the four-song EP Big Man for Hevlar Records. He co-produced and performed on the intro to Jay-Z's 2007 album American Gangster. He DJ'd at the 2007 NBA All Star parties at the The Venetian and Ice House Lounge in Las Vegas.
In July 2009, Elba was the DJ for BET's new series Rising Icons. Elba announced the release of his first single "Please Be True." In the August 2009 issue of Essence magazine, he announced the name of his six-song EP as Kings Among Kings. He released his EP High Class Problems Vol. 1 in the United Kingdom in February 2010, for which he has won many prizes including a Billboard Music Awards nomination.
In 2014 he produced K. Michelle's "The Rebellious Soul Musical" which debuted on VH1 on 19 August 2014. In May Elba featured on Mr Hudson's single "Step Into the Shadows". Mr Hudson also produced his album Idris Elba Presents mi Mandela, which was released in November 2014.
The Prince's Trust, which Elba credits with helping to start his career, appointed him its Anti-Crime Ambassador in April 2009. In July 2010, he announced his support for Oona King in her campaign to become the Labour Party candidate for Mayor of London in 2012.
Awards and honours
|2005||Gospel, TheThe Gospel||Charles Frank|
|2005||Sometimes in April||Augustin|
|2007||Tyler Perry's Daddy's Little Girls||Monty James|
|2007||Reaping, TheThe Reaping||Ben|
|2007||28 Weeks Later||General Stone|
|2007||This Christmas||Quentin Whitfield|
|2008||Prom Night||Detective Winn|
|2008||Human Contract, TheThe Human Contract||Larry|
|2009||Unborn, TheThe Unborn||Arthur Wyndham|
|2010||Legacy||Malcolm Gray||Executive producer|
|2010||Losers, TheThe Losers||Roque|
|2012||Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance||Moreau|
|2013||Pacific Rim||Stacker Pentecost|
|2013||Thor: The Dark World||Heimdall|
|2013||Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom||Nelson Mandela|
|2014||No Good Deed||Colin Evans||Executive producer|
|2015||Avengers: Age of Ultron||Heimdall|
|2015||Beasts of No Nation||Commandant|
|2016||The Jungle Book||Shere Khan (voice)||Filming|
|2016||Finding Dory||TBA (voice)||Filming|
|2016||Star Trek Beyond||TBA||Filming|
|1994||2point4 Children||Parachute Instructor||Episode: "Fortuosity"|
|1994||Space Precinct||Pizza Delivery Man||Episode: "Double Duty"|
|1995||Absolutely Fabulous||Hilton||Episode: "Sex"|
|1996||Crocodile Shoes II||Jo-Jo||Episode: "Troubled Man"|
|1997||Family Affairs||Tim Webster|
|1997||Silent Witness||Charlie||Episode: "Blood, Sweat & Tears"|
|1998||Ultraviolet||Vaughan Rice||6 episodes|
|1999||Dangerfield||Matt Gregory||12 episodes|
|2000||In Defence||PC Paul Fraser||1 episode|
|2001||Law & Order||Lonnie Liston||Episode: "3 Dawg Night"|
|2002||The Inspector Lynley Mysteries||Robert Gabriel||Episode: "Payment in Blood"|
|2003||CSI: Miami||Angelo Sedaris||Episode: "The Best Defense"|
|2002–2004||Wire, TheThe Wire||Russell "Stringer" Bell||37 episodes|
|2005||Girlfriends||Paul||Episode: "All in a Panic"|
|2005||Sometimes in April||Augustin Muganza|
|2008||No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency, TheThe No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency||Charles Gotso||Episode: "The No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency"|
|2009||The Office||Charles Miner||7 episodes|
|2010||Big C, TheThe Big C||Lenny||4 episodes|
|2010||Walk Like a Panther||Executive producer|
|2011||Aqua Teen Hunger Force||Police Officer||Voice
|2010–2015||Luther||DCI John Luther||Producer
|2011||How Hip Hop Changed the World||Executive producer|
|2011||Demons Never Die||Executive producer|
|2012||Idris Elba's How Clubbing Changed the World||Himself||Host|
|2013||Idris Elba: King of Speed||Himself||Host|
|2015||Idris Elba: No Limits||Himself||Host|
|2011||Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3||SFC "Truck"|
|2014||FIFA 15||Voice in E3 Trailer|
|2012||Mumford and Sons||"Lover of the Light"||Blind Man||Co-director, producer|
- 2006: Big Man
- 2009: Kings Among Kings
- 2010: High Class Problems Vol. 1
- 2014: Idris Elba Presents mi Mandela
- 2011: Merry DriisMas Holiday Mixtape
Awards and nominations
- Yuan, Jada (8 June 2012). "Idris Elba on Prometheus, Learning to Box, and His Party House". vulture.com. Retrieved 14 October 2013.
- Addley, Esther (20 March 2008). "He often has fewer lines than anyone else but you still feel as though he has the bigger part, because he is luminous". The Guardian. Retrieved 23 August 2013.
- "Why black British directors and actors leave the UK for Hollywood". The Guardian. 29 August 2013. Retrieved 14 October 2013.
- "The Wire Cast and Crew: Idris Elba, Russell "Stringer" Bell". HBO.com. Retrieved 11 April 2009.
- Lowry, Brian (10 July 2014). "Emmy Nominations 2014 — Full List: 66th Primetime Emmys Nominees". Variety. Retrieved 28 January 2015.
- "Wire actor Elba joins BBC drama". BBC News. 4 September 2009. Retrieved 7 September 2009.
- French, Philip (13 July 2013). "Pacific Rim – review". The Observer (London). Retrieved 17 July 2013.
- Hornaday, Ann (11 July 2013). "'Pacific Rim' review: A rock ’em, sock ’em sci-fi spectacle with heart". The Washington Post. Retrieved 17 July 2013.
- Canada, Danielle (13 September 2011). "Idris Elba (Driis) Releases New Music Video "Secret Garden"". hiphopwired.com.
- Fitzherbert, Henry (24 May 2012). "Idris Elba: Obama loves him and now he's playing Mandela". Daily Express. Retrieved 28 January 2015.
- Sawyer, Miranda (24 January 2010). "Idris Elba: life after 'Stringer' Bell". The Observer. Retrieved 28 January 2015.
- Jeffries, Stuart (9 May 2009). "The Midas Touch". The Guardian (London). Retrieved 29 July 2009.
- "Idris Elba: Big Questions". BAFTA Guru. 19 June 2013. Retrieved 17 August 2015.
- Ayres, Chris (23 August 2008). "Life as a RocknRolla: meet the crafty Cockney Idris Elba". The Times (London). Retrieved 11 April 2009.
- "Idris Elba - Biography". Yahoo! Movies. Retrieved 17 July 2013.
- "Idris Elba". askmen.com. Retrieved 17 July 2013.
- Thomas, Archie (25 March 2008). "'Detective Agency' finds big auds". Variety. Retrieved 11 April 2009.
- Plunkett, John (25 March 2008). "Minghella's last film watched by 6.3m". The Guardian (London). Retrieved 11 April 2009.
- "Actor Idris Elbia developing NBC legal drama". Reuters. 28 October 2009. Retrieved 2 November 2009.
- "Idris Elba Is New Alex Cross in Relaunched James Patterson Film Franchise". Deadline. Retrieved 19 August 2010.
- "Idris Elba and Columbus Short Interview, This Christmas". Moviesonline.ca. Retrieved 11 April 2009.
- "This Christmas". Thenumbers.com. Retrieved 11 April 2009.
- "Idris Elba And Beyonce To Play Married Couple In 'Obsessed'". Blackvoices.com. Retrieved 11 April 2009.
- "Weekend Report: Moviegoers Fixate on 'Obsessed'". Boxofficemojo.com. Retrieved 26 April 2009.
- "Idris Elba gets his kit off on set". UKPA. 8 July 2009. Retrieved 21 July 2009.
- "Idris Elba Confirmed For 'The Losers,' Zoe Saldana Playing Aisha". MTV. Retrieved 11 April 2009.
- ""The Losers" Commences Production for Dark Castle Entertainment". Business Wire. 29 July 2009. Retrieved 5 August 2009.
- "Idris Elba joins Marvel Studios' 'Thor'". The Hollywood Reporter. 20 November 2009. Retrieved 20 November 2009.
- Bierly, Mandi (1 February 2011). "Tyler Perry in, Idris Elba out of Alex Cross reboot: Producer explains why – EXCLUSIVE". Entertainment Weekly. Retrieved 18 September 2011.
- Kit, Boris (5 October 2010). "Idris Elba, Johnny Whitworth gear up for 'Ghost Rider 2'". The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved 6 October 2010.
- Jefferson, Lucette (22 February 2012). "Confirmed! Idris Elba set to play Nelson Mandela in Biopic". Huffington Post. Retrieved 23 February 2012.
- "Idris Elba Describes Chilling Night In Nelson Mandela's Prison (VIDEO)". Huffington Post. 7 December 2013. Retrieved 28 January 2015.
- Golden Globe Award for Best Actor – Motion Picture Drama
- "It's Official! Idris Elba Will Star in Guillermo del Toro's "Pacific Rim" (Black Superhero Next?)". Blogs.indiewire.com. Retrieved 28 December 2011.
- "Mandela actor Idris Elba confirms Luther film". The Mirror. 3 January 2014.
- Giggs – Hustle on official video on YouTube
- "He often has fewer lines than anyone else but you still feel as though he has the bigger part, because he is luminous". Movietome.com. Retrieved 11 April 2009.
- McMurtrie, John (11 February 2007). "Ties to 'Wire' cut – but new work calls". San Francisco Chronicle. Retrieved 11 April 2009.
- "Keri Hilson, The Dream and Idris Elba party with BET". S2Smagazine.com. Retrieved 29 July 2009.
- Morris, Davina (5 July 2009). "Man of many talents – Actor Idris Elba returns to his first love, music, with the release of his new single". Jamaica Gleaner. Retrieved 29 July 2009.
- Amber, Jeannine (13 July 2009). "ESSENCE August Issue: Sexy Talk With Idris Elba". Essence. Retrieved 14 August 2009.
- "High Class Problems". driis. 8 February 2010. Retrieved 28 December 2011.
- "K. Michelle To Star In Idris Elba Directed Musical". The Urban Daily. 3 February 2014. Retrieved 28 January 2015.
- "Kasabian's Serge Pizzorno and comedian Noel Fielding tease 'Wu-Tang Clan' live shows". Retrieved 15 September 2014.
- SKEPTA. "SHUTDOWN (IDRIS ELBA REMIX) by SKEPTA". SoundCloud. Retrieved 1 June 2015.
- "Journey Dot Africa with Idris Elba". BBC Radio 2. 28 October 2014. Retrieved 28 January 2015.
- "Idris Elba’s new Sky advert: why can't he wink?". Guardian. 29 November 2014. Retrieved 2 September 2015.
- "Idris Elba Becomes Anti Crime Ambassador". Looktothestars.com. Retrieved 11 April 2009.
- "Oona King can tackle violence, says The Wire star Idris Elba". Evening Standard. London. Retrieved 23 July 2003.
- Jeffries, Stuart (5 May 2009). "The Midas Touch". The Guardian. Retrieved 13 June 2011.
- Webber, Stephanie (18 April 2014). "Idris Elba Welcomes Baby Boy Winston With Naiyana Garth: First Picture". Us Weekly. Retrieved 28 January 2015.
- "The Reaping: Idris Elba Q&A". cinema.com. 2015. Retrieved 28 January 2015.
- Topel, Fred (30 November 1999). "Idris Elba: International Man". CraveOnline. Retrieved 28 January 2015.
- Singh, Amar (21 February 2011). "Arsenal can win the title! - Idris Elba, star of The Wire and Thor, on his love for the Gunners". Goal.com. Retrieved 28 January 2015.
- "People Magazine's 'Most Beautiful People' issue" (PDF). CBS News. Retrieved 11 April 2009.
- Penn, Charli (2013). "ESSENCE's 2013 Sexiest Man of the Year: 50 Reasons to Love Idris Elba". Essence.com. Retrieved 28 January 2015.
- "Sexiest Man Alive 2013: Adam Levine, David Beckham, Brad Pitt, Idris Elba". People.com. 2013. Retrieved 28 January 2015.
- "Mobo Awards 2014: Idris Elba receives inspiration award". The Daily Telegraph. Retrieved 22 February 2015.
- "50 Best Dressed Men in Britain 2015". GQ. 5 Jan 2015.
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