Idris Elba has done plenty over the course of his still-surging acting career, and perhaps getting the role of the iconic James Bond would certainly be close to the top of his greatest roles. Instead of focusing on what-ifs, the dashing 45-year-old actor is taking on the reality of being middle-aged with a youthful tenacity as he appears to show no signs of slowing down.
Elba sat down with The Guardian for a lengthy interview despite being tired from the constant running around he’s done over the past year alone. The son of African immigrants nearly chased a normal life of working at the Ford factory but has decidedly flipped the script as only Elba can.
He’s set to release his directorial debut, Yardie, this month which focuses on Jamaican gangsters in his native London based on a novel from Victor Headly.
From The Guardian:
When the idea of directing Yardie came up, Elba didn’t think twice. “I was like, ‘Yes!’” he recalls. “Yardie, yes. I was immediately in.”
The story was already a very familiar one to Elba. The novel was written by Victor Headley, a Jamaican-born British author, and published in 1992. It followed the wild misadventures of D, a young Jamaican who lands in London and goes on a hyper-violent, revenge-fuelled tear through the city’s underworld. The cover showed a black face, cropped just below the eyes, a gun pointed straight at the reader; everything about Yardie seemed designed to make the maximum impact. And it did. Despite not being stocked in most bookshops, it was hawked outside nightclubs and in clothing stores and sold more than 30,000 copies.
Elba, who had just turned 20 when Yardie came out, isn’t sure where he picked up his copy, but he remembers the book being passed around his friends. Much of the action takes place in Hackney in the 1980s, which is where Elba spent his formative years, before moving to Canning Town. D joins a sound system – a crew typically consisting of a DJ, an MC and a selector who picked the reggae tracks – and that was how Elba spent all his spare time, too. “For me, my entry point was going to the sound systems, being a young DJ myself, pretending to be Jamaican when I get on the mic,” recalls Elba. “Africans didn’t really admit to being African – or I didn’t – because you would just get people taking the piss out of you.”
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