Born in London, Idris Elba is working to make a name in the American film industry. Elba co-stars in “The Reaping,” an action-packed thriller revolving around occurrences believed to be linked to the 10 Biblical Plagues. In “The Reaping,” he plays Ben, a man who spends his life looking for scientific proof that God exists.
A music aficionado, the actor wants to launch a career under his DJ name, “Big Driis the Londoner.” Elbis is best known for his role as Russell ‘Stringer’ Bell on the television series “The Wire” and for films “The Gospel” and “Tyler Perry’s Daddy’s Little Girls.”
TTN: This year has been a big year for you. What kind of affect do you think this will give you in the future for your acting career?
IE: The personal affect on me is that my personal life now becomes smaller. I experienced that when I was on “The Wire,” and that was honestly the weirdest experience of my life. So business-wise I think it’s a good thing, it opens up more opportunities for me to do different films, different characters, and show what I’ve got to offer. I’m excited about the prospects for a film career.
TTN: How do you find time to develop your music career?
IE: It’s really careful scheduling. Music is often times done in confined space and time, so I want to lock out three weeks of studio time and do what I’ve got to do there, and then come back and do what I need here. But it takes planning and a good team of people around me to get it right.
TTN: What music are you listening to right now?
IE: Amy Winehouse, an English artist with an old school jazz voice.
TTN: How is it acting in a film that lacks the realism that “The Wire” had?
IE: The challenge is trying to keep the realism in whatever I’m doing. Supernatural elements— you’re asking the audience to suspend their belief. So it was a challenge for me to keep the realism that I bring to films to a film like “The Reaping.” Trying to bring that realism is a challenge and I really enjoy that.
TTN: Talk a little about the experience of filming in and around Baton Rouge, LA during the hurricane.
IE: Well it was very interesting, and a deep experience for all of us. The movie was on hiatus for four weeks or so while the rescue operation was in place, and then we came back to Baton Rouge and finished our film. I just remember coming back to Baton Rouge and it changed the way the whole crew and the actors approached the work. We were on a film about the acts of God and here we were in the middle of one. It challenges the way you view the work, in a good way. It affects you.
TTN: Do you think this will be a challenging film for audiences to accept?
IE: I think audiences were going with skepticism, because this is something we all know and it is in the Bible. I think audiences will be challenged because I guess we want to be entertained by the movies but here we are being entertained by something from the scripture. Skeptics and believers will be in the audience.
TTN: Do you find that the way American and British actors work is different?
IE: English actors tend to be really in tune with what their characters are doing and how it relates. Americans have a real great technical hold on what their characters are doing. I’ve learned how to read a script differently in America.
TTN: You have a kind of reputation in pop entertainment for playing religious characters. Do you come from a religious background?
IE: It happens to be coincidental that the characters are sort of faith based. Personally I am more spiritual than religion, so it wasn’t my religion that drove me to these characters. In “The Gospel” I was a minister, in “[Terry Perry’s] Daddy’s Little Girls” I play a man who goes to church, and this character, this is a scientist who is a very religious Christian and wants to prove that God exists by his science. Though there are similarities, I am eager to say that I’m not sort of playing those roles by choice, and I’m not particularly religious.
Jess Cohen can be reached at email@example.com.