Before you catch him as Shere Khan in The Jungle Book, take a look back at the best Idris Elba movies and tv shows
Elba kicked off 2016 by winning an Independent Spirit Award for his supporting role in Netflix‘s Beasts of No Nation. He is also a voice in this Disney’s recent big screen hit Zootopia, which now holds the studio’s highest-grossing opening for an animated film.
Next, we’ll hear Elba as Shere Khan in Disney‘s live-action adaptation of The Jungle Book. In between invading movies, Elba will also be invading dance floors on Macklemore‘s club track “Dance Off” from the rapper’s sophomore album “This Unruly Mess I’ve Made,” which features Elba smooth talk in the hook.
ComingSoon.net is looking back on the English actor’s career and dynamic films that have made him one of the top fan choices to be the next James Bond.
Idris Elba Movies and Television Spotlight: The Wire (2002-2004)
HBO‘s gritty television show The Wire about Baltimore street politics was Idris Elba’s first major breakout role in the US. As drug lord and business man Russell “Stringer” Bell, Elba was a part of the drama’s ensemble of criminals and cops. The show would go on to become considered one of the greatest shows on television for tackling the realities of how an urban city deals with narcotics and it’s trickle down of effects on government, bureaucracy, the news and schools.
Idris Elba Movies and Television Spotlight: Daddy’s Little Girls (2007)
In 2007, Elba signed on as the lead in the Tyler Perry film Daddy’s Little Girls. He starred as Monty, a blue-collar mechanic, opposite Gabrielle Union, who played the attorney helping him gain custody of his kids from a neglectful ex. The family drama was Elba’s first major feature role in the US.
Idris Elba Movies and Television Spotlight: RocknRolla (2008)
Guy Ritchie‘s rollicking romp through the criminal underbelly of London was an ensemble piece composed of some of the UK’s bad boy actors. The film starred Gerard Butler as One Two, a gang leader looking to make a quick buck with his crew ‘the Wild Bunch.’ His band of underworld heroes included Idris Elba as Mumbles and Tom Hardy as Handsome Bob. Both were memorable standouts of the film.
Idris Elba Movies and Television Spotlight: Obsessed (2009)
In Obsessed, we got to see Idris Elba in another lead role, this time as a successful business man who has it all: a new job promotion, Beyonce as his beautiful wife and a baby. However, when a temp worker (Ali Larter) starts stalking him and attempts to frame him for infidelity, his perfect life hangs in the balance. Luckily, his wife shows who runs his world in this suburban thriller.
Idris Elba Movies and Television Spotlight: The Office (2009)
Back on the TV front, Elba landed a stint on NBC‘s The Office during their 2009 season. He was featured as Charles Miner, a rival to Dunder Mifflin’s regional manager Michael Scott (Steve Carell). He appeared in a six-episode story arc as well as the season finale.
Idris Elba Movies and Television Spotlight: The Losers (2010)
The adaptation of Vertigo/DC‘s comic The Losers is an interesting case of an entire ensemble that would go on to be a part of other successful comic book franchises. No really, it’s quite the marvel family now. This is a year before Idris Elba was cast as Heimdal in Thor, right before Chris Evans would go on to star in Captain America: The First Avenger, and then Zoe Saldana would later become known as Gamora in Guardians of the Galaxy. The film’s lead, Jeffrey Dean Morgan, would go on to stay in the DC camp as The Comedian in Zack Snyder’s Watchmen and will appear as Negan on The Walking Dead and he can be seen briefly as Thomas Wayne in Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice. We’ll think of The Losers as a funny alt timeline where they all tap into their superhero powers for a gritty comic book version of the A-Team that wasn’t entirely memorable.
Idris Elba Movies and Television Spotlight: Luther (2010-2015)
In the BBC One series, Elba stars as Detective Chief Inspector John Luther. The successful series follows the dedicated detective taking on violent crimes alongside his nemesis Alice Morgan, a murderer, who gives him insight into the criminal minds they take down. The huge following for the show has encouraged the creative team behind it to ultimately have it culminate in a feature film, which is still a definite possibility for Elba. This show has been lauded as proof that Elba has the chops to be James Bond and made him a fan favorite to take over the role despite the ridiculous assumption that he’s “too street.”
Idris Elba Movies and Television Spotlight: Thor (2011)
Kenneth Branaugh’s film adaptation of Thor may star Chris Hemsworth as the Mjolnir-wielding God, but it’s also given us a few new icons in the marvel universe. Sure, Tom Hiddleston as Loki is a given, but the film also showcased Jaimie Alexander as Sif the warrior and Idris Elba as Heimdall, the all-seeing guardian of Asgard. Elba would go on to reprise his role for Thor: The Dark World and Avengers: Age of Ultron.
Idris Elba Movies and Television Spotlight: Prometheus (2012)
Ridley Scott’s return to the universe of his Alien franchise was met with more bemoaning than praise even though he had a really solid cast. The film starred Noomi Rapace, Charlize Theron, Michael Fassbender and Idris Elba as the crew in the origin story Prometheus that took place way before the first Alien film to really be considered a prequel. Even though the film doesn’t have the support of most of the Alien fanbase, Scott’s sequel, Alien: Covenant, is still in the works, which hopes to bring the story back to it’s horror roots.
Idris Elba Movies and Television Spotlight: Nelson Mandela: Long Walk To Freedom (2013)
Idris Elba starred as South African anti-apartheid revolutionary, politician, and philanthropist Nelson Mandela in a chronicle of the peace activist’s life. Imprisoned for 27 years, Mandela’s story is one of perseverance and non-violent action against colonial politics. He would go on to be South Africa’s first president of color and one of this generation’s inspirational leaders. Elba was nominated for a Golden Globe in the Best Actor-Motion Picture Drama category for his performance.
Idris Elba Movies and Television Spotlight: Pacific Rim (2013)
In Guillermo Del Toro‘s underrated mech vs. monsters film, we got to see Elba cancel the apocalypse as General Stacker Pentecost. Alongside leads Charlie Hunnam and Rinko Kikuchi, he and his armies of Jaegers took on the Kaiju to save the world in this sci-fi and action-adventure film. Despite being met with moderate success, the film has developed an cult following and its sequel has recently been greenlit. This time, however, it will be helmed by Daredevil’s Steven S. DeKnight and not Del Toro.
Idris Elba Movies and Television Spotlight: Beasts of No Nation (2015)
In the Netflix original movie from Cary Joji Fukunaga, Elba took a dark turn as the commandant of a militia of children in West Africa during it’s civil war. The film explores the life of a child soldier in his war ridden country, striving to make it out alive. Both he and star of the film Abraham Attah, won Independent Spirit awards for their performances in the film for best supporting actor and best actor.