10 Best Idris Elba Roles

10 Best Idris Elba Roles

Idris Elba has taken on a wide variety of roles in television and film throughout his career. While the quality of such films and shows have been nothing short of inconsistent, Elba always delivers a committed performance. With his undeniable charm, he is hard to dislike, whether he plays the hero, the villain or someone in-between. With exciting new projects on the horizon — such as the Fast and Furious spin-off film Hobbs and Shaw and Mad Max director George Miller’s latest project — fans of Elba have much to look forward to. Until then, we can revel in his previous work. Here are his ten best films so far.

Marshal Stacker Pentecost, Pacific Rim (2013)

In Guillermo del Toro’s blockbuster action film Pacific Rim, Elba plays Marshal Stacker Pentecost. Pentecost is an officer of the Pan Pacific Defense Force who is called into action when an interdimensional portal releases giant monsters called the Kaiju into the Pacific Ocean. He pilots one of many gigantic robots called Jaegers. Elba fills the role as a prototypical war hero figure who gives rousing speeches to his battalion quite well.

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Russell “Stringer” Bell, The Wire (2002 to 2004)

In the sprawling, acclaimed drama series The Wire, Elba had a celebrated run as Russell “Stringer” Bell, the right-hand man of drug kingpin and childhood friend Avon Barksdale. Bell tries in earnest to bring legitimate business practices to the narcotics-based organization. He is a smart, integral part of the West Baltimore-based crime family and the show at large during his time there.

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Krall, Star Trek Beyond (2016)

In Justin Lin’s exciting disaster movie sequel to J.J. Abram’s Star Trek reboot, Elba plays Krall, the enigmatic antagonist. His motivations and backstory are unclear — but he carries a deep hatred for the United Federation of Planets — of which Captain James T. Kirk (Chris Pine) and his crew are members. Elba brings a great performance as a seething authoritarian to a fun film.

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Charles Miner, The Office (U.S.) (2009)

The Office (U.S.) had a strong central cast of characters, but varying success with its briefly recurring ones. Some recurring characters were reviled by fans, while others became beloved fixtures throughout the sitcom’s run. Elba’s Charles Miner was a character fans loved to hate. He was one of the few characters who seemed immune to office cut-up Jim Halpert (John Krasinski)’s charm. He was a bold and intense interim manager who brought a new energy to the Scranton branch of Dunder-Mifflin Paper Company during Scott’s brief departure to start his own paper company.

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Detective Chief Inspector John Luther, Luther (2010 to Present)

In the continuing British crime drama series Luther, Elba plays the eponymous detective. In typical genre fashion, he is committed to his job — often to the detriment of his personal life. He frequently comes in contact with a cunning serial murderer named Alice Morgan (Ruth Wilson) who he struggles to convict. Elba has continually received acclaim for his portrayal of Detective Chief Inspector John Luther.

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Captain Janek, Prometheus (2012)

Prometheus is a bizarre (and not always in a good way) entry into the Alien franchise — but Elba is one of its saving graces. As the captain of the eponymous space vessel, he is a pragmatic, level-headed character with whom the audience can identify. He, like most of Elba’s roles, is hard to dislike, even if the film is not as strong as some of its predecessors.

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Commandant, Beasts of No Nation (2015)

In Cary Joji Fukunaga’s unblinking drama Beasts of No Nation, a West African child is brought into a rebel militia as his nation descends into civil war. Elba plays the Commandant, the leader of the militia. It is a strong, upsetting performance in a bold and deeply unsettling film.

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Roland Deschain, The Dark Tower (2017)

In the film adaptation of Stephen King’s novel The Dark Tower, Elba plays Roland Deschain. Deschain is the last of the Gunslingers. He lives in a parallel post-apocalyptic world of which he is the sole protector. He seeks to kill the Man in Black (Matthew McConaughey), who killed his father and seeks to destroy their world. While the film received mixed reviews, Elba himself was lauded for his performance.

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Charlie Jaffey, Molly’s Game (2017)

After a career-ending injury, former skier Molly Bloom (Jessica Chastain) gets caught up in the world of high-stakes underground gambling. Elba plays her lawyer, Charlie Jaffey. His performance — as well as Chastain’s — deserves praise in Aaron Sorkin’s solid but otherwise underwhelming drama.

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Nelson Mandela, Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom (2013)

Elba makes a good-faith effort in this Nelson Mandela biopic as the titular political figure. It suffers somewhat from the fact that Elba looks almost nothing like the revolutionary. In spite of that, it is a sturdy film which captures well Mandela’s struggles against apartheid in South Africa.

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Weekend: Oct. 24, 2019, Oct. 27, 2019

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