Idris Elba on ‘Pacific Rim’ and playing Mandela

Cast members Charlie Day, Idris Elba, Rinko Kikuchi, Charlie Hunnam, Robert Kazinsky, Diego Klattenhoff and Ron Perlman pose at the premiere of "Pacific Rim" at Dolby theatre in Hollywood
“Pacific Rim” opens Friday.
Credit: Reuters

British actor Idris Elba may be best known as an enterprising Baltimore drug lord on the HBO series “The Wire,” but he has a growing presence in sci-fi films and will play South African anti-apartheid icon Nelson Mandela in his first biopic.

Elba, who starred in 2011′s action-adventure “Thor” and 2012 sci-fi film “Prometheus,” will next be seen as a general in Guillermo del Toro’s epic sci-fi disaster film “Pacific Rim,” out in U.S. theaters on Friday.

The London-born actor will star alongside Charlie Hunnam, Rinko Kikuchi, Charlie Day and Ron Perlman in the film about a battle between giant alien monsters who ravage Earth and giant man-made robots known as Jaegers.

Elba, 40, talked to Reuters about working with Del Toro, portraying Mandela and how music features into his career.

What drew you to the character of Stacker Pentecost in “Pacific Rim?”

[Del Toro] has got a real big imagination. He is a kid in a man’s body that has been given all these visual toys to bring his imagination to life. When you look at “Pan’s Labyrinth,” which is so delicate and so provoking … for me, it was being able to work with a master filmmaker like him.

Del Toro said he put the cast through their paces in the giant Jaeger simulators. How grueling were those scenes?

It was just very tough to have to be put in the big massive simulator all day long … it was really, really tough. In actuality, if there was a real Jaeger program … we would all be the most qualified to do it.

For this film, Del Toro said he specifically chose to cast actors more known more for their cult TV shows than film. What do you think of his choice of actors?

The days of movie stars, so to speak, is just behind us. What is a movie star? We’ve got people on the Internet that are bigger than television stars. I think the landscape is changing a little bit … Before there were movie stars. There were people who were just actors and they said their lines and they became movie stars because people liked them. For me, I think that’s the healthy way to make film.

You play Nelson Mandela in the upcoming film “Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom.” What did the role mean to you and did you meet Mandela when preparing?

It meant so much to me, it’s such a massive opportunity to be part of a true legend’s life, and more importantly, the film re-educates people on this legend.

I never met Mr. Mandela because he was very ill, so our interpretation of him was without his personal influence. But the script is such a good script, and obviously it comes from his book, and the book speaks for itself.

Did you feel any pressure in playing Mandela?

This is the first real biopic I’ve done, and there’s no real difference in the process, but it’s Mr. Mandela. So that’s huge, everyone knows who he is and what he sounds like, and I look nothing like him.

If I get judged, which I will, about my performance or how I sound or how I look, I think people miss the point. The point is that this is called “Long Walk to Freedom,” this is the book about his life and it’s his own words.

How do you want people to remember Mandela from the film?

That he’s a man. He’s a human being. I think we forget that, that he is human.

You have a music career on the side as DJ Big Driis. You put out your own EP (extended play recording) and featured in Jay Z’s 2007 album “American Gangster.” What does music mean to you?

My music stuff is always a part. What it’s become for me recently is that it’s a reset between all the stuff I do. I go back to it to kind of remember who … I am. It’s really the one point of my life that I get to be creative without any pressure.

 



News
Entertainment
Sports
Lifestyle
Local

Brooklyn man charged in roommate's stabbing death

A Brooklyn man accused of violently stabbing his roommate to death on Monday is in police custody and faces murder charges.

International

Dinosaurs could have survived asteroid strike

It turns out there is a good and a bad time for the planet to be hit by a meteor, and dinosaurs were just unlucky.…

National

OkCupid admits to Facebook-style experimenting on customers

By Sarah McBrideSAN FRANCISCO (Reuters) - OkCupid, a top U.S. matchmaking website, intentionally mismatched users to test its technology, the IAC/InterActive Corp service said on…

Local

MTA fares still increasing 4 percent in newly…

The agency said the 4 percent increases, previously announced in December, will remain steady even as the MTA deals with increasing labor costs.

Movies

Interview: Brendan Gleeson on the way 'Calvary' depicts…

Brendan Gleeson talks about how his new film "Calvary" began over drinks and how his character here is the opposite of the lead in "The Guard."

Movies

'Get on Up' producer Mick Jagger on the…

Mick Jagger, a producer on the James Brown biopic "Get on Up," talks about the time had to tell the singer some bad news and his favorite JB record.

Television

'Glee' star Lea Michele to appear on 'Sons…

"Glee" star Lea Michele has been confirmed as a guest star in the final season of "Sons of Anarchy."

Television

TV watch list, Monday, July 28: 'The Bachelorette'…

See Andi Dorfman make her big choice on tonight's 'Bachelorette' finale.

MLB

Angelo Cataldi: Ryan Howard deserves better from Phillies

Just last week, Ryan Howard endured the embarrassment of a benching that was inevitable, and yet still shocking.

NFL

Larry Donnell has inside track in Giants tight…

Little-known Larry Donnell of Grambling State currently has the inside track, as the second-year player has received the bulk of the first-team reps.

NFL

Computer to Jets: Start Michael Vick over Geno…

Jets general manager John Idzik says the choice of who starts between second-year quarterback Geno Smith and veteran Michael Vick will be a “Jets decision.”

MLB

Yankees looking to trade for Josh Willingham: Report

CBS Sports’ Jon Heyman reported Sunday the Yankees are interested in Twins outfielder Josh Willingham.

Travel

Glasgow: Hey, hey, the gangs aren't here

This European city has done a good job getting rid of its more violent residents and revitalizing with artists.

Education

Babson College tops list of best colleges for…

Money magazine has just released its inaugural list of "The Best Colleges for Your Money" -- and the answers have surprised many. Babson College, which…

Education

NYC teens learn how to develop apps during…

Through a program sponsored by CampInteractive, the high schoolers designed their own community-focused apps.

Tech

The Ministry of Silly Walks app is both…

Monty Python have dug into their back catalogue for cash-ins once more, but with the Ministry of Silly Walks app, they've made something that's fun too.