Idris Elba talks about whether he would work with an accused predator

BBC One Luther Series 5 Photocall, London, UK

Idris Elba is, as always, promoting an assortment of projects, like his Netflix series Turn Up Charlie, and his directorial debut Yardie. That’s why he hosted Saturday Night Live and that’s why he sat down with the Hollywood Reporter to chat about his career, #MeToo and how he managed to get so much work in America (hint, a good American accent and The Wire). You can read the full piece here – you can actually feel Idris flirting a bit with the interviewer, in between talking about his plans to wed his fiancee next month. It’s an enjoyable read. Some highlights:

Why he works so much: “It’s not about the money. It’s that I watched my dad die [in 2013]. And he and I had big plans. There was this sense of, ‘You’re going to go to America and make it, son,’ and I did and I wanted to come back and share it with him. But by that time, he wasn’t well, so I never got the chance to show him the fruits of my labor. We’d talked about all the things he could have if I made it, but then he got sick. It was heartbreaking, but it also grounded the f–k out of me. So, when someone tells me, ‘You’re doing a bit too much.’ I’m like, ‘I’m going to die one day. I’m going to take that last breath, and you know what I don’t want to be thinking when I do? I should’ve done that.’ ”

Trying to get work in America in his early days: “Back then, the U.K. black actors didn’t even go up for African-American roles. The feeling was, why would they? You go to McDonald’s to get burgers. You don’t go into McDonald’s to get fish and chips.”

On #MeToo: When I try to ask about an early February report of him being in talks to star in Deeper, a sci-fi thriller written by Max Landis, who’s been accused of sexual misconduct, Elba stops me before I can articulate the full question. “I wasn’t signed on,” he says. “It was a rumor.” Still, my question holds: How does he draw the line between who to work with and who not to? It is the first and only time since Elba sat down that he isn’t entirely at ease. “If any individual that’s involved in a [story] that you want to tell is [also] involved in something that personally dismantles the value of the project, that’s just common sense, you do what’s right,” he says, without explicitly stating what that entails. “But I don’t approach a story thinking about whether someone has been this or that. If it arises in the scenario, then that’s something you deal with.”

[From The Hollywood Reporter]

The journalist doesn’t press, but I would have been interested in his answer to a follow-up question of “but HOW do you deal with it when an accused predator is part of the project?” Granted, I trust Idris in a general sense. I trust that he’s not out there, abusing women or harassing them or anything like that. He also seems like a man who has a low tolerance for that in other men, and coworkers. That being said, too many predators have been outed and I don’t really have faith that all of my faves will be able to avoid working with every single problematic person for their rest of their careers. So I would like to know how Idris deals with it. My guess is that he’ll deal with it on a case by case basis.

Vanity Fair Oscar Party

Photos courtesy of WENN, Avalon Red.

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15 Responses to “Idris Elba talks about whether he would work with an accused predator”

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  1. Lucia says:

    That quote about his father is heartbreaking. I’m currently there in trying to balance all the things I want to do while I know I still can. My life is by no means certain. So I get where his head is at.

    I think Idris is where we’re all at in the post #MeToo era. I know I take things on a case by case basis too. Although most of cases involve me giving someone accused the finger but not everyone. I love George Takei’s facebook and he got accused but it turned out to be seemingly false and I don’t feel bad supporting him. I see nothing wrong with that approach.

  2. Lucy says:

    Back when #MeToo exploded, he said something like “only those men who’re guilty have something to fear”, in reference to all the dudes who complained about feeling like they no longer could have contact with a woman. That alone spoke volumes of him to me. I believe that he would do what’s right, should he ever find himself in that situation.

  3. Valiantly Varnished says:

    His comment makes sense. I think we do have to take it case by case. Especially if you work in Hollywood. For instance is James Gunn on the same level as Woody Allen? Of course not. I think if actors had to go by the thought process of never working with problematic producers, directors, etc they would never work. Instead I think the focus has to be on cultivating new talent and diversity behind the scenes that can eventually push these guys out.

  4. Ann says:

    He’s going to be doing a DJ set at Coachella this year. I’m not going but when I saw that he’ll be doing a set (a pretty long one, if I recall correctly, like 2 hours) I was tempted to buy a wristband. Alas, this year I cannot afford it and will be missing Charles Minor tearing it up.

  5. perplexed says:

    Is it possible to commit to an absolute “no” in Hollywood? You could accidentally wind up working with a predator you didn’t know was a predator until after it comes out. Obviously, there are cases like Woody Allen where you already know the details (although I’m not sure that Woody Allen actually casts African-Americans in anything), but there are probably lesser famous people who are doing things and you probably wouldn’t know until the media catches wind of the fact during the press tour (i.e the guy who directed the movie Gabrielle Union was in — how would she have known if he wasn’t famous for anyone to really know what he did?)

    I think his answer makes sense within the context of the industry he’s working in.

    • Elise says:

      Well, since Idris Elba isn’t African-American, maybe Woody would be interested. (I don’t think Elba would be, though!)

      • perplexed says:

        You’re right. My apologies. He’s not African-American. He’s British.

        I wonder if Allen would still cast him. With the exception of Freida Pinto, it’s hard for me to come up with a person of colour who has been in one of his films. All of his films look really, really white to me.

  6. Fluffy Princess says:

    Idris Elba. Yes. Yes. yes. That’s all I’ve got.

  7. Mia4s says:

    ““I wasn’t signed on,”

    ….OK Idris. But reputable trades reported you were in talks…not just “attached”…but in talks. But then you were called out and we are going with ““I wasn’t signed on,”. Well isn’t that fortunate.

    OK Idris…OK. 😒
    Keep the pressure on. Even on the supposed “good ones”. Apparently they need reminders.

    • Elise says:

      I suspect that when we see that someone is “in talks,” it means that their agency is doing the talking, and the principal may not even know about it yet. I gather this happens a lot. Look, for instance, at the lawsuits the WGA has brought against several large talent agencies for conflicts of interest.

  8. Boxy Lady says:

    Why is the onus of working with predators only falling on the actors? Why aren’t people approaching the guilds in the industry to push out these predators? I mean, chances are, if an actor refuses a part, for whatever reason, another actor will just be hired in their place. Doesn’t really solve the predator problem, does it?