Idris Elba stopped by Reddit to help promote the success of No Good Deed by answering some questions from the users.
This AMA (Ask Me Anything) covered a wide range of topics from his favorite type of roles, how he managed to pull off an authentic performance as Stringer Bell in The Wire, and one really great Nic Cage story from the set of Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance.
You seem to switch from playing good guys to playing bad guys with relative ease. Do you prefer playing the hero, or the villain?
I find villains way more compellin’ to unearth their psyche. Writers love writing for villains because they can get a lot more off their chest, and it just means a lot more stuff for the actor to do. But good guys are also a challenge, because if you don’t get the balance between being real and being, you know, a stereotypically good guy, your character can come across as corny. So each has its challenges, but I think being a bad guy has more.
Idris, I am a HUGE fan of your work as Stringer Bell in The Wire. How long did it take you to perfect your “American” accent? My world was turned upside down when I found out that you were an Englishman and that is not your natural accent.
The truth is I had been living in America by 3-4 years by the time I got The Wire, so my ear is pretty good at picking up accents and I’m a bit of a mimic, so it was a combination of living in the country and picking up an East Coast accent for Stringer. So the short answer is: it took me 4 years, but in honesty I cheated because I was living in America.
How would you prefer fans to approach you when they see you in public?
Ehmm- I really like it when fans just say “Hey man, I’m just – nice to meet you, you know. this is who I am” a lot of fans don’t say hello, or just forget the ordinary common niceties. They just go straight to “can I take a picture” and sometimes that’s, it’s nice to be spoken to, not spoken at.
Are there any more plans for more episodes of Luther? I am dying for some more.
We are in talks at the moment to figure out a way to bring more Luther back to the TV, but the focus is to try and make a film from it.
I read a recent interview with Dominic West where he stated that David Simon was considering making a prequel for The Wire. The premise would be showing Avon and Stringer’s rise to power, taking over the towers from a gangster played by Samuel L Jackson.
On behalf of all fans of The Wire, can you please lobby David Simon to ensure this happens?
Ahahaha. Well, that’s absolute news to me, I haven’t heard of it before. It sounds quite incredible. And…yeah, yeah I will ask him.
Are we cancelling the Apocalypse today?
Uh…haven’t you heard? I cancelled it once. When I cancel it, it stays cancelled.
If possible to choose, what is your favourite scene from ‘The Wire’ that you were involved in?
My favourite scene is when I tell Avon that I killed D’Angelo. That was the scene yeah. It was a very Shakespearean Scene. And Avon and Stringer end up on the floor. It’s actually the scene that sealed Stringer Bell’s fate, although he didn’t know it. I remember Wood and I, we sat in a trailer – and discussed what we were going to do pretty much all day. And ended up going in on set. It was incredible.
Hey Mr Elba!
Big fan! Love Luther and Prometheus! And i’m a secret fan of Ghost Rider… As you may know, the internets has a love affair with Nic Cage….
Do you have any funny stories from the set of Ghost Rider?
Yeah – Nic Cage came back one day on set, and he came down to set and he looked a little bit tired, a little bit – kind of like he’d ben up all night. So I was like “hey Nic man, how you doing man” and he said “i’m alright’ and I said “You seem a little spoked out” and he said “Yeah man, I went up to Dracula’s castle…the ruins up in the mountains, and I stayed the night” and i said “What?! Why|?” and he said “I just had to channel the energy, and it was pretty spooky up there.” We were shooting in Romania, Transylvania, and he just went up there to spend the night, as you do.
And then he walked away.
What is the best/funniest practical joke you have seen happen on the set?
Uhmm…. bumdudmdumdumdumdumbumpa. Funniest practical joke on a set? Let me think about this… I think I was doin’, a long time ago, I was doing Ultraviolet, and there’s a scene in a morgue, and I remember there was a few extras playing the dead people but somehow we weren’t told that, we thought they were dummies, and I think one of them sprung up on us, and I shit my pants, not gonna lie, because I thought it was a dummy ! But it was a real life person.
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Are you currently having a 40-degree day?
Actually, I think it’s sort of like … yeah, I’m having a 40 degree, yes. In short, yes, I’m having a 40 degree week-end.
What is Cary Fukunaga’s directing style? How does he work with actors?
Well, it’s a hard question because in our film, the film we did together, there were varying levels of experience, some actors had never been in a film before, and there were some actors that hadn’t, were a bit more experienced, so with the actors that hadn’t been, you know, done it before, he was very hands on, asking them for the truth. He speaks a lot about logic. Just because you’re on camera, he doesn’t want you to make up an expression or fake an emotion, he wants you to think bout it would actually be like to be in that position. With more experienced actors, me especially, he just allowed me to be me and go for it. He wants as much variation, so that when he goes into the edit room, he can do with it what he wants. He expects you as an actor to know what you want to do, and to know your words, know your world, I found him a dream to work with because I hardly noticed he was there, to be honest, and it just allowed me to really take over my character. He was an amazin’ director. He works really hard, he knows everything about filmmaking, and he expects his crew to do that too.
Who gave you permission to be so attractive? Also, what’s your favorite color?
My mum and dad. You have to ask my mum and dad about the first question, because I took their genes and became me. But thanks for the compliment. My favourite colour is green.
Hi, big fan. I am currently watching Luther on netflix. Congratulations on your #1 movie!
Two questions: How many marriage proposals do you get per week? Your twitter replies are crazy sometimes haha.
Also, how did it feel to have so many people talking about the “Microphone” in your pants a couple weeks ago. Is that Flattering, Creepy or both?
Hahahha! I get, actually – asked to be married probably about 3, 4 times a week. Yeah, I get a lot of love on twitter, there’s a lot of love.
A combination of all of it, if I’m honest. A combination of all of that.
If it were offered to you, would you be the next James Bond?
Yes, if it was offered to me, absolutely.