It’s true that Idris Elba is a little more established than our previous choices Britt Robertson and Alicia Vikander, but we think he deserves a lot more attention, especially stateside! I mean, have you seen him? As his character in The Office once said, “I’m aware of the effect I have on women.”
Though Elba has been in several hit TV shows and played key roles in successful films like American Gangster, The Avengers, Thor, and Prometheus, he’s never led his own successful U.S. series or film. Let’s recall some of his most fantastic and versatile career moments!
For most people, exposure to Idris began with his role as Russell ‘Stringer’ Bell in HBO’s The Wire. A pragmatic businessman and night student working hard to educate himself, Stringer Bell as a character could be said to represent the moral ambivalence of capitalism. On one hand, Stringer is working to better himself and leave a stifling environment, but his vehicle of upward mobility is selling drugs. Elba was faced with the challenge of playing an incredibly complex character riddled by societal and moral issues. He is so successful, that as the viewer, you find yourself siding with Stringer despite the horrible things he does because he does them for a logical purpose in a dispassionate way. The Wire let Elba showcase what he could do with a well-written character.
Though Elba is British, his next notable role was in the American version of The Office. His character, Charles Miner, was only in seven episodes, but definitely fit into the hilarious ensemble! And yes, all of the office was swooning.
Perhaps his most critically acclaimed role is that of DCI Luther in the BBC Detective show for which he won a Golden Globe. If The Wire showed us what Elba could do with great character writing, Luther showed us how he could carry a show with a fairly predictable “misunderstood Detective” story arch. Overshadowed by Ruth Wilson‘s character in terms of compelling character writing, Elba still managed to make Luther addictive to watch and a smash hit in the UK. It was successful enough that Elba is now producing an American version, which is in development.
Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom
Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom is one of the most powerful films we’ve seen in the past few years. Idris played the title role of Nelson Mandela, a South African lawyer who joined the African National Congress and was later sentenced to life imprisonment for treason. It’s a very passionate, dedicated portrayal by Idris that critics praised, and put him on everyone’s radar!
Pacific Rim is ultimately a CGI action-packed popcorn movie, but entertaining nonetheless. Idris played the leader and former Jaegar pilot Stacker Pentecost. It was a solid performance, and Idris dominated every scene (especially when yelling, “Today we are cancelling the apocalypse!”).
To sum up everything that is Idris Elba, we’ll leave you with the words of Mindy Kaling. When asked who she would dream cast to play one of Mindy’s love interests on The Mindy Project, Kaling immediately chose Idris saying:
“I love Idris Elba so much, and he was on The Office… and He’s super funny… and obviously he’s played Mandela, he had his own show on the BBC so he’s played a lot of serious parts but I would love for him to be on the show….he’s just so funny and of course, gorgeous!”
Coming up, you’ll be able to hear Idris’ angelic voice as Shere Khan in Jon Favreau’s Jungle Book and an unnamed character in the Finding Nemo sequel Finding Dory. We’re still waiting to see him as the leading man he deserves to be – the next James Bond perhaps?
What leading roles do you think Idris Elba could play? Tell us on The IF List >>