Luther star Idris Elba is back playing the rough and ready cop, but there's more to him than playing a TV detective. We unearthed a few surprises...
After rising to fame playing an American gangster in HBO’s The Wire, Idris Elba has gone from strength to strength in his career. But it’s not just acting he’s good at, he has many strings to his bow as we’ve discovered…
1 Early life
Idris’s full name is Idrissa Akuna Elba and was born in Hackney in London on 6 September 1972, His late father, Winston, was from Sierra Leone and his mum, Eve, is from Ghana. After leaving school at 16, Idris won a place in the National Youth Music Theatre, with a £1500 grant from The Prince’s Trust.
2 Idris’s odd jobs
While carving a career as an actor, he also worked in various jobs, such as tyre-fitting, bricklaying and also worked night shifts at Ford Dagenham, where his father also worked.
3 Breaking out
His first acting role was appearing in Crimewatch reconstructions, then popped up in BBC children’s show The Boot Street Band, before landing a role in 1995 in Victorian medical drama Bramwell, playing a thief called Charlie Carter.
4 Rise to fame
After receiving praise playing American gangster Stringer Bell in HBO drama series The Wire from 2002 to 2004, Idris then signed a deal to star as the lead role of BBC cop drama Luther, which first aired in 2010, making him a household name.
5 Musical interests
As well as acting, Idris also turns his hand to DJing, using the name DJ Big Driis, DJing in nightclubs at aged 19. He’s also a hip hop and soul musician with his own record label, and has worked with Jay-Z and Mumford and Sons, and was the opening act for Madonna in Berlin during her Rebel Heart Tour.
6 Idris likes a laugh!
Idris is a massive fan of BBC1 sitcom Only Fools and Horses, and always wanted to star in the show but never got an audition. He recently said he’d love to play Del Boy, bringing back the show with a modern twist.
7 Time to get personal…
He’s been married twice, first to make-up artist Hanne Norgaard, then to lawyer Sonya Nicole Hamlin. He has two children, a daughter, Isan, with Hanne and a son with his ex-girlfriend Naiyana Garth. He supports Arsenal Football Club and is an Anti-crime Ambassador for The Princes Trust.
8 It’s an honour
He was awarded an OBE for services to drama in the New Year’s Honours. He also had a MOBO Inspiration Award under his belt, which he won in 2014 and was voted male ‘Rear of the Year’ in 2017!
9 Idris the acti0n man!
He has taken up many a challenge for the Discovery Channel, training for and entering a professional kickboxing fight for Idris Elba: Fighter as well as breaking the land speed record on a beach in Wales by driving at 180mph and flying in stunt plane in an aerobatics display in No Limits.
10 Royal Connections
Idris and his model fiancée Sabrina Dhowre attended Prince Harry and Meghan Markle’s wedding in May 2018, rubbing shoulders with the likes of George Clooney. ‘It remains one of the highlights of my life,’ he says. ‘Harry’s a friend of mine. It was a beautiful experience, like all weddings are.’
11 Lots of fingers in pies!
He has designed a clothing line, Shoot the Rehearsal, which he launched in 2016, and is a partner in a London Cocktail bar called The Parrot at the Waldorf Hotel!
Picture credits: Main image: REX/Shutterstock, Luther: BBC/Des Willie, Only Fools and Horses: BBC, Prince Harry and Meghan: Tim Rooke/REX/Shutterstock