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British actor Idris Elba came into renown stateside for playing business minded drug dealer Stringer Bell on The Wire. However, it turns out Elba has only seen episodes of the HBO series here and there, and has never seen a full season of the show.  

Elba made the revelation during an interview with Playboy magazine. Consider this a time when you can legitimately say you’er reading it “for the articles.”

PLAYBOY: Do you think the hard knocks you took in those four years gave you a better understanding of Stringer Bell and The Wire?

ELBA: Yes. People I’d been raised with in London made money as a hustle, whether it was drugs or being a pool shark. Flash drug dealers went to jail, cool drug dealers didn’t. I had that embedded in my system since I was a kid. My dad was a pool shark. We’d go to pubs and he’d pretend he didn’t know how to play, put down a bet and win. The point is, Stringer was in my system. And when I got to America, I understood what was happening in the hood. I lived in Jersey City, which is a rough neighborhood, and in Flatbush for a while. That was my preparation for the role. [pauses] By the way, you know I’ve never watched The Wire.

PLAYBOY: It’s a good show. You should watch it sometime.

ELBA: I’ve seen a full episode at screenings but never at home. I’ve never watched an entire season. I’ve not seen any episode of season two, most of season three and none of seasons four and five. I’m supercritical of my own work. As an actor, if you’re being told how wonderful you are, what do you need to strive for? I don’t know if I’m good just because some critic says I am in the press.

We agree, it is a great show and Elba should get familiar. Peep a couple of our favorite scenes that feature Stringer below. What’s your favorite Stringer Bell moment?

Photo: HBO