Idris Elba was born Idrissa Akuna Elba in Hackney, London on the 6th of September 1972. The son of Winston and Eve Elba, originally from Sierra Leone and Ghana respectively. He grew up in and around Hackney and West Ham, and was first exposed to acting at school in Canning Town. This began a lifelong career for Elba that saw him leave secondary school to enroll in the National Youth Music Theatre in 1988.
Elba began auditioning for TV roles in his early 20s and got his first break in 1994 when he appeared in the CBBC drama The Boot Street Band. From there, more leads followed with a role in 1995 in Bramwell, a period medical drama.
Further supporting appearances in Absolutely Fabulous, The Bill, The Ruth Rendell Mysteries, Family Affairs, Ultraviolet and Dangerfield all helped the young actor build his presence and portfolio.
Beyond this, minor roles both in the UK and stateside eventually resulted in his break-out billing in the 2002 HBO drama The Wire, where he played Russell ‘Stringer’ Bell. Then, in 2009 he was approached by the BBC to star in Luther, the role for which he is now best known in the UK.
Elba’s first film appearances were 2007’s Daddy’s Little Girls, 28 Weeks Later and This Christmas. His first major early role was in Guy Ritchies’ 2008 gangster movie RocknRolla. Other noteworthy billings include appearing in the MCU as Heimdall, the role he’s best known for, and one he is rumored to reprise. Elba has also achieved critical acclaim for his star turns in The Dark Tower, Beasts of No Nation, Star Trek Beyond and Prometheus.
Chosen By AI to Be Bond
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The titular spy has been played by a veritable rogues gallery of movie stars, with Sean Connery, the first Eon actor to be cast in the role serving as the template for all who followed. He bowed out of officially playing the character in 1971’s Diamonds are Forever, in which is remembered for his white tuxedo and adventures at the tables of Las Vegas.
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When appraising Elba’s fitness for the role, one need only look to his swaggering portrayal of Luther in the hit BBC police procedural of the same name to know he has everything required to pull off the world-weary charm of 007.
It’s not just the bookies that think so either – in 2020, Largo.ai, an artificial intelligence program, selected from among the modern industry’s eligible actors its own algorithmic recommendations for the role – a shortlist on which Elba appeared alongside Man of Steel star Henry Cavill.
While wishful thinking and AI smarts may point to Elba as being perfect for the job, the long term time commitments of the role (at least 10 years) are thought to put Elba, already 50, out of the running.
Moonlights as a DJ
When Elba isn’t on stage or behind the cameras, there’s nowhere else he would prefer to be than behind a set of decks DJing under his moniker DJ Big Driis. In fact, over the past few years Elba has declared a wish to move away from acting in order to focus on electronic music.
Not only does he DJ, but he has increasingly been producing tracks, which he has begun to put out on his own 7Wallace imprint in recent years. In addition to electronic music, Elba has occasionally lent his vocal talents as an RnB singer, appearing on numerous collaborations and releases in this capacity.
As of late 2022, Idris Elba’s total net worth is now thought to be around $40 million.