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Considering An American Version Of 'Luther'... Who Would Star?

Photo of Tambay A. Obenson By Tambay A. Obenson | Shadow and Act June 17, 2013 at 2:22PM

Has American television ever seen a character like John Luther - as played by Idris Elba in the hit BBC One series, Luther? The genius, emotionally-impulsive detective tormented by humanity's darker side, complicatedly-drawn and incisively brought to life on screen by Mr Elba.
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Luther

Has American television ever seen a character like John Luther - as played by Idris Elba in the hit BBC One series, Luther? The genius, emotionally-impulsive detective tormented by humanity's darker side, complicatedly-drawn and incisively brought to life on screen by Mr Elba.

I can't think of anything close to what Luther brings - what those of us who are fans of the series (especially here in the USA), really appreciate about it, since that kind of a complex character in a detective series like Luther, is painfully lacking on American television, and has been for a long time. And we have to look across the pond for him.

Granted, Luther wasn't originally scripted as a black man. Luther could've been any race, color, ethnicity, etc. Idris just happens to be black, and his *blackness* doesn't really have any influence on the individual story strands of the series, and each of its episodes - something that I think also adds to its appeal.

At least, that hasn't happened thus far - where skin color becomes a character, or a deliberate focus in an episode of the series; and I don't think that'll change in the upcoming third season. You'll recall that Idris Elba has long stressed that he isn't necessarily interested in being "the black actor," or in playing "black characters," or starring in "black films" that tell "black stories."

But I digress... a bit.

With Luther going into its 3rd and final season this fall, I've heard rumors that an American TV network might be looking to pick it up and continue the series, likely with Luther as a black American character.

Now before I go one, let me emphasize that these are just RUMORS! I don't have any confirmation of this whatsoever. None! So if any other sites pick up on this story, please don't quote this as fact, with S&A as your source.

Again, nothing but rumors.

But that's really not the main focus of this post.

One might automatically assume that IF an American TV network (whether cable TV or broadcast) were interested in adapting the show for American audiences, that Idris would star. Unfortunately, Idris has already pretty much said that he won't be returning for another season of the BBC series, because, first, he really wants to take the character from the small screen to the big screen next, producing and starring in a Luther feature film. And secondly, he wants to do other things.

It's actually a perfect set-up if you ponder it. Luther season 3 (its final season on the BBC) ends later this year; the Luther feature is packaged and financed for a 2014 shoot; it debuts in 2015; and right around that time, some TV network (hopefully a cable TV network like HBO, Showtime, AMC, FX, etc) announce that they've ordered an American version of the series, taking advantage of all the ongoing publicity, and feeding into fan frenzy, as the feature film opens in theaters. Or maybe the announcement is made at around the same time that the feature project is.

Of course, again, all of this is completely hypothetical, so just humor me and play along!

The question I have for you all is this: if an American adaptation of Luther were to happen, what black American actor would you like to see play Luther?

I recall when the first trailer for Blair Underwood's Ironside reboot surfaced, some suggested that Ironside as a black man may have been in reaction to the success of Luther in the USA. I don't really know about that actually. But maybe. Underwood has had a first-look deal with NBCUniversal since The Event, which included an item stating that they would create at least one series around him. So this Ironside reboot is an attempt. I just can't say that it's reason for being is indeed influenced by Luther's success.

Keep in mind that, even though many of us are fans of Luther, and have been following the series since its first season a couple of years ago, it's still not as popular a show as you'd think. A lot of us haven't even heard of it. And I mean black people specifically. So there's still room for it to grow as more folks discover it. But my point is that I'm not sure if it's been a popular enough show, with impressive ratings, that it would inspire a TV studio exec to want to mimic its success, since they seem to love to do that - copy something that's already been successful.

But again, if you were to make a short list of actors you'd love to see star in an Americanized Luther series, what black American actors would be on it?

This article is related to: TV Features


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