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.”
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.
Photos courtesy of WENN, Avalon Red.