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"Luther" Season 2 Debuts Tonight + Idris: "I didn't come to America to play 'black roles...'"

by Tambay A. Obenson
September 28, 2011 4:26 AM
40 Comments
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Tonight's the night! The second season of Luther, the critically acclaimed psychological crime drama starring one Idris Elba, premieres at 10PM, on BBC America for stateside audiences, when its new so-called Dramaville hour, to be hosted by Idris, debuts.

Oh, and by the way, a 3rd season of Luther has been ordered, if you haven't already heard.

Season 2 reportedly outperformed season 1 (in the UK, where it aired earlier this year), attracting over 5 million viewers, and was well received by critics.

And in anticipation of tonight's debut, earlier today, NPR interviewed Idris, not only about the series, but they also spoke The Wire (specifically how he got the role, taking advice from his agent), Idris' dream role (Nelson Mandela, which surprised me), and the rumors that he might one day play James Bond ("I'd do it, but I don't want to be called the black James Bond").

He also kind of addressed something that's frequently debated around here, also known as "the burden of representation," stating, "I didn't come to America to play "black roles," I came to play roles."

Listen to the full interview below:

Idris Elba: The Man Who Is Luther, Was Stringer, And Could Be James Bond by user3816174

Here's the Dramaville Luther launch trailer:

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40 Comments

  • misha | October 1, 2011 8:34 AMReply

    @Jug Well, here's the thing: I am black! LOL So I have no problem with someone describing me that way. Is it all I am? Of course not. But I don't consider being described as such as limiting or a bad thing.

  • misha | October 1, 2011 5:34 AMReply

    Also, I get what JMac is saying about transcending race but that's another troubling concept to me. Two things. One, to transcend one's race basically means that there's something problematic about one's race and thus one must transcend it in order to be successful. And two, why it aways people of color who have to transcend race? It's really an absurd idea not to mention, unneccesary and impossible....similar to the colorblind concept. One need not be colorblind or transcend one's race. The goal shouldn't be to ignore race (as if we could) but rather, not to judge one based solely on race.

    I could go on but a sista is sleepy! Peace!

  • misha | October 1, 2011 5:30 AMReply

    @Jug No disrespect but I didn't read your entire post. It's too damn long! LOL

    Seriously, not interested in a debate. I'll just say that the negative/limited connotations placed on "blackness" has always been troubling to me. Saying things like I don't want to be called the "black James Bond" or this isn't just a "black movie" implies that there's something wrong or limiting about such things. When in reality, it's only "wrong" or limiting if you've convinced yourself so, as "blackness" is a complex notion...one that encompasses many things.

  • Jug | October 1, 2011 3:21 AMReply

    That's because my posts are chock full o' goodness, like eatingya vegetables LOL

    Agreed about the notion of transcending saying Black must inherently be bad, but do you define yourself as "Black" first or do you define yourself as "Yourself" first? I'm Jug, not "Black" Jug LOL

  • Jug | September 30, 2011 7:52 AMReply

    I'm with you JMac, that Tyler Perry, Alex Cross mess STILL has me perplexed LOL

  • Jug | September 30, 2011 7:49 AMReply

    LMBAO, yeah I was looking at Jamie with the mean mug about SKANKROBBERS. But he is a comedian and, don't lie, folks would love to see Wanda again (I wasn't a fan to begin with, her or Shanaynay).

    But knowing what actors go thru & the craptastic choices that are often presented, I tend to look big picture & try to find a pathology to their choices. My brother has a great saying "Most artist's art comes from what they create. An actor's art comes from their choices" because simply, we mainly "interpret" work. So the stuff we choose is a reflection of who we are, our "Art"-kinda like who we date LOL

    Morgan got his big break playing a pimp (& he was Easy reader on ELECTRIC COMPANY-not the first thought for world class thespians), Denzel's butt was saved by ST. ELSEWHERE after CARBON COPY, & Fishburne was in CHERRY 2000 & DEATH WISH. OH SNAP! How could I even forget Cowboy Curtis from PEE-WEE'S PLAYHOUSE?! LMBAO Let's not forget Denzel did RICOCHET & VIRTUOSITY, two favs of mine but decidedly not good films, but his butt got saved by ST. ELSEWHERE (same could be said for Mekhi Phifer & ER, bcuz boyyy his career was headed nowhere fast). They all lept fast onto quality projects when they had their shot. Some folks' eyes aren't as good, whether their's or their reps. Denzel had Ed Limato, who was as feared an agent as he was passionate about theatre and the classics. You think he would've let Denzel be in a Tyler Perry flick? Not a chance.

    They've just been doing it so long we forget the "low points", but best believe they haven't. Because for all those "missteps" & "stepping stones", they have Oscar/Emmy/Tony glory to make it worth it...not to mention enough zeroes to make the hurt go away :-D

    And now, we're seeing it with Idris & Mackie. Let's see what happens after GANGSTER SQUAD, ABRAHAM LINCOLN: VAMPIRE HUNTER & PACIFIC RIM hit the street...

  • JMac | September 30, 2011 6:27 AMReply

    Again, real point is not every black role is a bad role. Idris seriously needs someone to coach him on interview responses.

    Oh, I would take Jamie Fox's Oscar away because the fool was this close to resurrecting Wanda in a major motion picture... with Halle Berry of all actresses. Yes, take hers away too not that she really- nevermind, not getting into that :)

    I understand many actors do crap roles to get where they want but then there are others whose entire body of work is excellent because they never settled for less. Those actors seem to be the ones who transcend race. If Idris wants to belong to that camp he's got major work to do. Despite the nonsensical unfairness money-whoring madness of Hollywood, losing a job to Tyler Perry does indicate something. Something not good.

    Guess that's enough. Hate slow Fridays.

  • CareyCarey | September 29, 2011 11:25 AMReply

    @ Jug, “LMBAO Carey, man, for real, I’m sooo far from being a star you just don’t know. I’m literally a working actor. Starving if that’s a more fitting description LOL
    Still, I found this on the Drama Centre of London’s website that sums up how I get down:

    “Drama Centre has taught me that acting is not just about doing. There is a certain necessity in the knowing behind the doing: actors should and must attain an intellectual understanding of the world they are attempting to construct.”

    Yeah man, you know I know. Well, I don’t know anything about you starving but I just wanted to champion a point I read over @ PostBourgie. I know how much thought and time you and others put into your comments and I personally wanted to tell y’all - in my own way - that many are listening and appreciate the effort. I have no problem giving another commenter a hat tip when they’ve brought something "good", funny, inspiring, thought provoking, etc, to the table, if that’s my honest and heartfelt opinion.

    Again, I was inspired to say this by the following words I copied from PostBourgie, a 2009 Black Weblog Awards Winner:

    “What makes PB so much fun for us is the commenters, the value-adding asides, and the smart-ass pushback” ~ Admin

  • Jug | September 29, 2011 10:20 AMReply

    I'll say this & I hope everybody pays attention, especially Tambay & the S&A crew. This TV dev season is allll about Female led shows. Every network is doubling down on female centered shows, especially dramas.

    I wonder just how many are going to be "written" Black/ethnic or who "cast" Black/ethnic.

    THAT is gonna be damn interesting!

  • Jug | September 29, 2011 10:07 AMReply

    And before this gets into a whole long debate, us vs them "I hate you", let me say I see where misha & JMac are coming from. Actually agree a little bit. I was just explaining the sentiment a little better. Like I said, everytime these cats get in front of a mic, they seem to say what actors & artists talk about amongst themselves without any context & they think everyone will get it.

    Course, you can't make errbody happy, but you can make it plain.

  • Jug | September 29, 2011 10:01 AMReply

    LMBAO Carey, man, for real, I'm sooo far from being a star you just don't know. I'm literally a working actor. Starving if that's a more fitting description LOL

    Still, I found this on the Drama Centre of London's website that sums up how I get down:

    "Drama Centre has taught me that acting is not just about doing. There is a certain necessity in the knowing behind the doing: actors should and must attain an intellectual understanding of the world they are attempting to construct."
    (Rachel Lee Kollis, BA Acting)


    .....Real Talk.....

  • Jug | September 29, 2011 9:56 AMReply

    JMac, no one said you had to do any of those things. I agree tho, I embrace my "checkboxes" all day long. Why not do that? Really can't do anything else..it's "Part" of who you are. But am I going to lose my Black actor card if all I want to do is Abbott & Costello skits & listen to Duran Duran on repeat?

    And just as you choose to embrace them, Idris, & those that came before him, are choosing-at least from the interviews I've seen & read, to not let it be THE defining factor. It's a choice about their life. Him being in DADDY'S LITTLE GIRLS & OBSESSION were things you have to do-Career builder type stuff-until you don't have to. Jamie Foxx being in BOOTY CALL (Yeah I seent it, What?!) & then RAY...should we take his Oscar? LOL (which incidentally it's some bullshit Eddie didn't get an Oscar for DREAMGIRLS because of NORBIT, fucking Sandra Bullock had ALL ABOUT STEVE same year as BLIND SIDE, but that's for another day).

    There's a sentiment in Hollywood:

    Three Reasons to Do Anything-
    1) The Money
    2) Whose Involved
    3) The Material

    And we all know they're not necessarily in that order & not all always in the mix, sometimes it ain't but one..

    You & AccidentalVisitor are correct, ethnic characters tend to be stock or stereotypical to downright garbage. Simply window dressing. Even if they aren't at all "offensive", they disappear on screen because they are disposable, not fleshed out enough to play or for the audience to care. So, if you came into the industry to be an "AHKTOR" & have a great career, why would you want to be stuck playing the friend of the friend, when you know there's a chance to have more? Note: I'm saying "chance to have more" meaning in today's world there's more of a chance than there was when my Mom was growing up (and it's still shit, a debate for another day).

    Folk's feelings about Idris' talent level aside, this is where the industry is right now. There's a perception he has mad range so he's vying for the status of a Fishburne (Sean Connery was originally Morpheus), Freeman (Red was white, dude played God), Denzel (every movie) & the like where they can say "I want to do a movie written for a middle aged white man about boozing, whoring, coking & saving 108 people on an airplane & damnit Paramount, YOU ARE GOING TO GIVE IT TO ME!...Oh, and throw in Robert Zemeckis for kicks" (not sure that's how the conversation went, but I can dream LOL)

    And with color-indifferent stints on THE "L" WORD, THE OFFICE, THOR, THE LOSERS & PACIFIC RIM (which is especially interesting because it was originally Black, then Tom Cruise was in the role & now back to black with Idris)-I'd say he's on his way. Neither he nor Jamie are going back to those other roles & nor should they. Clooney is not going back to FACTS OF LIFE & RETURN OF THE KILLER TOMATOES, now is he? Even Anthony Mackie, with his role in REAL STEEL, the character was written to be non-descript but "angry", he's not going back to stuff like CROSSOVER. And Mackie truly is Johnny on the spot, whenever there's a role that even comes close to being Black or in his age range, he's the list. Isn't it about moving onward & upward, or did I get the wrong memo?

    Seriously tho, listening to the whole interview & reading other interviews he's had, never once has he pulled an "I'm not black" moment. He's said "I don't want to play the Black roles". Context is key. It's multi-faceted. He doesn't want to be the jive-talking sidekick who either dies first or makes it to the end...and then dies. Who does? Who "wants" to "only"do that? For better, for worse, this isn't the studio system anymore.

    BUT if someone says play the character, written Black, who discovers the world is ending & gets everybody on the big ass boats & saves the day, then why the hell not?

    My thought is, I don't want to play Thug #3. But I will play the hell out of Nino Brown. Might be Semantics, but a Big Difference.

  • misha | September 29, 2011 9:06 AMReply

    I'm a big fan of Idris but he can miss me with that "I don't want to be the black James Bond" nonsense. And JMac brilliantly articulates why that is:

    "Being black doesn’t have to be a negative quality or a secondary quality unless you allow others to convince you otherwise. Not my fault people associate black females with certain abhorrent qualities. I’m not going to consider myself a race-less, gender-less individual due to the opinions of closeminded idiots. Wouldn’t that just make their beliefs valid?"

    There you go again JMac, spitting some serious knowledge. I love it!

  • CareyCarey | September 29, 2011 8:42 AMReply

    "Weeeeeeeeeellllllll…. this is shaping up to be the shortest debate/discussion of the week (for me) b/c I am waving the white flag on this one. Although I’ve done some foolish thangs in my time, momma didn’t raise no fool-time-fools. There is no way in hell I can counter the well spoken and wise words of The last commenters [T'Challa, BondGirl, Blaqbird,Jug] . And, they made perfect sense. Damn, y’all came up in here like gangbusters! So I bid you all adieu…. until next time" By CareyCarey on September 28


    Yes sir, 30 hours ago I felt that train a comin, and I knew I was standing on the wrong side of the track, Catfish Row. Now Jug done come up in here and laid waste to this debate.

    But he's starting to piss me off. How in the hell can negros suck n jive and tell lies if he keeps bringing the real thing? Huh, somebody answer that for me.

    But you know what, he has admitted that he is an actor... working his craft overseas and back, paid his dues with the best of them, so I'm thinking he's actually Denzel Washington or James Earl Jones. That's it b/c the boy knows too damn much about the film industry to be a bit player on "The Game" or any ol' flunky for Tyler Perry.

    Jug, can I have your autograph? Sign it to "CareyCarey, my best and loyal fan in Iowa". and send it to careydarnell@yahoo.com or http://careycarey-carrymehome.blogspot.com/

    **BIG SMILE**

  • JMac | September 29, 2011 8:34 AMReply

    Maybe I'm reading mfascreenwriter's post wrong but I think he knows those types of roles were written as "white." He was just saying that occasionally blacks get them when their acting surpasses expectations (or potential box office expectations). Idris's talent isn't anywhere near Morgan Freeman's or Lawrence Fishburne's, or Whoopi Goldberg's for that matter. Nor does he appear to have the personality, tenacity, and tact those others have to actively pursue ANY role and walk out the winner. So far, he seems to just take what he can get. And what he gets isn't that good - except for Luther.

    Secondly, I also agree his statement is clumsy. What does he consider "black roles" and why is there such a negative response to them when it all depends on the role itself? You may as well say, I don't want to live in a black neighborhood. Wouldn't it make a difference if it's in the ghetto or located inside a gated community full of buppies? Pursuit of Happyness was written for a black male lead. Would he downgrade that if he was offered the part? I doubt that's what he meant. He should try a little better next time.

    I understand there's a lot of baggage and assumptions that come with "black roles." However, to a certain extent, I think any role written for one particular race/ethnicity - regardless of the race/ethnicity - relies on assumptions, qualities, and mannerisms that race/ethnicity is expected to portray. White actors in white written roles (or even more specifically, Italian roles) are limited in their portrayals just as blacks in black roles. Definitely not as much as black roles but it's still there. Take criminal roles for example. Black criminals are usually predictably impulsive, loud, angry men with hair trigger tempers who live in certain neighborhoods, deal with certain crimes, and speak a certain way. White criminals are usually crafty, highly intelligent, quiet, methodical, tacticians, sometimes middle class or at least lives in a higher economic bracket above the average black criminal. How often do white actors play the "black criminal"? Why do we praise black actors who play the "white criminal"? I seldom see any mixing of both types or additions of other characteristics. Japanese yakuza characters have the same Japanese background devices - why are their "front" always a restaurant or massage parlor in Little Tokyo? Mexican drug lord characters have their own set of expectations. Does anyone really just play an individual or are they switching one predefined cultural template for another? If so, why is it preferable to switch from a black box to a non-black box? Same thing; different template. I can only think of a couple of black actors who took their characters outside of any box. The majority, Idris included, just follow form.

    There's nothing unique in wanting to be seen as yourself rather than as just a race, gender, color, orientation, size etc...Somehow, most people are able to deal with it. Until there's a magic potion which renders the world's stereotypical perceptions obsolete, I will continue to embrace my categories with all their depths and variances. Being black doesn't have to be a negative quality or a secondary quality unless you allow others to convince you otherwise. Not my fault people associate black females with certain abhorrent qualities. I'm not going to consider myself a race-less, gender-less individual due to the opinions of closeminded idiots. Wouldn't that just make their beliefs valid?

  • mfascreenwriter | September 29, 2011 6:37 AMReply

    This is the second time brother Idris has been "clunky" with his wording. The first time it was "black men aren't considered sexy" when what he should've said was "America is afraid of intentionally depicting black men as sexy because of the costs involved but despite all of the distorted, dehumanizing and false images out there, black men still are. In fact, it's because of this truth that there's a reluctance to depict them as such to begin with, as was the case with the slave master who claimed his slave was an animal, all the while denying him a book to read. If he truly was an animal, what's the fear of giving him a book?"

    Idris Elba once again has refused to bring a thoughtful analysis to the table. For one, the roles he so desperately covets aren't race neutral either. They're for whites, the tabula rasa in Western Society. Sure, you'll get the occasional Red in Shawshank or Bagger in Legend of Bagger Vance, but these were actors, Morgan Freeman and Will Smith, at the top of their games. Any critique of black roles (the quality of them, the obligation--forced or otherwise--for black actors to play them, must also include a critique of the overall paradigm, the other end being just as racial as the first. Enough of this colorblind nonsense. We're not there by any means.

  • AccidentalVisitor | September 29, 2011 5:33 AMReply

    Jug just said it all. Well done.

    Jug also beat me to the punch by pointing out how Red was written as a white character (both in S. King';s short story and the screenplay based upon it). The vast majority of roles for Hollywood's biggest black stars were written as white characters.

  • Jug | September 29, 2011 4:52 AMReply

    mfascreenwriter, you know that Red in SHAWSHANK was written white, right? And most of Morgan's roles, as are Denzel's, are written white or "non-descript" which usually means white, right? Same with Fishburne...not only are they stars who can command that, but they've proven that they don't need everything they do to be "written Black". It's "Black" just by nature of you being there. I watched a 1974 NY Shakespeare Festival recording of KING LEAR & James Earl Jones was Lear. Black as all get out, but nothing even nearly coming towards affectation or stereotype in his performance...he just "Was", and thus he was "Black" and we accepted him & he destroyed it.

    I think that is what Idris is referring to. It's what I mean by "clunky". We all get what he's saying, it's what Black people & especially Black artists have always said, that we want to be viewed as human beings & not the "other"-but their job of expressing it so as not to be misconstrued is pretty poor. Can you be anything other than "Black" and still be a "Human Being"? Why limit your own mind when someone is more than willing to do it for you?

    Folks wonder why my posts are so long, it's for that very reason-so you can't misunderstand what I mean.

    Once that "qualifier" is on there, "Black", it brings with it a whole host of ideas & notions (good, bad, ridiculous & the otherwise) with it. Question: when will a Black Man cease being a "Black" Man & just be "a Man"-it starts from the inside out. And as an actor, learning about humanity, it starts there. You can't learn about "humanity, if your own identity of color & all it's issues are constantly in the way. It's the same thing with Obama wanting to be "The President of The United States", not the "*Black* President of the United States", regardless of how we label him or what the pundits & historians say about him, what does HE say about HIMSELF? What does that mean, skin color aside? Are there some super black rituals that he must adhere to? Are there certain people in this country he must now denounce or turn a blind eye to now that he's the "Black" President? Does his jurisdiction only have weight in Detroit, Atlanta, Miami, St Louis, L.A. & N.Y.?

    I'm not naive & I am being just a bit silly but that's how silly this argument is. Yeah, we get it, America sees you a certain way. But apparently, so do we. Look at these comments about "needing him to see he's black" or "this is how it is in America". So the fuck what?! He never said he's "not black" like many black folks in America are prone to do-He's not stupid, he gets it. You think it's not happenin' in the UK?

    I agree, colorblind is bullshit. But it seems that colorblind is not the issue, but the idea of Personal Identity is the struggle and how we define ourselves for ourselves. The more we scream "You're Black, You're Black, You're Black!!", it sounds like some sort of cultural loss or insult we experience when someone, ANYONE-much less a rising celebrity, says I want to be "Me" first & "Black" second.

    I believe it was Denzel who said:

    "I'm very proud to be black, but black is not all I am. That's my cultural historical background, my genetic makeup, but it's not all of who I am nor is it the basis from which I answer every question."

  • Orville | September 29, 2011 3:36 AMReply

    Idris Elba needs to get it through his head in America race matters. I get that Idris doesn't want to be put into a box BUT racism exists in Hollywood in a big way. Look at Taraji P Henson and TV Guide magazine. Taraji is an Oscar and Emmy nominated actress YET she did not get the cover for her new TV Show. So I think Idris is in a difficult position he seems to be doing well to a certain extent but I don't see him as a leading man.

    I think the next black leading man will be someone younger.

    Idris is British but even the UK is so racist there are hardly good roles for black British actors overseas so they all come to America. In the United States, Americans focus so much on race. Race is a social construction but still it exists. This is the reason the black leading men are old Denzel is 54 and Will Smith is 43. Idris Elba I believe is 38 he is closing in on 40. I am not sure if he can become a leading man in American cinema and this has to do with race.

  • AccidentalVisitor | September 29, 2011 3:32 AMReply

    Folks here have already made great points. Let me add that it is smart that Idris didn't come to the USA to play "black roles" because 99% of black roles from Hollywood are pure trash. Underwritten, stereotypical, uncomplicated, asexual, underdeveloped, forgettable, etc. That's represents most roles written for blacks. If Idris had half a brain he should want no part of that.

    That being said I'm not sure how much he can escape that in America. Certainly he has taken roles in crappy films like "Daddy's Little Girls" and "Obsessed" that fall directly, IMO, in that "black role" category that he supposedly wants to avoid (yes, the limited "black role" can also be written by black writers and brought to the screen by black directors).

  • CareyCarey | September 29, 2011 3:29 AMReply

    @ saadiyah, coool, now we know. But ask and ye shall receive. What about you? You still have not explained what I didn't understand. And apparently someone else missed the call.

    Your move...

  • saadiyah | September 29, 2011 2:23 AMReply

    Ha! CareyCarey, I guess you misunderstood me. That's OK. I rarely understand you.

  • Neziah | September 28, 2011 11:37 AMReply

    @ CareyCarey

    LOL! Damn, I didn't even notice that comment. Good thing you called him or her out before I did.

  • CareyCarey | September 28, 2011 11:22 AMReply

    "It’s impossible for the number of Blacks in acting to be employed if they only were looked at for Black roles, e.g. drug dealers, ghetto dwellers, maids, etc" - saadiyah on September 28, 2011

    NO NO NO saadiyah, can't let you get away with that one. I don't know your racial makeup, but if that's your vision of a black person, I'd suggest that you take off those blue-eyed contact lenses. Really, why would you say something like that? What, all black folkks and black film are about drug dealers, pimps and hoes?

  • saadiyah | September 28, 2011 11:06 AMReply

    What an excellent discussion! I agree whole-heartedly with Idris. He's smart not want to boxed into "Black" roles. People, especially Black people, have such a narrow view of what it is to be Black. It's impossible for the number of Blacks in acting to be employed if they only were looked at for Black roles, e.g. drug dealers, ghetto dwellers, maids, etc. Like one astute commenter noted "the nigga is black", why does he (or Zoe Saldana) need to play a Black role to prove their Blackness?

  • Kia | September 28, 2011 9:40 AMReply

    I love British actors :)

  • Neziah | September 28, 2011 9:12 AMReply

    "I suspect the next black leading man is someone younger and a lot cuter like Anthony Mackie!"

    You lost me here.

  • Orville | September 28, 2011 9:07 AMReply

    I just can't stand Idris Elba this guy has some delusion he's the next black superstar and he is NOT. Elba is also a hypocrite he starred in Tyler Perry's Daddy Little Girls YET this jerk complained about Perry in the press this year. Idris is OLD and his time has passed. I suspect the next black leading man is someone younger and a lot cuter like Anthony Mackie!

  • CareyCarey | September 28, 2011 8:19 AMReply

    Weeeeeeeeeellllllll.... this is shaping up to be the shortest debate/discussion of the week(for me) b/c I am waving the white flag on this one.

    Although I've done some foolish thangs in my time, momma didn't raise no fool-time -fools. There is no way in hell I can counter the well spoken and wise words of The last commenters. And, they made perfect sense. Damn, y'all came up in here like gangbuster! :-)

    So I bid you all adieu.... until next time.

  • Jug | September 28, 2011 8:13 AMReply

    And I mean silly in general, before somebody's feelin's are hurt :-P

    Let's be real, I don't know about EVERY show in England, but I've been watching a lot more over the last few years (God Bless BBC America) and they've gone a real distance in having minorities in prominent & lead roles. The difference, at least to an American sensibility, is that there doesn't seem to be an "affectation" on them. They are Black just by nature of their skin being dark. Or Indian, Or Pakistani. Here in America, it seems we often need some behavioral "qualifier" of "blackness" on many characters or we don't believe them. That "Cosby/August Wilson" syndrome. It's not everyone's feeling & it's not always a "bad thing" or "bad acting", but a big part of the population feels this way, Black & White, or we wouldn't have this sort of issue. We still have HUGE parts of this country where no "visible" minorities live, let alone Black. Couple that with a constant need, for better or for worse, of minorities to 'set themselves" apart culturally-those kind of schisms thrive & they influence our art, our media. Nothing exists in a vacuum.

    Now, that's the academic part. The real deal part is the money is here in America & the "zeroes" in acting come from PELICAN BRIEF, not THINK LIKE A MAN LMAO

  • Jug | September 28, 2011 7:55 AMReply

    This is such a silly argument. Actors want to Act. Period. They want to play the roles written black, they want to play the roles not written black. What they don't want, is to be limited by those specifics. We're greedy & egotistical like that LOL

    Like Freeman & Mackie & whoever else steps in this "PR trap", their wording often tends to be clunky for a simple & at same time complex statement that goes further than a sound bite. Whether or not the industry (& the world) sees them as only as a "Black" actor & not as an "actor" (see Melissa McCarthy now blowing up & is going to be more than the funny "fat" girl), is not something they can control. His skin color ain't going nowhere. What they can control, is the roles they choose. No one, & I mean, no one, forces you to take a role. YOU choose, regardless of pressures & economics, to take a role. Denzel will forever be a badass in CRIMSON TIDE just like he was in MALCOLM X, and that's what Idris wants. What's the problem with that?

    What if you wanted to buy a car and the salesman says "you can only buy the car Black people buy"....Be a little pissed huh?

  • BondGirl | September 28, 2011 7:51 AMReply

    @Carey:

    I feel like Idris felt this way all along, but nobody cared when he was broke and struggling about what he thought regarding getting colorblind work. In all of our respective careers, we strive to be known for what we do, not who we are. That's all he's saying. I prefer to be the guy instead of the black guy.

    Now as far as the comment about being black James Bond...he can hang that up. I'm a die hard fan of the franchise and I remember quite well that Daniel Craig was called "James Blond" for a long time until he silenced the haters with his performance in Casino Royale. And we're talking only hair color! Idris will have to accept it and be gracious. He will get haters like he's never seen if he even gets the role...though I believe Michael Fassbender is gunning for it too. He will learn very quickly that there's no glory in being a pioneer.

  • T'Challa | September 28, 2011 7:37 AMReply

    I'll listen to the actual interview before taking a stance on his comment. Anyways, Luther is an amazing show, and maybe it's because Britain gives complex, atypical portrayals of Black characters a chance, that he is reluctant to go back to the "Stringer Bell" type roles; (drug dealer, thug, ie. "ghetto")

    Great actor, great role model, look forward to seeing him in future roles.

  • blaqbird | September 28, 2011 7:30 AMReply

    @CareyCarey

    He sounds different than Denzel because he IS different than Denzel. His character "Luther" could have been played by anyone, any person of any background, and I think that's what he's ultimately getting at. If he does end up playing JB, then why can't he be just "James Bond" instead of, "The Black James Bond". Does it really make a difference?

    "Yeah shit on them black roles that got me all my black fans...." Huh????? Where and when did he say this exactly? I'm sure he came to the US to get more exposure as do most British and International actors. Yes, Americans have a tendency to see race before anything else but why is it wrong for me to hope that we as an audience we will see beyond that? And why is it wrong for Elba to hope for the same?

  • CareyCarey | September 28, 2011 6:58 AMReply

    Oh lord, there's a slippery slope up in here. I'm feeling Carlton.... because lets face, as much as Idris doesn't want to play "Black" roles, the nigga is black. Excuse my French but Carlton Jordan's assertion is valid... if Mr. Elba ever plays James Bond, he WILL be (in the term of many folks, black and white) that black-ass James Bond. Come on now, y'all know that's right.

    WTH does he mean by he didn't come here to play black roles? What, his character in The Wire sho WAS NOT white, and that brotha Denzel shot in American Gangster... that cool and slick talkin' dark skinned American, WAS sho nuff a brotha from Harlem. So what is he saying? Maybe he's mimicking Morgan Freeman's line "negros need to get over that shit"? I wonder if that’s what Idris is saying... “I got a little wind beneath my wings, now I can play a fool with a mask on (can’t see his blackness) in movies like Thor”. “Yeah, shit on them “black roles that got me all my black fans”... “I’ve Come To America as did Prince Akeem (Eddie Murphy in Coming To American) and now I want to be Saul (the old white dude Eddie played in Coming To America).

    I don’t know BondGirl & Blaqbird, the comparison is valid. Idris wants to be like Denzel but he “sounds “ quite different.

  • JMac | September 28, 2011 6:17 AMReply

    “I didn’t come to America to play “black roles,” I came to play roles.”

    Then take your butt back to Britain. We don't have Luther type shows here.

  • BondGirl | September 28, 2011 6:04 AMReply

    @blaqbird:

    Well said!

  • blaqbird | September 28, 2011 5:58 AMReply

    His voice is so wonderful to my ears. :)

    @Carlton Jordan

    Why does he need to be compared to Denzel Washington? I'm sure Elba appreciates the roles he gets just as much as Denzel does, but what I don't understand is why he has to publicly state that over and over again like Denzel does. And what does "black actors playing black roles" mean? That's what Elba is trying to get at; he wants to be an actor and play any roles and race doesn't always have to define that. He's said many times that he's grateful for the role of Stringer Bell because that's pretty much where it all began.

    And if he doesn't want to be called the Black James Bond, why can't we respect that? Yes it's the "American" way but let's be honest, the American way is not always right or fair. We as people of color want to be defined by more than our skin color, yet when Elba asks for this, he's somehow asking for too much? Doesn't sound right to me...

  • eshowoman ,Mrs. Idris Elba | September 28, 2011 5:52 AMReply

    Sorry Idris, as much as I want you to father my children, playing a "non-black "role in America is a bigger fantasy than the baby names I already have picked out! The role you have played iin England Luther, Ultraviolet are less "black" than anything you do here. If Luther was a white character there would be a bidding was in the US for the property. Whites in this country will not watch a complex black hero and there are too many brainwashed blacks who would think he was not "black" enough. Seen this season already cannot wait for season 3!

  • Carlton Jordan | September 28, 2011 5:04 AMReply

    Here we go. Black actors playing Black roles when it's convenient but all of a sudden they want to be colorless when they get a little success. I get the point of what he's trying to say, but I've never heard the likes of Denzel sat things like this, he appreciates the 'Black' roles as much as he appreciates the roles that have no definitive color.

    Idris if you play Bond, you will be called the Black James Bond, sad but true. It's the American way get used to it....

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