Idris Elba

Idris Elba was a British actor who became known for playing the Baltimore drug dealer Stringer Bell on HBO's widely-acclaimed drama "The Wire" (HBO, 2002-08), in addition to countless other high profile television and film roles. Elba was born in Hackney, London in 1972. His parents were immigrants (his father was born in Sierra Leone, while his mother was from Ghana), and moved to London by way of Sierra Leone shortly before Elba was born. Elba grew up in East Ham and Hackney, and first got interested in acting after seeing an advertisement in a London-based entertainment publication. The advertisement was asking newbie actors to audition for a new play. Elba jumped at the opportunity, and showed up at the audition. On his first try, Elba landed the part, and would later meet his first agent while performing in the play. Performing in the play was an eye-opening experience for Elba, who decided quickly after that he wanted to be an actor. At the age of 16 he was able to land a huge break by landing a spot in the National Youth Music Theater, thanks to a grant from the Prince's Trust charitable organization. While a member of the National Youth Music Theater, Elba was able to hone his acting craft, while developing the necessary skills he needed to make it as a performer. It was also around this time that Elba began working for his uncle's wedding D.J. company and found that he absolutely loved scratching records. His love grew so strong that by his late teens Elba embarked on a career as a D.J. He would go on to play music in London nightclubs in the evening, while working a number of odd jobs by the day. In his early 20s Elba made a serious attempt at launching his acting career. In addition to working his D.J. jobs, in which he went by the name of Big Driis, he began auditioning for film and TV roles. By the mid-1990s, Elba was landing steady acting work in the U.K. He nabbed guest spots on the children's sitcom "2point4 Children" (BBC One, 1991-99) and the British comedy series "Absolutely Fabulous" (BBC Two/BBC One, 1992-2012), before landing a recurring role on the crime series "The Ruth Rendell Mysteries" (ITV, 1987-2000). By the late 90s and early 2000s Elba was nabbing recurring parts on a number of British television shows, including "Insiders" (BBC One, 1997), "Ultraviolet" (Channel 4, 1998), and "Dangerfield" (BBC One, 1995-99). Then in 2002 Elba landed his first big break across the pond when he was cast as Stringer Bell, a Baltimore-based drug kingpin, on David Simon's multi-layered crime drama series "The Wire." Elba played Stringer Bell for 37 episodes of the widely-acclaimed series, before his character was killed off in season 3. After playing Stringer Bell for three years, Idris Elba's acting career in both the U.K. and the United States flourished. In addition to nabbing parts in high-profile films like "28 Weeks Later" (2007) and "American Gangster" (2007), he starred as the title character in the BBC crime series "Luther" (BBC One, 2010 - ). He also landed a recurring role on the beloved American sitcom "The Office" (NBC, 2005-2013) in 2009. By the early 2010s Elba's acting profile continued to grow at a rapid pace. He appeared in blockbuster films like "Thor" (2011), "Prometheus" (2012), and "Pacific Rim" (2013), and was also cast as Nelson Mandela in the 2013 bio pic "Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom" (2013). In 2016 Elba was nominated for a Golden Globe for his captivating performance in the drama "Beasts of No Nation" (2015), and appeared in the films "Molly's Game" (2017) and "Avengers: Infinity War" (2018). 2019 also proved to be a big year for Idris Elba. In addition to co-creating and starring in the Netflix series "Turn Up Charlie" (Netflix, 2019- ), a partially autobiographical show that was based on his experiences as a D.J., Elba appeared alongside The Rock and Jason Statham in the blockbuster action film "Fast & Furious Presents: Hobbs and Shaw" (2019). When "Hobbs and Shaw" was released in the summer of 2019 the film made over $700 billion, making it one of the highest grossing films of the year-just another reason why Idris Elba had certified his status as one of Hollywood's most bankable actors of the 2010s.