Former "Wire" star Idris Elba (left) will bring his prime-Sean-Connery manliness and dry-ice street smarts to a heroic role originated by that wily king of gravitas, Morgan Freeman.
Elba will play the title character in an adaptation of James Patterson's thriller "Cross." Freeman played the forensic psychologist Alex Cross in two previous Patterson adaptations, "Kiss the Girls" and "Along Came A Spider."
This year has been busy for Elba, whose British homicide-detective series "Luther" airs on BCC America starting October 17. He will also romance Laura Linney on multiple episodes of Showtime's "The Big C."
Even if you had never seen "The Wire," you could tell Elba had a major movie star's aura from his opposite performances in two wildly different big-screen hits, "This Christmas" and "Obsessed." In "This Christmas," he was superbly, sometimes hilariously confrontational as a reckless jazz saxophonist; you could sense Elba's relief at letting loose after years of Stringer Bell's emotional deep freeze. In "Obsessed," he brought a mulish strength to a white-collar man caught in a "Fatal Attraction"-type plot.
He took some critical hits from his decision to bring his magnetic strength to properties like the comic-book espionage film, "The Losers," and the action caper, "Takers," which opens a week from today. But "Luther" restored his critical luster with British reviewers and may do the same with the American press when it makes its debut here in the fall.
Elba and Freeman can both be magnificent onscreen, but, gravitas aside, they have very different presences. So far, even in genre roles, Freeman is often the looser, more versatile performer. (That's Freeman as Cross, right.) Do you think Elba will cement his standing as a movie star with "Cross?" And are Patterson fans relieved that Elba better fits the physical description of Cross in the books?