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Top 10 Things You Didn't Know About Idris Elba

VO: Ashley Bowman WRITTEN BY: Marc Turner
Want to be in the know about Idris? Then you’ve come to the right place. Welcome to WatchMojo UK, and today we’ll be counting down our picks for the top 10 things you (probably) didn’t know about Idris Elba. For this list we’re looking at the most intriguing facts about the life and career of one of Britain’s most talented and popular actors. Special thanks to our user RichardFB for submitting the idea on our interactive suggestion tool: WatchMojo.comsuggest
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Top 10 Things You Didn't Know About Idris Elba


Want to be in the know about Idris? Then you’ve come to the right place. Welcome to WatchMojo UK, and today we’ll be counting down our picks for the top 10 things you (probably) didn’t know about Idris Elba.

For this list we’re looking at the most intriguing facts about the life and career of one of Britain’s most talented and popular actors.

#10: He Started Off in Musical Theatre


Elba first got into drama while at secondary school, and he joined the National Music Theatre with the help of a grant from the Prince’s Trust. There, he won a part in the musical “Guys and Dolls”, playing the role of “Big Jule” and understudying for one of the lead roles – Nathan Detroit. Such is Elba’s love of musicals, he actually auditioned for the role of Gaston in 2017’s “Beauty and the Beast.” Want to see a brief clip of the main man singing his heart out? Of course you do.

#9: He’s a Gifted Musician


Elba’s flair for music extends beyond just his vocal chords, though. From the age of eight, he helped out with his uncle’s DJing business, and he has since performed at prestigious music festivals including Glastonbury and Creamfields under the name DJ Big Driis. Idris has also rapped for the Loose Tapestries, collaborated with Jay-Z on the album “American Gangster”, and remixed two tracks for 2016’s “The Jungle Book” in which he voiced the character of Shere Khan. Plus, did we mention he’s got his own record label and has released several records?

#8: He Has a Foot Fetish


Yes, you heard right. This surprising revelation emerged when Elba appeared on “The Graham Norton Show” in 2017. Idris was promoting the film “The Mountain Between Us” in which he and co-star Kate Winslet get stranded in the wilderness following a plane crash. Details start emerging about Idris’s fetish when Winslet discusses an intimate scene between the two actors. Elba’s fixation also shines through in a film he wrote and directed for Sky Arts’ “Playhouse Presents,” in which Anna Friel plays an accountant with an impressive collection of shoes.

#7: He’s a Kick-Ass Kickboxer


Elba doesn’t just play the tough guy on screen. The Hackney-born actor has been kickboxing since his 20s, and in 2017 he took part in a Discovery Channel documentary that followed his attempts to become a professional kickboxer in just twelve months. Idris trained with elite fighters including Buakaw and Tyrone Spong, and his first professional bout was against a member of one of the world’s top kickboxing gyms. Though Elba was hurt in the early exchanges, he came back strongly for a grandstand finish.

#6: He Has More Than One Celebrity Crush


Elba is reportedly admired by numerous famous women, including (but not limited to) Rebel Wilson and Helen Mirren. But his own celebrity crushes might surprise you. He once admitted to having eyes for Jennifer Lawrence, Halle Berry, and former Wonder Woman actress Lynda Carter, but his ultimate crush is Meryl Streep. Idris once even said that when he met her, his “tongue swelled up in [his] mouth.” Since Idris is now engaged to former Miss Vancouver, Sabrina Dhowre, he might want to keep such facts to himself in future!

#5: He Once Lived in a Van


Money is often tight for aspiring actors, and Elba once revealed that he had to sleep in a van while looking for jobs in New York. To bring in funds, he worked in an amazing variety of roles including as a club doorman and a cold-call advertiser. But his most eye-catching job was as an actor on “Crimewatch,” in which he played criminals in gruesome reconstructions in what he says was one of his toughest acting gigs of his life. Good practice for his breakthrough role in “The Wire,” we reckon!

#4: He’s the Pinnacle of Fashion


Elba regularly features in the upper echelons of GQ magazine’s annual list of the 50 best-dressed British men, being labelled the “perfect combination of traditional and stylish.” It’s unsurprising, then, that in 2015 he helped to design his own 250-piece clothing line in association with fashion retailer Superdry. Idris’s involvement coincided with an uplift in the brand’s fortunes, with pre-tax profits at Superdry’s parent company rising by over 50% in just two years. The actor has since gone on to launch his very own clothing company, “Shoot The Rehearsal,” in 2018.

#3: He’s Been to Prison ... Sort Of


In preparation for his starring role in the 2013 biographical film “Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom,” Elba went to great lengths to understand his character. As well as researching Nelson Mandela’s history, he travelled to Robben Island and spent a night in the jail where the late South African President was imprisoned for 18 years. Alone, and with nothing but a blanket for a mattress, Elba managed just one hour of sleep thanks largely to the ghosts he says haunt the island. Rather you than us, Idris.

#2: He’s a Record Breaker


Elba is a self-confessed petrol-head, and in 2015 he featured in another Discovery Channel miniseries called “Idris Elba: No Limits.” As well as taking part in drag-racing and rallying, Idris travelled to Pendine Sands beach in Wales to attempt to break the British land speed record – known as the Flying Mile. And he succeeded, too, despite challenging tidal conditions. The previous record was set at 174.8 mph by Sir Malcolm Campbell in 1927, but Elba comfortably surpassed it with an impressive 180.361 mph in his Bentley Continental GT Speed.

#1: He Didn't Want to Play Stringer Bell


HBO series “The Wire” may have made Idris famous, but he didn’t originally audition for the part of his best-known character. Instead he wanted the role of Bell’s boss, Avon Barksdale, who was ultimately played by Wood Harris. Elba once revealed he had mixed feelings about Stringer Bell’s death in series 3. For, whilst he admitted he missed getting paid for the role, he believed his character glorified drug dealers and deserved to die. And Stringer Bell certainly lived and died by the sword – or gun, in this case.
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