Idris Elba is opening up.
The “Harder They Fall” star is on the new October/November cover of Esquire, and in the issue he opens up about everything from his experience of the pandemic to the persistent James Bond rumours.
During the pandemic, Elba tested positive for COVID-19, which he says led to some surprising backlash.
“The good favour that some people in the public eye get, which I definitely benefit from, was gone in an instant. In an instant,” he says. “People that loved me one moment absolutely f**king hated me the next. It was like, ‘You’re fake; you’re being paid.’ No one really believed. It was really a tough time. So where I am now, you’re looking at a man that’s very thankful. You’re looking at a man that’s very reflective of what’s happened over the last 18 months. You’re looking at a man that doesn’t really have time to waste on pretending to be anything but what I am. Who I am and what I am.”
He adds, “It looks amazing from the outside, but there’s a lot of stuff that happens in the public eye that’s not fun. I’m not allowed to just go out and get drunk and have a rant and get kicked out of a pub and then feel bad the next day. Part of your duty is to be an example.”
Elba also talks about the loss he felt when his father Winston passed away from lung cancer in 2013.
“The biggest loss I ever had was watching my dad die,” he recalls. “I remember a profound feeling I had after that, which was like, ‘Wow, oh, there is nothing after the day you die.’ Looking at my dad, I don’t know where he’s gone, but the man that was lying there is gone. Not there. It was so final.”
Addressing the racist comments he’s been subjected to about his casting in certain roles, Elba says, “…I’ve had it in many different shapes and forms. When I got the role as Heimdall in the Marvel Universe, there was a real outcry from a sect of the fans.
“From one perspective, hey, there’s a logic: He’s Norse; he shouldn’t be played by a Black man. But from another sect, there was like ‘Idris Elba’s a c**t, he’s disgusting, he’s not f**king James Bond, he’s never going to be James Bond.’ It was hatred. If you get to a level like mine, I can’t sit here and worry about some d**khead who’s got a pseudonym writing, ‘Idris is Black, he shouldn’t play. . .’ I don’t care; I shouldn’t care about that. Plus, I’ve got a thick skin, man. I’m old and ugly enough to know that they love you, then they hate you, then they love you again.”
Meanwhile, amid years of rumours that he might be up for the iconic role of James Bond, Elba says that his character from “Luther” fills that space for him well.
“I say this in jest, but this is my answer to Bond,” he explains. “[Luther] is my big character that lives in the same space as the Bournes, as the Bonds in the world. Not in terms of spy works or spying, but this is a character that fights evil and then will stop at nothing to do it. And we created him from scratch. Me and [showrunner] Neil Cross really plowed our hearts into making John Luther. And I’ve never been more thankful for a character that keeps going. I love him. And it’s a hard character to play. It’s very absorbing, but I’ve liked bringing him to life every time. I’ve loved it.”
As for whether “Luther” will make the transition from TV to movies, Elba says, “There’s definitely a version where I see myself doing a few pictures of Luther. Like I said, if you can make Bonds, and just retell these incredible scenarios he finds himself in, you can do exactly the same with John. I can see him growing older. There’s no shortfall of evil people who have got just bad intentions in the world. So I don’t see why John should stop doing what he does.”