Idrissa Akuna Elba was born on September 6, 1972, in the Hackney section of East London, England. An only child of Sierra Leonean and Ghanaian descent, Elba eventually attended the National Youth Music Theatre’s training programs. He landed a number of British television roles and worked with his father in a car factory before eventually making his way to America. He settled in Brooklyn, New York, and Jersey City, New Jersey, working as a doorman at the comedy club Carolines and DJing while struggling to make ends meet.
Idris Elba got his major break starring as crime boss “Stringer” Bell on several seasons of the highly acclaimed HBO drama The Wire. Other parts followed, though Elba later lamented that he was continuing to get lots of offers for gangster roles during this time.
The statuesque Elba transitioned to a big-screen career as well, landing film roles in a variety of genres. He starred as a mechanic in director Tyler Perry’s feature Daddy’s Little Girls (2007), a general in the zombie-laden 28 Weeks Later (2007) and a devoted husband opposite BeyoncÃ© Knowles inObsession (2009). Sci-fi/fantasy beckoned to the actor as well, as seen with his roles as Norse god Heimdall in Marvel Comics’ Thor (2011), directed by Kenneth Branagh, and as ship captain Janek in Ridley Scott’s Prometheus(2012). Other films on Elba’s roster from this period include This Christmas(2007) and RocknRolla (2008).
‘Luther’ and ‘Mandela’
Elba also continued his TV work over the years with series like The Office,The Big C and The No. 1 Ladies Detective Agency. The actor has received multiple Emmy Award nominations and won a 2012 Golden Globe Award for his lead role on the BBC America series Luther, as a driven yet tortured detective whose conduct brings up ethical issues.
In the summer of 2013, Elba was seen as Stacker Pentecost in Guillermo del Toro’s robotics-and-monsters flick Pacific Rim. That fall, he earned raves for his portrayal of President Nelson Mandela in the film Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom, starring opposite Naomie Harris as Winnie Mandela. The actor earned Oscar buzz and was nominated for a Best Actor Golden Globe for his performance as the famed South African activist. (He lost the Globe to Matthew McConaughey, who won for his lead role in 2013’s Dallas Buyers Club.)
Elba stars in the upcoming thriller No Good Deed (2014), directed by Sam Miller. He has several other film projects in the works, including A Hundred Streets and Beasts of No Nation.
Elba has continued to spin as a DJ internationally. He’s also performed as a singer and rapper, going by the name (Big) Driis.
Awards and honors
Elba was selected as one of Peopleâ€â€â€Š’â€‹â€s annual 100 Most Beautiful People in the World in May 2007.
Idris Elba was named Essenceâ€â€â€Š’â€‹â€s annual 2013 Sexiest Man of the Year.
He was also ranked #2 in Peopleâ€â€â€Š’â€‹â€s annual Sexiest Man Alive in 2013.
In October 2014, Elba was presented with a MOBO Inspiration Award.
In 2015, he was named one of GQâ€â€Š’â€‹s 50 best dressed British men.
|2005||The Gospel||Charles Frank|
|2005||Sometimes in April||Augustin|
|2007||Tyler Perry’s Daddy’s Little Girls||Monty James|
|2007||28 Weeks Later||General Stone|
|2007||This Christmas||Quentin Whitfield|
|2008||Prom Night||Detective Winn|
|2008||The Human Contract||Larry|
|2009||The Unborn||Arthur Wyndham|
|2010||Legacy||Malcolm Gray||Executive producer|
|2012||Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance||Moreau|
|2013||Pacific Rim||Stacker Pentecost|
|2013||Thor: The Dark World||Heimdall|
|2013||Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom||Nelson Mandela|
|2014||No Good Deed||Colin Evans||Executive producer|
|2015||Avengers: Age of Ultron||Heimdall|
|2015||Beasts of No Nation||Filming|
|2016||The Jungle Book||Shere Khan (voice)||Filming|
|2016||Finding Dory||Dr. Mobster (voice)||Filming|
|1994||2point4 Children||Parachute Instructor||Episode: “Fortuosity”|
|1994||Space Precinct||Pizza Delivery Man||Episode: “Double Duty”|
|1995||Absolutely Fabulous||Hilton||Episode: “Sex”|
|1996||Crocodile Shoes II||Jo-Jo||Episode: “Troubled Man”|
|1997||Family Affairs||Tim Webster|
|1997||Silent Witness||Charlie||Episode: “Blood, Sweat & Tears”|
|1998||Ultraviolet||Vaughan Rice||6 episodes|
|1999||Dangerfield||Matt Gregory||12 episodes|
|2000||In Defence||PC Paul Fraser||1 episode|
|2001||Law & Order||Lonnie Liston||Episode: “3 Dawg Night”|
|2002||The Inspector Lynley Mysteries||Robert Gabriel||Episode: “Payment in Blood”|
|2003||CSI Miami||Angelo Sedaris||Episode: “The Best Defense”|
|2002â€“2004||The Wire||Russell “Stringer” Bell||37 episodes|
|2005||Girlfriends||Paul||Episode: “All in a Panic”|
|2005||Sometimes in April||Augustin Muganza|
|2008||The No. 1 Ladies’ Detective Agency||Charles Gotso||Episode: “The No. 1 Ladies’ Detective Agency”|
|2009||The Office||Charles Miner||7 episodes|
|2010||The Big C||Lenny||4 episodes|
|2010||Walk Like a Panther||Executive producer|
|2011||Aqua Teen Hunger Force||Police Officer||Voice
|2010â€“2015||Luther||DCI John Luther||Producer
|2011||How Hip Hop Changed the World||Executive producer|
|2011||Demons Never Die||Executive producer|
|2012||Idris Elba’s How Clubbing Changed the World||Presenter|
|2013||Idris Elba: King of Speed||Presenter|
Awards and nominations