An Exclusive Interview with Idris Elba
By Wilson Morales
August 4, 2008
Of the many films that were showcased at this year's Comic Con in San Diego, one of the few films that were entertaining just on talent, comedy, and coolness was 'RocknRolla', which brings Guy Ritchie back to the directing chair again. Just like his earlier hits with 'Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels', and 'Snatch', his latest film is also a caper that stars Gerald Butler, Thandie Newton, Ludacris, Tom Wilkinson, and Idris Elba. For Elba, the film gave him a chance to not only come home to London and shoot, but he also was able to talk in native tongue, which we don't see in his other films.
In speaking to exclusively to blackfilm.com, Elba talks about working on this film with Ritchie, the types of films he wants to do, and his upcoming film with Beyonce Knowles.
What role do you play in the film?
Idris Elba: In 'RocknRolla', I play a character called 'Mumbles', and he's part of a really small time gang of crooks that are in involved in this big caper that happens in this movie. My character is a typical London guy, smart, but on the streets hustling.
What attracted you to work in a Guy Ritchie film?
IE: I love him and I'm a big fan of his films, as most people are. I like his style and genre and I wanted to be part of that legacy. It is a legacu because his movies have done so well; and he's original. I'm original and I wanted to be a part of that. I was very attracted to the script. It's really funny and of course, the cast is amazing.
What was it like on the set, on and off?
IE: The set was really regiment and well done and put together quite nicely. With all the big names in it, it was smooth, but at the same time, it was like, 'Yo, bring your 'A' game'. We were all doing our best work.
Did you shoot the film back home in London?
IE: Yes. It was good for me. Just being back home in London where I was raised, and I started my acting career in England, so it felt very familiar.
Do you get to speak with your natural tongue, British, or are you speaking with an American accent?
IE: I'm speaking British as I am.I based my character on a really good friend of mine who was one of the extras as well.
What was the most challenging/ entertaining aspect while on this film?
IE: The script spoke for itself. It was a lot of action involved in this, lots of physicality, but the script spoke for itself. The challenge was to do right by Guy Ritchie's flmmaking skills. I want to be that character that you remember or that scene like in the 'Snatch' film.
With the amount of films that you have done so far, you've been able to shed 'Stringer Bell' as your only claim to fame. What sort of films are you looking to do?
IE: I've been moving into more leading roles, and getting to play characters that show depth and integrity and all that kind of stuff. There are some historical pieces that I wouldn't mind looking at and some stuff that touches on the political arena and some stuff that touches with social issues. Typically, I just want to continue my arc. I've played everything from gangsters to lawyers to fathers to sports people, and I want to continue that motion and that movement and I want to do more films back home in England. I want to do more films in Africa, and just be an around home hitter.
You also have a film with Meagan Good called 'The Unborn', which is directed by David Goyer. What is your role in that film?
IE: In that movie, I play a good guy that turns bad. I can't say more on the film for now, but it goes down really ugly.
Goyer is mostly known as a screenwriter, so what's it like working with him as a director?
IE; It's nice and very good. He knows exactly what he wants. The thing about being a director is that you have to know what you want. The vision and the imagery. You have to have the vision. The imagery can be manipulated with the cameras, but you have to know what you want to shoot and how you want it shot. I liked working with him a lot.
How about working with Meagan?
IE: I didn't do any scenes with Meagan.
In 'RocknRolla,', Ludacris is also in the film, and with him being a rapper and you're a DJ when off the set, did you two jive afterwards?
IE: I did a song that I will try to put on the mix tapes for the film, and I asked he wanted to get down with me on it before I did it and he declined; but that's all love. Ludacris is about to go in the studio soon and finish up his album, and I'm working on an album with my producer 9th Wonder and from Little Brother. 2009 sees me doing more music.
What keeps you grounded?
IE: I go home to a family. I enjoy family life. I center myself to who I really am. That's important to me. When you have been doing this for a long time as I have, it's rare that you will get consumed by the fame and fortune of it all. If you do, at this late stage, the likelihood is that you are going to fall down quickly. If you stay grounded, you will go on for a long time.
What else do you have coming up?
IE: I also have a film called 'Bone Deep'. I'm not sure if the title will stay the same when it comes out, but it's a heist movie with myself, Matt Dillion, T.I, Chris Brown, and maybe Jay Hernandez. It's a big heist movie, and very sexy and slick. Then there's a film called 'Obsessed' with me and Beyonce Knowles and Ali Larter and it's a thriller.
How's working with Beyonce on that film?
IE: Beyonce is a very focused and prepared actress. She's good and I'm not just saying that. I don't give out compliments because I don't need to, but I was impressed with her work. Me and her are husband and wife in a very human story and she's pulls it down. She's does a great job.