Idrissa Akuna "Idris" Elba (born 6 September 1972)
is a British television, theatre, and film actor who has starred
in both British and American productions. Elba grew up in Canning
Town, East London. One of his first acting roles was in the soap
opera Family Affairs. He has worked in a variety of TV roles including
Ultraviolet and The Inspector Lynley Mysteries. He is known for
playing Russell "Stringer" Bell, a Baltimore druglord and
aspiring businessman, in HBO's critically acclaimed show The Wire
Elba is a DJ under the moniker DJ Big Driis / Big Driis the Londoner,
and a hip-hop soul recording artist.
In 2009, Elba appeared on a six-episode arc of the American sitcom
The Office, playing Charles Miner, Michael Scott's new boss. In 2010,
he appeared in the action film The Losers in the role of Roque, the
second-in-command of a black-ops team. The same year, he appeared
in the thriller Takers. Elba plays the title role of Detective John
Luther in the BBC television show Luther that aired from 4 May 2010
on BBC One, which has finished its second series.
Elba, an only child, was born Idrissa Akuna Elba, and shortened
his first name at school in Canning Town, where he first became involved
in acting. His father is Sierra Leonean and his mother is Ghanaian.
Elba grew up in East Ham, and began helping an uncle with his
wedding-DJ business in 1986, and within a year he had started his
own DJ company with some friends. 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 then ended
up having to do everything from tire-fitting to cold-call advertising
sales to pay the rent between roles in Crimewatch murder reconstructions.
Elba was working in nightclubs under the DJ nickname Big Driis in
1991, but began auditioning for television parts in his early twenties.
After a stint in the National Youth Music Theatre, Elba worked the
night shift at a Ford factory in Dagenham, London in 1989 and '90.
He started his acting career while in high school with encouragement
from his drama teacher.
 Acting career
Although his film, television, and stage work officially commenced
around 1992, in 1995 he landed his first role on a series called
Bramwell, a medical drama set in 1890s England. Elba's first credited
role arrived in 1995, with a supporting role as a gigolo on the episode
of the farcical series Absolutely Fabulous, entitled "Sex."
Many supporting roles on British television followed, including such
series as The Bill, Degrees of Error, The Ruth Rendell Mysteries,
and The Governor. He then joined the cast of the soap opera Family
Affairs and rose to prominence in the acclaimed serial Ultraviolet.
Elba went on to appear in a more established television series, Dangerfield,
in 1999 as a forensic scientist.
Soon, however, he decided to move to New York City. He returned
to England occasionally for a job, such as a part in one of the Inspector
Lynley Mysteries, a top-rated crime series. In 2001, Elba acted
as Achilles in the stage play Troilus and Cressida in NYC. 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. Elba appeared in the role of Charlie Kgotso in
The No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency opposite Jill Scott and Anika
Noni Rose, that was filmed in Botswana. 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.
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. Elba appeared in a
six episode story arc later in the 2009 season as well as the season
finale. In September 2009, Elba signed a deal to star as the
lead role in the 6-part BBC television show Luther that aired in
May 2010. In October 2009, it was announced that Elba will executive
produce an untitled legal drama for NBC. Elba will portray Laura
Linney's lover in Showtime's The Big C for an unknown number of episodes
In 2006, Elba signed on as the lead of the 2007 dramedy Tyler Perry's
Daddy's Little Girls, playing Monty, a blue-collar mechanic who falls
in love with a six-figure attorney (Gabrielle Union) helping him
gain custody of his kids, and finds the relationship and his custody
hopes threatened by the re-arrival of his ex-wife. He joined
the supporting cast of Juan Carlos Fresnadillo's 28 Weeks Later (2007),
the horror-themed sequel to Danny Boyle's 2002 zombie picture 28
Days Later. He filmed This Christmas with Chris Brown, Mekhi
Phifer, Loretta Devine and Regina King, that brought in nearly $50
million at the box office in 2007.
In 2008, Elba starred in the horror film Prom Night and Guy Ritchie's
RocknRolla. In January 2009, Elba starred in horror film The
Unborn. He starred in Obsessed, alongside Beyonce Knowles and Ali
Larter, as an asset manager who has a beautiful wife (Knowles) and
thriving career until a temp office worker (Larter) begins stalking
him. Obsessed was a box office success after it took in $29 million
in its opening weekend. Obsessed was released on DVD on 4 August
Elba next film was 2010's Legacy in which he portrayed a black
ops soldier, Malcolm, who returned to Brooklyn after a failed mission
in Eastern Europe, where he undertook a journey looking for retribution.
He posted a picture of himself from the set on his Twitter page.
Elba then 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. Filming took place
in Puerto Rico and the movie was released in April 2010. 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). In August 2010, it was announced that Elba
will portray the title role in James Patterson's Alex Cross franchise,
before being replaced by Tyler Perry. Elba will appear in the
2012 sequel Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance alongside Nicolas Cage
as an alcoholic warrior monk tasked with finding Ghost Rider.
On Wednesday, June 22nd, 2011, it was announced that Idris Elba had
joined Guillermo del Toro's next film, Pacific Rim. He will portray
Sensi, one of the film's leads.
 Music career
In 2001, Elba appeared in music videos for Fat Joe, Angie Stone
and English rapper Giggs. In 2006, Elba 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. He DJ'd at
the 2007 NBA All Star parties at the Venetian Hotel and Ice House
Lounge in Las Vegas. Elba appeared in the "Respect My Conglomerate"
music video for Busta Rhymes's 2009 Back on My BS album. In July
2009, Elba was the DJ for BET's new series "Rising Icons".
Elba announced the release of his first single "Please Be True."
Elba is currently working on his second EP, and plans to tour Europe
in late 2009. In the August 2009 issue of Essence magazine, Elba
announced the name of his six-song EP as Kings Among Kings. He
released his EP High Class Problems Vol. 1 in the United Kingdom
in February 2010.
 Personal life
Elba is currently single. From 1997 to 2001, he was married
to Liberian actress Dormowa Sherman, with whom he has a daughter,
Isan (born 2002). Elba spends much of his time in London,
but also owns a home in Atlanta, so he can be close to his daughter.
Elba is represented by ICM. In April 2009, it was announced
that he has become an Anti-Crime Ambassador, and 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.
Elba is a fan of London football team Arsenal, while his father
is a Manchester United fan.
 In the media
He was featured as one of the "Ten Hottest Men on the Planet" in
the April 2004 issue of Essence magazine and again in the November
2005 issue. Idris was chosen as one of People Magazine's annual
100 Most Beautiful People in the World, in May 2007. Elba appeared
on the August 2009 cover of Essence magazine. He appeared on
the August 2010 cover of Ebony magazine.
 Criticism of Tyler Perry
In February 2011, Elba caused controversy when he criticised Tyler
Perry, the actor, writer and director behind the Madea franchise.
Elba, who has previously starred in one of Perry's romantic comedies
(Daddy's Little Girls), lamented the trend for cross-dressing caricatures
of black characters – a phenomenon many would recognise from
films such as the The Klumps and Big Momma's House series – describing
it as "buffoonish". Elba maintains the view that change
should occur in Hollywood to address the recent under-representation
of black actors in Hollywood and the controversy it has caused.
Elba said: "Imagine a film such as Inception with an entire
cast of black people – do you think it would be successful?" Elba
asks. "Would people watch it? But no one questions the fact
that everyone's white. That's what we have to change."
Year Film Role Notes and Awards
1999 Belle maman Grégoire
2000 Sorted Jam
2001 Buffalo Soldiers Kimborough
2003 One Love Aaron
2005 The Gospel Charles Frank Nominated – Black Reel Award,
Best Actor- Film
2007 Tyler Perry's Daddy's Little Girls Monty James Nominated – BET
Award for Actors of the Year
The Reaping Ben
28 Weeks Later General Stone
American Gangster Tango Nominated – Screen Actors Guild Award
for Outstanding Performance by a Cast in a Motion Picture
This Christmas Quentin Whitfield
2008 Prom Night Detective Winn
The Human Contract Larry
2009 The Unborn Arthur Wyndham
Obsessed Derek Charles Nominated - Image Award, Outstanding Actor
in a Motion Picture
2010 Takers Gordon Cozier Nominated- Black Reel Award, Best Ensemble
Legacy Malcolm Gray
The Losers Roque
2011 Thor Heimdall
2012 Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance Moreau Filming
Prometheus Captain Janek Filming
2013 Pacific Rim Sensi Pre-production
Year Television Show Role Notes and Awards
1995 Absolutely Fabulous Gigolo 1 Episode
1996 Crocodile Shoes II Jo-Jo 1 Episode
1997 Family Affairs Tim Webster 3 Episodes
1998 Ultraviolet Vaughan Rice 6 Episodes
1999 Dangerfield Matt Gregory 12 Episodes
2000 In Defence PC Paul Fraser 1 Episode
2002 The Inspector Lynley Mysteries Robert Gabriel 1 Episode
2002–2004 The Wire Russell 'Stringer' Bell 37 Episodes
2005 Girlfriends Paul Episode 106 'All in a Panic'
Sometimes in April Augustin Muganza Nominated – Black Reel
Award, Best Actor Network/Cable
Nominated – Image Award, Outstanding Actor in a TV Movie/Mini-Series
2008 The No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency Charles Gotso 1 Episode
2009 The Office Charles Miner TV Series: 7 Episodes
2010 The Big C Lenny 4 Episodes
Nominated - Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Guest Actor in a
Comedy Series (2011)
2011 Aqua Unit Patrol Squad 1 Police Officer 1 episode
2010–present Luther DCI John Luther 10 Episodes
Also Associate Producer
Nominated- Golden Globe, Best Actor in a Mini-Series or Television
Nominated- Golden Satellite Award, Best Actor in a Mini-Series or
Nominated - Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Lead Actor in a
Miniseries or a Movie
2006: Big Man
2009: Kings Among Kings
2010: High Class Problems Vol. 1
 Awards and nominations
2007: Nominated - Best Actor
2008: Nominated - Best Actor
2009: Nominated - Best Actor
2010: Won - Best Actor
2011: Won - Best Actor
Black Reel Awards
2006: Nominated - Best Actor for The Gospel
2006: Nominated - Best Actor Network/Cable for Sometimes in April
Golden Globe Awards
2010: Nominated - Best Actor – Miniseries or Television Film
NAACP Image Awards
2006: Nominated - Image Award for Outstanding Actor in a Television
Movie, Mini-Series, or Dramatic Special for Sometimes in April
2010: Nominated - Outstanding Actor in a Motion Picture for Obsessed
2011: Won - Outstanding Actor in a Television Movie, Mini-Series, or Dramatic
Special for Luther
2011: Nominated - Image Award Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Motion Picture
Screen Actors Guild Awards
2008: Nominated - Outstanding Cast in a Motion Picture for American
63rd Annual Primetime Emmy Awards
2011: Nominated - Outstanding Leading Actor in an Mini-Series or
Movie for Luther
2011: Nominated - Outstanding Guest Actor In A Comedy The Big C