He captivated us as Stringer Bell in The Wire and has us suddenly rooting for Michael as no-nonsense boss Charles Miner in The Office. Now Idris Elba is hitting the big screen in the modern-day Fatal Attraction flick Obsessed. The British actor tells us why he loves the film, why he was nervous to work with Steve Carell and what it's like to be married to Beyonce.
Q: You're in a spot that many men across the world would love to be in, playing a man married to Beyoncé. What was it like to work with her?
A: She's a true professional—a very smart, talented, giving actress. It was a very good experience, and we had a phenomenal time. We got thrown into working on the film very quickly, and we didn't know each other at all. Honestly, within 20 minutes of meeting each other we were playing man and wife, and that's a challenge for any actor. ... We also had some good chemistry, which definitely helped toward making sure we looked married for real.
Q: Have you had much experience doing thrillers like Obsessed?
A: I've done thrillers, but they're typically of the supernatural nature. This is a human story—an ordinary man with an extraordinary story. I have to say, it's quite a challenge, keeping up that sort of angst for that amount of time. Throughout the film, my character goes through a fair amount of drama, and it takes seven, eight weeks to film. So that's a long time to keep a frown on your face.
Q: What made you want to sign on for this film?
A: It's tough to ask my die-hard Stringer Bell fans to watch me play a man who loses his grip on life to something as crazy as this scenario. However, I've got loyal fans—I'm lucky to have that—and I feel like I'm going to bring them with me. This is a really interesting film. It hasn't been said yet, and it probably won't be said because it's not a part of the film, but there's an obvious moment of "Oh! That's interesting!" by way of race, in that there's an African-American couple in the leading position in a thriller. It's not mentioned in the film, it's never an issue, and I think that's phenomenal. Ali [Larter] is the antagonist and falls in love with her boss, who is an exemplary boss, who happens to be black. To me, that was very refreshing that the studio execs didn't want to make an issue of it.
Q: We're all loving you right now on The Office. It seems like it couldn't be more different from your other current projects. What was that like?
A: Yeah, you couldn't ask for more variety. The Office is a very different kettle of fish. To be honest with you, my character isn't a very funny character. He isn't designed to be funny. Though I have to say I was very nervous to go into work with Steve and those guys—they're very funny. They've been doing it a long time, and I felt like, 'Oh man, I'm the new guy.' They gave me a decent amount of episodes in which to build this character, so I was very nervous. But you know, it was fun doing it. The guys are really really generous, though they hazed me for about a week.
Q: The Wire is another show you've done that has an incredibly loyal and almost fanatical fan base. Why do you think viewers take to it so strongly?
A: I think The Wire really is relatable. It reflects an ongoing issue across America, about inaccuracies in major cities between rich and the poor and some of the things that go on behind the red tape of council and government bodies. That is an issue in most cities around the world. You're going to find corruptness, you're going to find a culture that is misled and doesn't know how to get itself out of the spiral and you're going to find mayors and councilmen who are in it for personal gain and in-house politics. I feel like The Wire spoke up something that most people will at some point have to deal with in life. In England, The Wire is making its debut now, and those guys are like "Wow!" It's a huge deal.
Idris Elba on the quickest way to his heart
Printed from Oprah.com on Sunday, March 16, 2014
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