Idris Elba is the cover star of the new October/November issue of Esquire. The coolest man on the planet won’t be shaken from his master plan. But after a bruising 18 months, the multitalented Englishman, who acts, deejays, and podcasts, and this month stars in the all-Black Western, “The Harder They Fall,” wants to clear up a few things.
On the backlash he faced when announcing he tested positive for Covid-19:“The good favor that some people in the public eye get–which I definitely benefit from–was gone in an instant. In an instant. People that loved me one moment absolutely f*cking 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 eighteen 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.”
On the loss he felt when his father passed away: “The biggest loss I ever had was watching my dad die. 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.”
On the downside of fame: “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.”
On the racist comments made about his acting roles: “…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*nt, he’s disgusting, he’s not f*cking 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*ckhead 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.”
On his favorite performances: “Mandela would be in there. Beasts of No Nation, Sometimes in April. Stringer Bell. John Luther. Robert DuBois in The Suicide Squad. They weren’t all necessarily overly successful as films, but for me personally, there are some very big moments, career-wise, that really I just cannot forget.”
On his character Luther being his James Bond: “I say this in jest, but this is my answer to Bond. [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.”
The October/November issue of Esquire will be available everywhere October 19th.
[Photo Credt: Adama Jalloh/Esquire Magazine]