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Idris Elba

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Idrissa Akuna "Idris" Elba(born 6 September 1972)[1] is an English[3] television, theatre, and film actor who has starred in both British and American productions. Idris Elba grew up in Canning Town, East London.[1] One of his first acting roles was in the soap opera Family Affairs.[4] He has worked in a variety of TV roles including Ultraviolet and The Inspector Lynley Mysteries.[1] He is also known for playing Russell "Stringer" Bell, the drug dealer who aspired to become a high powered businessman, in HBO's The Wire.[5] Elba is also a DJ under the moniker DJ Big Driis / Big Driis the Londoner, and a hip-hop soul recording artist.[1]

In 2009, Elba began playing a character in NBC's television hit series The Office. He was in six episodes playing Charles Miner, Michael Scott's new boss. In 2010, he appeared in Dark Castle Entertainment'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. The same year, he appeared in the thriller Takers starring T.I., Chris Brown, Michael Ealy, Zoe Saldana and Matt Dillon. In September 2009, Elba took the lead in 6-part BBC television show Luther which aired from May 4, 2010 on BBC One.[6][7]

[edit] Early lifeEdit

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.[2] His father is a Sierra Leonean and his mother is a Ghanaian.[1][2] Elba grew up in East Ham.[8] He began helping an uncle with his wedding-DJ business at age 14, and within a year had started his own DJ company with some friends.[4][9] He left school at 16 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.[10] He was working in nightclubs under the DJ nickname Big Driis by the age of 19, but began auditioning for television parts in his early twenties.[4][9] 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.[10] Elba started acting in secondary school (Trinity Comprehensive, Barking Road, Canning Town) with encouragement from his drama teacher (Susan McPhee).

Television workEdit

Although his film, television, and stage work officially commenced around 1992, in 1995 he landed his first role on a series called Bramwell, a medical drama set in 1890s England.[9] Elba's first credited role arrived in 1995, with a supporting role as a gigolo on the episode of the farcical series Absolutely Fabulous, entitled "Sex."[2][11] Many supporting roles on British television followed, including such series as The Bill, Degrees of Error, The Ruth Rendell Mysteries, and The Governor.[11] He then joined the cast of the soap opera Family Affairs and rose to prominence in the acclaimed serial Ultraviolet.[2] Elba went on to appear in a more established television series, Dangerfield, in 1999 as a forensic scientist.[9]

Soon, however, he decided to move to New York City (NY).[4][9] He returned to England occasionally for a job, such as a part in one of the Inspector Lynley Mysteries, a top-rated crime series.[9] In 2001, Elba acted as Achilles in the stage play Troilus and Cressida in NYC.[4] After a supporting turn on a 2001 episode of Law & Order, Elba landed a starring role on a 2002 HBO drama, The Wire.[11] From 2002 to 2004, Elba portrayed Russell "Stringer" Bell in the HBO drama series, perhaps his best known role. In 2005, he also portrayed Captain Augustin Muganza in Sometimes in April, an HBO film about the Rwandan Genocide.[11] Elba also appeared on the 2007 Black Entertainment Television special Black Men:The Truth.[12] Elba also appeared in the role of Charlie Kgotso in The No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency opposite Jill Scott and Anika Noni Rose, which filmed in Botswana.[13] 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.[14]

In January 2009, it was reported per Variety that Elba will portray Charles Miner, a new rival to Dunder Mifflin regional manager Michael Scott (Steve Carell) for NBC's The Office.[13] Elba appeared in a six episode story arc later in the 2009 season as well as the season finale.[13] In September 2009, Elba signed a deal to star as the lead role in a 6-part BBC television show called Luther to be aired in May 2010.[7] In October 2009, it was announced that Elba will executive produce an untitled legal drama for NBC.[15] Elba will portray Laura Linney's lover in Showtime's The Big C for an unknown number of episodes in 2010.[16]


Early WorkEdit

In 2006, Elba also signed on as the lead of the 2007 comedy Tyler Perry's Daddy's Little Girls, playing Monty, a blue-collar mechanic who falls in love with a six-figure attorney (Gabrielle Union) helping him gain custody of his kids, and finds the relationship and his custody hopes threatened by the re-arrival of his ex-wife.[11] He also joined the supporting cast of Juan Carlos Fresnadillo's 28 Weeks Later, the horror-themed sequel to Danny Boyle's 2002 zombie picture 28 Days Later also released in 2007.[11] He played "Tango" in the 2007 thriller American Gangster alongside Denzel Washington and Russell Crowe. He filmed This Christmas with Chris Brown, Mekhi Phifer, Loretta Devine and Regina King, which brought in nearly $50 million at the box office in 2007.[17][18]

[edit] 2008–presentEdit

In 2008, Elba starred in the horror film Prom Night and Guy Ritchie's RocknRolla.[17] In January 2009, Elba starred in horror film The Unborn. He also starred in Obsessed, alongside Beyonce Knowles and Ali Larter, as an asset manager who has a beautiful wife (Knowles) and thriving career until a temp office worker (Larter) begins stalking him.[19] Obsessed was a box office success after it took in $29 million in its opening weekend.[20] Obsessed was released on DVD on 4 August 2009.[21]

Elba next film was 2010's Legacy [22] in which he portrayed a black ops soldier, Malcolm, who returned to Brooklyn after a failed mission in Eastern Europe, where he undertook a journey looking for retribution.[22] He posted a picture of himself from the set on his Twitter page. Elba then 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.[23] Filming took place in Puerto Rico and the movie was released in April 2010.[24] Elba will next be seen in the 2010 thriller Takers also starring Hayden Christensen, Chris Brown, T.I., and Paul Walker. Elba has joined the cast of Kenneth Branagh's upcoming Thor film, in which he will play Heimdall.[25] In August 2010, it was announced that Elba will portray the title role in James Patterson's Cross franchise.[16] He also played a role in Pacific Rim and reprised his role in Thor: The Dark World.

Music careerEdit

In 2001, Elba appeared in music videos for Fat Joe, Angie Stone[9] and British rapper Giggs.[26] In 2006, Elba recorded the four-song EP Big Man for Hevlar Records.[2] He also co-produced and performed on the intro to Jay-Z's 2007 album American Gangster.[27] He also DJ'd at the 2007 NBA All Star parties at the Venetian Hotel and Ice House Lounge in Las Vegas.[28] Elba also appeared in the Respect My Conglomerate[29] music video for Busta Rhymes's 2009 Back on My BS album. In July 2009, Elba was the DJ for BET's new series "Rising Icons".[30] Elba also announced the release of his first single "Please Be True."[31] Elba is currently working on his second EP, and plans to tour Europe in late 2009.[32] In the August 2009 issue of Essence magazine, Elba announced the name of his six-song EP as Kings Among Kings.[33]

Personal lifeEdit

Elba is currently divorced.[34] He and his ex-wife have a daughter named Isan, born in 2002.[10] Though the two split four years after the birth of their child, it is rumored that they are still very good friends. They have been photographed out together on many occasions since the divorce, but neither cares to comment on speculations.[28] Elba is a friend of rappers such as Diddy and Ludacris, and spends much of his time in Atlanta, where he owns a house and lives close to his daughter.[10] He is represented by ICM.[35] In April 2009, it was announced that Elba has become an Anti-Crime Ambassador[36] and in July 2010, Elba announced his support for Oona King in her campaign to become the Labour Party candidate for Mayor of London in 2012.[37]

Elba is a fan of London football team Arsenal FC, despite his father being a Manchester United fan.[38]

In the mediaEdit

He was featured as one of the "Ten Hottest Men on the Planet" in the April 2004 issue of Essence magazine and again in the November 2005 issue.[2] Idris was chosen as one of People Magazine's annual 100 Most Beautiful People in the World, in May 2007.[39] Elba appeared on the August 2009 cover of Essence magazine.[33] He also appeared on the August 2010 cover of Ebony magazine.[40]


Year Film/Television Role Notes and Awards
1995 Absolutely Fabulous Gigolo Episode: Sex
1997 Family Affairs Tim Webster
1998 Ultraviolet Vaughan Rice
1999 Belle maman Grégoire
Dangerfield Matt Gregory
2000 Sorted Jam
In Defence PC Paul Fraser (Segment 3)
2001 Buffalo Soldiers Kimborough
2002 The Inspector Lynley Mysteries Robert Gabriel Episode: Payment in Blood
The Wire Russell 'Stringer' Bell
2003 One Love Aaron
2005 Sometimes in April Augustin Muganza Nominated – Black Reel Award, Best Actor Network/Cable
Nominated – Image Award, Outstanding Actor in a TV Movie/Mini-Series
The Gospel Charles Frank Nominated – Black Reel Award, Best Actor- Film
2007 Tyler Perry's Daddy's Little Girls Monty James Nominated – BET Award for Actors of the Year
The Reaping Ben
28 Weeks Later General Stone
American Gangster Tango Nominated – Screen Actors Guild Award for Outstanding Performance by a Cast in a Motion Picture
This Christmas Quentin Whitfield
2008 The No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency Charles Gotso
Prom Night Detective Winn
RocknRolla Mumbles
The Human Contract Larry
2009 The Unborn Arthur Wyndham
The Office Charles Miner Appeared in several season 5 episodes
Obsessed Derek Charles Nominated - Image Award, Outstanding Actor in a Motion Picture
2010 Takers Gordon Cozier
Legacy Malcolm Gray
The Big C Lenny
Luther DCI John Luther
The Losers Roque
2011 Thor Heimdall
2012 Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance
2013 [Pacific Rim]
[Thor: The Dark World] Heimdall


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