Idris Elba is reflecting on growing up in a socioeconomic background where doing well meant just staying out of jail.
While sitting down in New York City for a One-on-One with ET Canada’s Carlos Bustamante, the multi-faceted Golden Globe winner discussed his legacy, sharing how he wants to forge a path for regular people to push their limits and follow their dreams.
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“I don’t think I ever grew up with a compulsion to be recognized by everyone, [but] I think that was what happened,” admits Elba. “But I do know that the people who influenced me left an impact on the world. Great thinkers, great people, politicians.”
Elba cites Nelson Mandela, whom he portrayed in 2013’s “Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom”, as someone who truly “left a legacy on the world”.
“I think ultimately, we could all be in the dark until one of us does something to turn the light bulb on and that one person then leads the way for the next,” notes the actor.
Growing up in working class East London, Elba didn’t have very many role models to look up to, particularly in the acting industry.
“I come from a place where I was told that you’re not likely to be anything,” he recalls. “You know, you come from a socioeconomic background where there isn’t really anyone who has amounted to anything special. Where you come from, there aren’t that many famous people.”
Elba says doing well in life where he came from meant just “staying out of jail.” However, the 50-year-old “Luther: The Fallen Sun” star wanted to do “a bit more than that.”
Elba’s long list of accomplishments includes receiving an OBE from Queen Elizabeth II, being named one of the 100 Most Influential People in the World by Time Magazine and earning the title of People’s “Sexiest Man Alive.”
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“If what I leave behind is a legacy where someone from where I’m from is like, ‘Well, Idris did that, so maybe I can,’ that’s great, but there’s no real compulsion here to kind of change the world,” he adds.
“I think people limit themselves, and I don’t want to be annoying, but I don’t limit myself.”
Tune in to ET Canada’s One-on-One with Idris Elba on Friday, March 10 at 7:00 p.m. ET/PT on Global.