Idris Elba bounces into big time with parts for Guillermo del Toro, Ridley Scott
By Michael Sragow
Jun 23, 2011 | 8:46 AM
The producers of the Alex Cross series reboot ("I, Alex Cross") disappointed Idris Elba fans -- and Alex Cross fans, too -- when they dropped Elba from their plans and cast Tyler Perry instead in the role of the intrepid forensic psychologist.
But Elba scored as the Norse god Heimdall in "Thor" and has kept busy shooting Ridley Scott's sort-of-prequel to "Alien," 'Prometheus."
Even better, he has just been cast, according to Deadline's Mike Fleming, in Guillermo del Toro's "Pacific Rim," a sci-fi epic about humans devising robots capable of saving the planet from invading aliens.
Elba won over the American press as "Stringer Bell" in "The Wire" and lost it when he brought his magnetic strength to commercial films like "The Losers." But he gained new respect from critics -- and reporters like Mike Fleming -- with "Luther," the headlong police miniseries that aired on BBC-America.
The New York Times had portrayed Elba as a calculating performer cynically plotting out a superstar career before "The Losers." But it praised him in "Luther" for re-energizing the story of a cop working on the edge of police ethics and the verge of a nervous breakdown.
When I asked Elba a year ago what he thought I should know about Luther, the actor said that this London homicide detective is "simmering with rage." So I was relieved to find that what really marks Luther is his brilliance. He delivers acute high-speed observations without the grating or ingratiating hokum and mannerisms of the wizards on "Lie to Me" and "The Mentalist."
Photo of Idris Elba at "Thor" premiere by Frederick M. Brown for Getty