Idris Elba on The Gunman, DJing, moving to London and why he doesn’t prefer being the next 007
EVEN as Idris Elba’s Beasts of No Nation is mired in controversy (the movie will be premiering online along with its release in theatres), the 42-year-old British actor is also awaiting the release of his much-talked-about-film, The Gunman, directed by Pierre Morel, which stars Sean Penn and Ray Winstone. Based on Jean Patrick Manchette’s book Prone Gunman, the movie is a gripping action thriller, in which he plays a government official. Well known for his films Mandela: Long Walk To Freedom, American Gangster and Thor, the actor has had a significant presence in television too, with shows like Law and Order and as Russell Stringer Bell in The Wire. Now starting to shoot for a two-part Luther, in which he reprises the role of a troubled cop, the three-time Golden Globe nominated actor is also a DJ and musician. More from him about The Gunman:
What was it like to work with Pierre Morel and Sean Penn.
I was a fan of Morel’s Taken; it’s an incredible film. The way it was shot was incredible. It is very tough to show good action and he did it really well. So, when I was chosen for The Gunman, I was very excited. The way Sean works is very real. Only a few action heros can do both jobs incredibly—give you a real character and run around with friends in a car. Sean Penn is one of them. I really haven’t read the script because I just said I will do it to Sean.
Were you nervous when you
found out that you would be working with massive stars?
Yes, a little bit. Sean Penn is such a formidable and powerful actor, any actor seen with him is probably thinking about what to do. So yes, I was a little nervous.
Do you agree that even tough guys in action movies have a soft side?
All the actors in this film have a tough and a soft side. I think women have been hugging and cuddling tough guys with softer sides on screen, for years.
Tell us about your DJing
I am doing enough for the season. You will definitely see me around. I love to DJ, it’s my hobby.
Do you worry that people will not accept you
as an actor?
I did worry that it might water down how people see what I do as an actor. Because my music is so much more truthful about my art—me—than my acting is. Music comes from my soul. I can connect with people more through my music.
There was speculation about you becoming the next Bond.
I just don’t want to be the black James Bond. Sean Connery wasn’t the Scottish James Bond and Daniel Craig wasn’t the blue-eyed James Bond. So if I played him, I don’t want to be called the black James Bond.
You moved back to London from LA. That’s the opposite of what most people do. Why?
I don’t want my family growing up here. That isn’t me, it just isn’t. I’m not into the whole fame thing either. I don’t have celebrity friends. I have the same ones I had from when I was a kid and, for me, it’s about my family and what is best for them.
We hear you perform your own stunts. Comment.
I do a lot of my own stunts. There aren’t many stunt guys who look like me. So I land up doing my own stuff (laughs).
The Gunman is scheduled to release on March 20.