When I look in the mirror I don’t see James Bond. Idris Elba speaks about his new thriller “Beast”, and his DJ career, surviving road trips and the bond rumours.
IN HIS NEW FILM, “Beast,” Idris Elba plays a father who brings his teenage daughters to the South African village where their late mother was raised. The movie quickly becomes a thriller with the entrance of a vengeful, hungry lion. If the idea of a blockbuster that foregrounds the terror brought about by a hostile apex predator feels familiar, that’s intentional. Mr Elba says the team behind “Beast” took “the temperature of why ‘Jaws’ works” into account while making their film. “We wanted to make something that resonates and [becomes] a classic.”
The result has the heart of a family road-trip film. While sheltering from the lion in a car, the three process their loss. Mr Elba, 49, is no stranger to the family road trip—as terrifying for some fathers as sharks. But the English actor says none he’s taken with his two children have inspired him to pick up a tranquillizer gun. “I don’t mind a road trip, man. I like driving.”
Here, the actor, DJ and perennial favourite of the future James-Bond rumour mill offers his favourite video game and his must-have tunes to fill the dance floor.
My longest road trip has been: between Detroit and Atlanta years ago. I was alone and it went very well. I did it in one sitting.
I always pack a: Akai MIDI keyboard so I can make music when I’m on the road. I released many songs that I did in trailers on film sets. I don’t play instruments very well, but if I have my MIDI keyboard, I can find my way around. I did a house track called “Body Shots” in South Africa when we were filming “Beast”.
I spend a lot of time playing: Football “FIFA 21” on my Xbox between shots when I’m not making music. I play with my team: my hairdresser, my makeup artist, and security. It’s addictive and I have a lot of fun. I’m an Arsenal fan, so sometimes I play with Arsenal. Other times I play with Paris Saint-Germain, which is a very good team.
My favourite accessory is My Samsung Galaxy watch. I can make calls on it without using my phone, and I use it to listen to curated stuff on Spotify and Tidal. The more varied it is, the more I don’t know what [the song] is going to be, the better.
Lately, I listened: to a lot of old-school Congolese music. I love the instrumentation and the sounds recorded on old analogue gear. You can hear the hum of the guitar and all that. I also like this singer from the UK called Cleo Sol. She is incredible. His music is truly inspiring.
When I was DJing weddings, I could always fill the floor with: “Hot Hot Hot”, by artist Calypso Arrow. It’s mean. He’s got this kind of “Oh, man, I’m going to dance to this” energy.
I learned to: conduct. I found a job with a tire repairer; I was 14, but I told them I was 16. They said, “When the cars come, sometimes you have to move them. So, I jumped in the car, put it in first gear and taught myself. And these cars were manual. If you took the clutch too fast, it stalled. You didn’t want to do that in front of the boss, because then he’d be like, Well, can you drive? I learned to drive fast.
My first car was: a red Mini Cooper. It was really old, had green leather seats and you could smell the engine. I liked it. It was also a manual.
Nowadays, learning to drive a manual is: about as useful as learning to write with the left hand.
Today I ride a Mercedes-Benz EQC, which is a small electric car. It’s so smooth.
During confinement, I found a love for gymnastics. I was looking for ways to stay in shape, went down a rabbit hole on YouTube and came across a whole bunch of classic gym routines. I became obsessed and fascinated by the strength and agility of the human body. I thought to myself, “When I get out of here, I’m going to be a gymnast.” I have not done it yet.