When you think ‘Norse god,’ a Black British actor might not immediately come to mind. But in the world of the new movie Thor, based on the Marvel comic books and characters from Norse mythology, the tall and imposing Idris Elba fits right in as Heimdall, the all-seeing, armor-clad gatekeeper of the realm of Asgard. “The notion of ethnicity is played secondhand,” says Elba, for whom the colorblind casting afforded the chance to work with director Kenneth Brannagh, be part of an action fantasy, and act in front of green screen special effects for the first time.
“I got the opportunity to use my imagination in a different way. As an actor, I want to have fun with every role I have and try to do something different,” says Elba, known for his roles in TV’s The Wire and films Obsessed, Losers and 28 Weeks Later. His “small, functional” part in Thor isn’t as juicy, “but in terms of my experiences, it’s one of the most fun,” he says, calling it “part of a palette” of characters he’s played and wants to play.
Despite a 40-60 pound costume including a helmet and yellow contact lenses that limited his vision, Elba would be up for a Thor sequel. He’s completed roles in Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance, playing a motorcycle-riding warrior monk who speaks with a French accent and Prometheus, a Ridley Scott sci-fi flick he’s sworn not to discuss. He’ll return to BBC America in Luther’s second season “hopefully in the fall. It’s a really complex character I enjoy playing,” says Elba, who’s considering doing a play in England next year.
“The platforms for actors are so varied right now. I’d like to see myself onstage and in another series perhaps. I’m the kind of actor that wants to do it all,” offers Elba. “I’d like the opportunity to do a little more comedy, maybe a romantic comedy, a bit more action and of course my drama work, which I love.”
Also passionate about music, Elba records in his home studio, deejays at clubs, and is putting together a soundtrack for a movie called Suicide Kids.
(Photo: Albert L. Ortega/PictureGroup)