Idris Elba

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Idris Elba
Idris Elba 2007 Cropped.jpg
Elba at the 2007 American Music Awards
BornIdrissa Akuna Elba
(1972-09-06) 6 September 1972 (age 41)
Hackney, London, England
Other namesBig Dris
7 Wallace[1]
OccupationActor, film producer, singer, DJ
Years active1994–present
Spouse(s)Hanne "Kim" Norgaard (1998–2003; divorced)
Sonya Nicole Hamlin (2006; annulled)
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Idris Elba
Idris Elba 2007 Cropped.jpg
Elba at the 2007 American Music Awards
BornIdrissa Akuna Elba
(1972-09-06) 6 September 1972 (age 41)
Hackney, London, England
Other namesBig Dris
7 Wallace[1]
OccupationActor, film producer, singer, DJ
Years active1994–present
Spouse(s)Hanne "Kim" Norgaard (1998–2003; divorced)
Sonya Nicole Hamlin (2006; annulled)

Idrissa Akuna "Idris" Elba (/ˈɪdrəs ˈɛlbə/; born 6 September 1972)[2] is a British actor, producer, singer, rapper, and DJ.[3] He is best known for his portrayal of drug lord and aspiring businessman Russell "Stringer" Bell in the HBO series The Wire,[4] Detective John Luther in the BBC One series Luther, and Nelson Mandela in the biographical film Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom. Elba has been nominated for three Golden Globe Awards for Best Actor in a Miniseries or Television Film, winning one for Best Actor, as well as earning four Primetime Emmy Award nominations.[5][6]

Elba has appeared in films such as American Gangster (2007), Takers (2010), Thor (2011), Prometheus (2012), Pacific Rim (2013), and Thor: The Dark World (2013).[7][8] In addition to his acting work, he is a DJ under the moniker DJ Big Driis (or Big Driis the Londoner) and a hip-hop soul musician.[9]

Early life[edit]

Elba was born in Hackney, London. His father, Winston, was a Sierra Leonean who worked at a Ford motor factory, and his mother, Eve, was a Ghanaian who had a clerical job.[10] Elba's parents married in Sierra Leone and later moved to London.[11] Elba himself was raised in East Ham,[12] and shortened his first name at school in Canning Town, where he first became involved in acting. He began helping an uncle with his wedding DJ business in 1986; within a year, he had started his own DJ company with some of his friends.[2]

Elba left school in 1988 and won a place in the National Youth Music Theatre, thanks to a £1,500 Prince's Trust grant, but he ended up having to work in various jobs such as tyre-fitting and cold-call advertising sales to earn an income between roles in Crimewatch murder reconstructions.[13] He was working in nightclubs under the DJ nickname Big Driis at the age of 19, but began auditioning for television parts in his early twenties.[2] After a stint in the National Youth Music Theatre, he worked the night shift at Ford Dagenham.[13]

Acting career[edit]


In 1995, Elba landed his first role on a series called Bramwell, a medical drama set in 1890s England. He played the lead character in an episode of the first season, an African petty thief named Charlie Carter, who lost his white wife to childbirth and had to figure out how to support his newborn daughter. His first credited role arrived in 1995, with a supporting role as a gigolo on the "Sex" episode of Absolutely Fabulous. Many supporting roles on British television followed, including series such as The Bill and The Ruth Rendell Mysteries. He joined the cast of the soap opera Family Affairs,[2] and went on to appear in the television serial Ultraviolet and later in Dangerfield.[14] He decided to move to New York City soon after.[2] He returned to England occasionally for a television role, such as a part in one of the Inspector Lynley Mysteries. In 2001, Elba played Achilles in a stage production of Troilus and Cressida in New York City.[2]

After a supporting turn on a 2001 episode of Law & Order, Elba landed a starring role on a 2002 HBO drama, The Wire. From 2002 to 2004, Elba portrayed Russell "Stringer" Bell in the HBO drama series, perhaps his best-known role in the US. In 2005, he portrayed Captain Augustin Muganza in Sometimes in April, an HBO film about the Rwandan Genocide. Elba appeared on the 2007 BET special Black Men: The Truth.[15] Elba appeared as Charlie Gotso in The No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency, filmed in Botswana.[16] 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.[17]

In January 2009, it was reported per Variety that Elba would portray Charles Miner, a new rival to Dunder Mifflin regional manager Michael Scott (Steve Carell) for NBC's The Office.[16] Elba appeared in a six episode story arc later in the 2009 season as well as the season finale.[16] In September 2009, Elba signed a deal to star as the lead role in the 6-part BBC television show Luther, which aired in May 2010.[6] In October 2009, it NBC announced Elba as executive producer of an as yet untitled legal drama.[18] He appeared on Showtime's The Big C in 2010.[19] At the 69th Golden Globe Awards telecast on 15 January 2012, Elba won the Award for Best Actor in a Series, Mini-Series, or Motion Picture Made for Television for his role on the BBC crime thriller series Luther.[6]


In 2007, Elba signed on as the lead of the 2007 film Tyler Perry's Daddy's Little Girls, playing Monty, a blue-collar mechanic who falls in love with an attorney helping him gain custody of his kids, and finds the relationship and his custody hopes threatened by the return of his ex-wife. He appeared in 28 Weeks Later (2007) and This Christmas (2007), which brought in nearly $50 million at the box office in 2007.[20][21] In 2008, he starred in the horror film Prom Night and RocknRolla.[20] In 2009, he starred in horror film The Unborn and Obsessed.[22] The latter was a box office success, taking $29 million in its opening weekend.[23]

Elba's next film was Legacy (2010),[24] in which he portrayed a black ops soldier who returned to Brooklyn after a failed mission in Eastern Europe, where he undertook a journey looking for retribution.[24] He 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.[25] Filming took place in Puerto Rico and the movie was released in April 2010.[26] Elba appeared in the 2010 thriller Takers, also starring Hayden Christensen, Chris Brown, T.I., and Paul Walker. He played Heimdall in Kenneth Branagh's 2011 Thor film (based upon the Marvel Comics superhero of the same name).[27]

In August 2010, Elba signed up to portray the title character in a reboot of James Patterson's Alex Cross film franchise.[19] However in February 2011 he was replaced by Tyler Perry.[28] Elba appeared in the 2012 sequel, Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance, playing an alcoholic warrior monk tasked with finding Ghost Rider.[29] In February 2012, Elba confirmed that he would portray Nelson Mandela in the film Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom, which is based on the eponymous autobiography.[30] In June 2012, he portrayed Captain Janek in Prometheus. Elba joined the 2013 film Pacific Rim in the role of Stacker Pentecost.[31]

In January 2014, Elba confirmed that he would be starring in a film adaptation of Luther.[32]

Music career[edit]

In 2001, Elba appeared in music videos for Fat Joe, Angie Stone and English rapper Giggs.[33] In 2006, he recorded the four-song EP Big Man for Hevlar Records. He co-produced and performed on the intro to Jay-Z's 2007 album American Gangster.[34] He DJ'd at the 2007 NBA All Star parties at the The Venetian and Ice House Lounge in Las Vegas.[35]

In July 2009, Elba was the DJ for BET's new series Rising Icons.[36] Elba announced the release of his first single "Please Be True."[37] In the August 2009 issue of Essence magazine, he announced the name of his six-song EP as Kings Among Kings.[38] He released his EP High Class Problems Vol. 1 in the United Kingdom in February 2010, for which he has won many prizes including a Billboard Music Awards nomination.[39]

In 2011, he performed on the intro to Pharoahe Monch's album W.A.R.. In 2012, he co-directed and performed in the Mumford and Sons music video for "Lover of the Light".[40] In 2014 he produced K. Michelle's "The Rebellious Soul Musical" which debuted on "Vh1" on August 19 2014 [41]

Personal life[edit]

The Prince's Trust, which Elba credits with helping to start his career, appointed him its Anti-Crime Ambassador in April 2009.[42] In July 2010, he announced his support for Oona King in her campaign to become the Labour Party candidate for Mayor of London in 2012.[43]

Elba has an 11-year-old daughter, Isan from his ex-wife Dormowa Sherman. In 2014, Elba's girlfriend, Naiyana Garth gave birth to her and Elba's first son, Winston.[44]

When asked if he is a religious person, Elba replies that he is more spiritual than religious.[45][46] He has been a fan of Arsenal FC since he was a teenager.[47]


Elba was selected as one of People's annual 100 Most Beautiful People in the World in May 2007.[48]

Idris Elba was named Essence's annual 2013 Sexiest Man of the Year.[49]

He was also ranked #2 in People's annual Sexiest Man Alive in 2013.[50]



1999Belle mamanGrégoire
2001Buffalo SoldiersKimborough
2003One LoveAaron
2005Gospel, TheThe GospelCharles Frank
2005Sometimes in AprilAugustin
2007Tyler Perry's Daddy's Little GirlsMonty James
2007Reaping, TheThe ReapingBen
200728 Weeks LaterGeneral Stone
2007American GangsterTango
2007This ChristmasQuentin Whitfield
2008Prom NightDetective Winn
2008Human Contract, TheThe Human ContractLarry
2009Unborn, TheThe UnbornArthur Wyndham
2009ObsessedDerek Charles
2010TakersGordon Cozier
2010LegacyMalcolm GrayExecutive producer
2010Losers, TheThe LosersRoque
2012Ghost Rider: Spirit of VengeanceMoreau
2012PrometheusCaptain Janek
2013Pacific RimStacker Pentecost
2013Thor: The Dark WorldHeimdall
2013Mandela: Long Walk to FreedomNelson Mandela
2014No Good DeedExecutive producer
2015The GunmanDupont
2015Beasts of No NationFilming
2015The Jungle BookShere Khan (voice)


19942point4 ChildrenParachute InstructorEpisode: "Fortuosity"
1994Space PrecinctPizza Delivery ManEpisode: "Double Duty"
1995Absolutely FabulousHiltonEpisode: "Sex"
1996Crocodile Shoes IIJo-JoEpisode: "Troubled Man"
1997Family AffairsTim Webster
1997Silent WitnessCharlieEpisode: "Blood, Sweat & Tears"
1998UltravioletVaughan Rice6 episodes
1999DangerfieldMatt Gregory12 episodes
2000In DefencePC Paul Fraser1 episode
2002The Inspector Lynley MysteriesRobert GabrielEpisode: "Payment in Blood"
2003CSI MiamiAngelo SedarisEpisode: "The Best Defense"
2002–2004Wire, TheThe WireRussell "Stringer" Bell37 episodes
2005GirlfriendsPaulEpisode: "All in a Panic"
2005Sometimes in AprilAugustin Muganza
2008No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency, TheThe No. 1 Ladies' Detective AgencyCharles GotsoEpisode: "The No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency"
2009The OfficeCharles Miner7 episodes
2010Big C, TheThe Big CLenny4 episodes
2010Walk Like a PantherExecutive producer
2011Aqua Teen Hunger ForcePolice OfficerVoice
Episode: "Intervention"
2010–2013LutherDCI John LutherProducer
14 episodes
2011How Hip Hop Changed the WorldExecutive producer
2011Demons Never DieExecutive producer
2012Idris Elba's How Clubbing Changed the WorldPresenter
2013Idris Elba: King of SpeedPresenter

Video games[edit]

2011Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3SFC "Truck"
2014FIFA 15Voice in E3 Trailer

Music videos[edit]

2012Mumford and Sons"Lover of the Light"Blind ManCo-director, producer



Awards and nominations[edit]

2005Gospel, TheThe GospelBlack Reel Award for Best ActorNominated
2005Sometimes in AprilBlack Reel Award for Best Actor: T.V. Movie/CableNominated
2005Sometimes in AprilNAACP Image Award for Outstanding Actor in a Television Movie, Mini-Series or Dramatic SpecialNominated
2007Tyler Perry's Daddy's Little GirlsBET Award for Actors of the YearNominated
2007American GangsterScreen Actors Guild Award for Outstanding Performance by a Cast in a Motion PictureNominated
2008BET Award for Best ActorNominated
2009BET Award for Best ActorNominated
2009ObsessedNAACP Image Award for Outstanding Actor in a Motion PictureNominated
2010BET Award for Best ActorWon
2010TakersBlack Reel Award for Best EnsembleNominated
2010LutherGolden Globe Award for Best Actor – Miniseries or Television FilmNominated
2011TakersNAACP Image Award for Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Motion PictureNominated
2011BET Award for Best ActorWon
2011LutherNAACP Image Award for Outstanding Actor in a Television Movie, Mini-Series or Dramatic SpecialWon
2011Big C, TheThe Big CPrimetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Guest Actor in a Comedy SeriesNominated
2011LutherGolden Globe Award for Best Actor – Miniseries or Television FilmWon
2011LutherPrimetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Lead Actor in a Miniseries or a MovieNominated
2011LutherSatellite Award for Best Actor - Miniseries or Television FilmNominated
2012LutherBlack Reel Award for Best Actor: T.V. Movie/CableWon
2012LutherPrimetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Lead Actor in a Miniseries or a MovieNominated
2012BET Award for Best ActorNominated
2014Mandela: Long Walk to FreedomGolden Globe Award for Best Actor - Motion Picture DramaNominated
2014LutherGolden Globe Award for Best Actor – Miniseries or Television FilmNominated
2014LutherNAACP Image Award for Outstanding Actor in a Television Movie, Mini-Series or Dramatic SpecialWon
2014LutherPrimetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Lead Actor in a Miniseries or a MovieNominated


  1. ^ "Idris Elba on Prometheus, Learning to Box, and His Party House". 6/8/12. Retrieved 14 October 2013. 
  2. ^ a b c d e f Esther Addley (20 March 2008). "He often has fewer lines than anyone else but you still feel as though he has the bigger part, because he is luminous". The Guardian. Retrieved 23 August 2013. 
  3. ^ "Why black British directors and actors leave the UK for Hollywood". The Guardian. 29 August 2013. Retrieved 14 October 2013. 
  4. ^ "The Wire Cast and Crew: Idris Elba, Rusell "Stringer" Bell". Retrieved 11 April 2009. 
  5. ^
  6. ^ a b c "Wire actor Elba joins BBC drama". BBC News. 4 September 2009. Retrieved 7 September 2009. 
  7. ^ French, Philip (13 July 2013). "Pacific Rim – review". The Observer (London). Retrieved 17 July 2013. 
  8. ^ Hornaday, Ann (11 July 2013). "'Pacific Rim' review: A rock ’em, sock ’em sci-fi spectacle with heart". The Washington Post. Retrieved 17 July 2013. 
  9. ^ Canada, Danielle (13 September 2011). "Idris Elba (Driis) Releases New Music Video "Secret Garden"". 
  10. ^ Henry Fitzherbert, Daily Express, Thursday 24 May 2012, Idris Elba: Obama loves him and now he's playing Mandela
  11. ^ Miranda Sawyer, The Observer, 24 January 2010, Idris Elba: life after 'Stringer' Bell
  12. ^ Stuart Jeffries (9 May 2009). "The Midas Touch". The Guardian (London). Retrieved 29 July 2009. 
  13. ^ a b Chris Ayres (23 August 2008). "Life as a RocknRolla: meet the crafty Cockney Idris Elba". The Times (London). Retrieved 11 April 2009. 
  14. ^ "Idris Elba- Biography". Yahoo! Movies. Retrieved 17 July 2013. 
  15. ^ "Idris Elba". Retrieved 17 July 2013. 
  16. ^ a b c Thomas, Archie (25 March 2008). "'Detective Agency' finds big auds". Variety. Retrieved 11 April 2009. 
  17. ^ Plunkett, John (25 March 2008). "Minghella's last film watched by 6.3m". The Guardian (London). Retrieved 11 April 2009. 
  18. ^ "Actor Idris Elbia developing NBC legal drama". Reuters. 28 October 2009. Retrieved 2 November 2009. 
  19. ^ a b "Idris Elba Is New Alex Cross in Relaunched James Patterson Film Franchise". Deadline. Retrieved 19 August 2010. 
  20. ^ a b "Idris Elba and Columbus Short Interview, This Christmas". Retrieved 11 April 2009. 
  21. ^ "This Christmas". Retrieved 11 April 2009. 
  22. ^ "Idris Elba And Beyonce To Play Married Couple In 'Obsessed'". Retrieved 11 April 2009. 
  23. ^ "Weekend Report: Moviegoers Fixate on 'Obsessed'". Retrieved 26 April 2009. 
  24. ^ a b "Idris Elba gets his kit off on set". UKPA. 8 July 2009. Retrieved 21 July 2009. 
  25. ^ "Idris Elba Confirmed For 'The Losers,' Zoe Saldana Playing Aisha". MTV. Retrieved 11 April 2009. 
  26. ^ ""The Losers" Commences Production for Dark Castle Entertainment". Business Wire. 29 July 2009. Retrieved 5 August 2009. 
  27. ^ "Idris Elba joins Marvel Studios' 'Thor'". The Hollywood Reporter. 20 November 2009. Retrieved 20 November 2009. 
  28. ^ Bierly, Mandi (1 February 2011). "Tyler Perry in, Idris Elba out of Alex Cross reboot: Producer explains why – EXCLUSIVE". Entertainment Weekly. Retrieved 18 September 2011. 
  29. ^ Boris Kit (5 October 2010). "Idris Elba, Johnny Whitworth gear up for 'Ghost Rider 2'". The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved 6 October 2010. 
  30. ^ Jefferson, Lucette (22 February 2012). "Confirmed! Idris Elba set to play Nelson Mandela in Biopic". Huffington Post. Retrieved 23 February 2012. 
  31. ^ "It's Official! Idris Elba Will Star in Guillermo del Toro's "Pacific Rim" (Black Superhero Next?)". Retrieved 28 December 2011. 
  32. ^ "Mandela actor Idris Elba confirms Luther film". The Mirror. 3 January 2014. 
  33. ^ Giggs – Hustle on official video on YouTube
  34. ^ "He often has fewer lines than anyone else but you still feel as though he has the bigger part, because he is luminous". Retrieved 11 April 2009. 
  35. ^ John McMurtrie (11 February 2007). "Ties to 'Wire' cut – but new work calls". San Francisco Chronicle. Retrieved 11 April 2009. 
  36. ^ "Keri Hilson, The Dream and Idris Elba party with BET". Retrieved 29 July 2009. 
  37. ^ Davina Morris (5 July 2009). "Man of many talents – Actor Idris Elba returns to his first love, music, with the release of his new single". Jamaica Gleaner. Retrieved 29 July 2009. 
  38. ^ Jeannine Amber (13 July 2009). "ESSENCE August Issue: Sexy Talk With Idris Elba". Essence. Retrieved 14 August 2009. 
  39. ^ "High Class Problems". driis. 8 February 2010. Retrieved 28 December 2011. 
  40. ^ MTV
  41. ^ [1]
  42. ^ "Idris Elba Becomes Anti Crime Ambassador". Retrieved 11 April 2009. 
  43. ^ "Oona King can tackle violence, says The Wire star Idris Elba". Evening Standard. London. Retrieved 23 July 2003. 
  44. ^
  45. ^ article
  46. ^ CraveOnline
  47. ^ "Arsenal can win the title! – Idris Elba". 
  48. ^ "People Magazine's 'Most Beautiful People' issue". CBS News. Retrieved 11 April 2009. 
  49. ^ "ESSENCE's 2013 Sexiest Man of the Year: 50 Reasons to Love Idris Elba". 
  50. ^ "Sexiest Man Alive 2013 – Sneak Peek: The Sexiest Man Alive Revealed". 

External links[edit]