We shouldn’t even label our feelings for Idris Elba with such a pedestrian term as “man crush.” We should just call it what it really is – a full blown, obsessive, and passionate love that will not end even when this month does. That is how complete and total of a package Idris Elba is.
I mean, how can you not look at the guy and just go “G**damn. Stop being so awesome all of the time!” Every moment Elba is on screen he just friggin’ owns it. Even in both Thor movies where basically his character just stands around staring into space he is still the best thing in the flick. He’s never not good. Never.
Though he has been acting since the mid 90s, Elba made a name for himself for his performance as Stringer Bell in “The Wire.” A drug dealer who takes economic classes and is an avid reader but will have you killed if you ruin his business, the character of Bell is utterly fascinating. He is ruthless not because he is psycho. He is ruthless because nothing will interfere with his business. He doesn’t want to turn legit for moral or ethical reasons. He wants legitimacy because he wants more money and more power. There are a multitude of reasons why everyone wets their pants over this show; Elba’s portrayal of Bell is one of them.
In the BBC series “Luther” Elba plays the title character, a London detective who investigates the city’s worst and most violent crimes. Like almost every detective show ever put on TV, he is great at his job and sometimes has to “go rogue” for the good of solving a case. Unlike almost every detective show ever put on TV, he is so stressed out about it that you can just feel that he might lose his mind at any minute. You can almost feel the tension headache that Luther has. Elba’s portrayal of Luther makes it look like he is in constant need of a good nap.
And for those of you who are thinking, “Well, yeah he’s good in both of those shows because in both shows he is basically playing a cool and/or tough guy, which is really not that hard to play.” You may be right (you’re not), but to that opinion I submit Exhibit A….
Idris Elba’s guest stint on season five of “The Office” was easily one of the highlights of the entire run of that show. (Tied with James Spader as “Robert California”, of course.) Elba plays Charles Miner, the new boss of Dunder Mifflin who is just trying to get the Scranton office up and running after Michael departs. What makes his performance so memorable is that he plays the role just as it is written – a new boss running an office. That’s it. He is playing it so straight that it is actually hysterical. In fact, if you had never seen nor heard of Idris Elba, you might have watched his episodes on “The Office” and think they just hired some no name, struggling American actor for the part – albeit a really good looking one. Yeah, I said it!
Idris Elba’s approach to acting can best be described in one simple word: layers. The man adds layers upon layers to his characters. Things are going on even when nothing seems to be going on – just watch him as Mandela. And as an audience member you keep on wanting to delve deeper and discover those layers. His character work is like the ultimate seven layer dip that you can’t stop eating until the entire bowl has been demolished.
Looking at his IMDB page, Elba’s list of creative endeavors is incredibly eclectic, and by that I mean just plain weird. This is a guy who has performed Shakespeare; done a tearjerker Tyler Perry movie, worked on a Nicholas Cage actioner, voiced a character on a video game, and directed (and starred in) a Mumford & Sons video. All this from a working class Englishman. What the what? Who has that kind of bizarre career trajectory and can still be considered legit? Idris Alba does. You know why? Because he can.