It's not that Idris Elba doesn't appreciate the adulation of hardcore fans of Stringer Bell
, the pivotal character he played on the HBO series The Wire.
It's just that he's sick of still talking about it, six years after Bell's untimely demise. His roles since then have been quite varied, including playing Beyoncé's husband in the film Obsessed
, Steve Carell's boss on TV show The Office
, and real-life documentarian for a forthcoming BBC series about gangs in Hackney, the East London neighborhood from which he hails. Next on the silver screen for Elba: Starring as Gordon Jennings in Takers
, opening August 27. That smooth heist film also features T.I., Chris Brown, Matt Dillon, Hayden Christensen, Michael Ealy, and Paul Walker.
Elba is also an accomplished music producer
who was once a pirate radio DJ in the UK -- yet he prefers to keep this passion somewhat separate from his acting career.
"As a musician, I don't like to talk to rapper/actors about music," he says during an interview at the Ritz-Carlton San Francisco. "It's just corny. And, you know, I worked with Beyoncé and we never spoke about music. I sent Jay-Z that intro
[to his American Gangster
album], we didn't work on it together, and that was the closest I've gotten to working with rappers as far as music is concerned."
"I straddle the fence with music a little bit and stuff," Elba says. "Rappers and musicians, it's such hard work to put music out there that they don't really sort of [say], 'Oh, you're an actor who does music? Yeah, great.' It's different when rappers wanna do film. Some actors hate to work with rappers. I don't. I just suspect that you have to be really good at what you do. I will definitely support you while you're on set and make sure you're up to speed."
With that said, Elba is working on a mixtape inspired by Takers.
"What I did is I asked the people on my Twitter account to send me stuff," he explains, "and I had shitloads of music sent to me. Tip [T.I.] and Chris Brown are going to give me some music and there will be some superstar acts, but I'm also going to mix it up with some complete unknowns from the land of Twitterverse."
Before the film opens next week, you can actually catch Elba DJing a two-hour house music set tonight at "Base" at Vessel
(near Union Square). We expect that Elba's pirate radio background and insistence on avoiding corniness will lead a refined selection of both rare old-school gems and consummate new cuts at the party.