Getty ImagesIdris Elba has become one of the hottest exports to come out of England since James Bond, and it might surprise some people to know the 43-year-old British heartthrob has actually been around for a while! He’s worked on a string of TV series both in England and the States and in the last several years has made his foray into the big, bad world of film. One thing’s for sure — we don’t care how long it took for him to get here, we just care that he got here because we’re obsessed!
So without further adieu, here are ten things you never knew about the man, the legend – Idris Elba.
1. Idris’s full name is Idrissa Akuna Elba and he was born in London, England to a Sierra Leonean father named Winston and a Ghanaian mother named Eve.
2. Idris started out in life wanting to be a DJ. In 1986 at the age of 14, he began DJing weddings with his uncle and a year later started his own DJ business under the name DJ Big Driss!
3. He loves to cook! “I went to Trinity boys’ school, Canning Town, East London, the edge of the industrial world,” Idris told Details magazine. “But we had this home economics class where you got tough lads like me and my mates learning how to cook, and I absolutely loved that. Cooking and riding the bike, they’re therapeutic: Both make you get out of your own head for a little while. It’s a massive reset.”
4. Idris picked up his perfect American accent by sitting in a barber shop in Brooklyn. ”They used to call me English. ‘Yo, waddup, English!’ I was like, ‘I’m trying to get this accent down, do you mind if I just sit in the barbershop and talk?’ And that was it, man. When you’ve got people snapping on you, you can’t come back with the rebuttals in an English accent. It’s not quick enough. They’d be like, ‘What you say? The queen ain’t up in here. Ain’t nobody can understand you!’ So you know, I’d just have to get into it.”
5. Idris directed and starred in the Mumford & Sons music video “Lover of the Light.” No, really! Check it out below!
6. Idris is the voice of Shere Khan the tiger in Disney’s upcoming live action version of The Jungle Book. Other notable actors lending their voices to the project include Bill Murray as Baloo, Ben Kingsley as Bagheera, Scarlett Johansson as Kaa and Christopher Walken as King Louie.
7. He’s a die hard Gooner! Idris has long been a fan of the British football team Arsenal, saying “I have supported Arsenal since I was a teenager. My earliest memory was when I was at school, we would play football in the playground and declare our teams. I would always be Arsenal! We didn’t have the real kit but would wear red t-shirts, so my earliest memory is pretending to play for Arsenal in the playground.”
8. Is there anything he can’t do?! Idris hung out behind the camera in 2014 to direct a short film for Pepsi Max’s World Cup campaign called Unstoppable. Check it out below!
9. When Idris first moved to New York from England to pursue acting, he worked as a doorman at a comedy club called Caroline’s to make ends meet and he also sold weed! “I was DJ’ing, but I was also pushing bags of weed; I was doing my work,” he told GQ. “I had to. I know that sounds corny, but this is the truth.”
10. He’s even a fashion designer! Idris collaborated with Superdry on a collection of men’s clothes, because if anyone knows what looks good on a man, it’s Idris Elba! “I’m a hybrid,” he says. “I’m part of the slash culture: actor-slash-director-slash-DJ and having a multi-layered creative output is important to me.I’m not the kind of guy who will wear a pair of jeans I was sent and then endorse them, that’s just not me.”