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What Is Idris Elba Doing With These Guys? (Esquire's Next-Gen Hollywood Stars List)

by Sergio
August 9, 2012 8:01 PM
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The September issue of Esquire magazine's cover story is about the next generation of Hollywood actors headed for stardom, in which they list Idris Elba among them.

All well and good, except, along with Elba, Esquire thinks that list also includes actors such as Taylor Kitsch. TAYLOR KITSCH? You mean "John Carter" Taylor Kitsch? You mean "Battleship" Taylor Kitsch? This guy is destined for stardom? If he's lucky his next appearance will be on Dancing with the Stars.

So who else does Esquire thinks is destined for Hollywood super stardom? Aaron Paul. WHO? Garret Hedlund. Garrett Saywhat?

There's also Armie Hammer. That guy has about as much personality and charisma as an unsalted butter sandwich. There's also Aaron Johnson. O K. I know him. He was in Kick Ass, athough the girl stole the film right from under him. 

What I'm getting at here is that, none of these guys are in Elba's league. He's got the presence, the charisma and that "star" quality that none of these other guys have.

Aside from that, he's also much older than any of them. It's like a grown up playing with 8 year old kids. Most of them look like they haven't begun shaving yet. Elba should have had a cover story just on him alone.

The magazine has even released a video showcasing their picks aimed for stardom. Even in the video, they fade into the wallpaper. Tell me if I'm wrong.

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  • LydiaJ | August 13, 2012 3:34 PMReply

    I think what bothers me about Idris being included in this group is the fact that this is a list he should have been included on during his Stringer Bell days. Or at least right after. I mean Idris has been acting for what, 20 years now? I wouldn't call him "next gen". Unless they've changed the definition of next generation. I guess he is "on the verge". But he's been "on the verge" for a minute. Maybe this Mandela movie will be what finally pushes him into mainstream superstardom. If they(Esquire) HAD to include a person of color...well...I can't even think of anyone. SMH

  • Donella | August 13, 2012 2:42 PMReply

    Garrett Hedlund has been the weakest link in every movie I've seen him in--4 Brothers, Troy, Tron, and other roles I've probably forgetten two minutes after watching. This means he'll soon "co-star" with Denzel (being dragged around from scene to scene with loud music and quick shots).

  • Jeremy | August 12, 2012 11:54 PMReply

    Hammer isnt bad. Aaron Paul is ill in Breaking Bad other so i'm sold on him. and Johnson doesnt suck. but point made, Idris owns all of them.

  • MB | August 12, 2012 11:03 AMReply

    I think they all show promise; people shouldn't say they don't unless they've seen enough of their work to judge fairly. They were all chosen for this Esquire piece for a reason - their acting work stood out (plus they are attractive, obviously)! Only time will tell who has staying power. I'm just glad that they chose this group of actors, rather than the usual, over-rated Hollywood tabloid regulars.

  • iamnotmad | August 11, 2012 5:33 AMReply

    Whilst most of them are questionable (definitely not Idris Elba), Garrett Hedlund isn 't a bad choice. He's done a variety of movies and definitely shows a lot more promise than the others mentioned. Fans of Idris should try to catch his British show 'Luther' - he's amazing in it.

  • Patrice | August 10, 2012 6:04 PMReply

    Aaron Paul is brilliant in Breaking bad though!

  • Muse | August 10, 2012 5:45 PMReply

    The only Black film actor in the GWMA Brigade's age range I could think of is Anthony Mackie, and he's been "up and coming" for a while now. HE'S the one who's one great film away from household name status. Michael B. Jordan, Daniel Kaluuya (LOVE this young man's work!), and Nelsan Ellis are all primarily TV actors. I think they are phenomenally talented and I would love to see all of them as film leads. As for Elba, I see him as currently having "cult fame" status (which is different from "black famous" given the popularity of Stringer Bell among a large subset of black AND white fans), rather than "mainstream" fame - AKA a black Brad Pitt, the next Denzel/Will Smith, that sense I can see him being pegged as "up and coming" on a different scale than the other actors being profiled.

  • Orville | August 10, 2012 5:33 PMReply

    But Idris Elba stands out and just because he's black but because he's old and unattractive. Tristan Wilds and Corbin Bleu should be household names right now they are stars of two successful teen television shows. Tristan and Corbin are gorgeous and young while Idris is old and established in Hollywood. This Esquire issue also points out painfully the paucity of young black male talent given the opportunity to rise to the top. I can't believe Elba took this when he knows he's not young. Shame on Esquire for promoting this guy Elba!

  • Akimbo | August 10, 2012 9:13 PM

    Corbin's on Broadway because he isn't helming movies/tv shows. He's doing what he can to stay relevant. That's admirable, but don't let it fool you; plenty of other actors do stints on Broadway and still manage to do TV and film.

  • Erica | August 10, 2012 7:33 PM

    Corbin isn't helming movies because hes been on Broadway. He was Usnavi (the lead) in "In The Heights" and most recently hes playing Jesus in Godsspell.

  • Akimbo | August 10, 2012 6:18 PM

    I can't speak on Tristan because I don't watch 90210, but Corbin is the worst and neither guy is helming movies or winning big awards, so...they wouldn't fit in the group.

  • Orville | August 10, 2012 5:56 PM

    @Boomslang we are going to agree to disagree. Tristan and Corbin are in their twenties both guys were on hit television shows and movies. Idris Elba is basically ancient the guy is almost forty years old. Elba is too old to be considered a young up and comer in Hollywood. This old black guy is stealing the spotlight which should be given to someone younger, and more attractive. Tristan and Corbin both should have gotten the opportunity to be included. Or at least someone like else that's young, black, and hot and under age thirty five.

  • Boomslang | August 10, 2012 5:51 PM


    Um.. Trystan and Corbin are just as dull as lettuce salad. No persona , no charisma no nothing .They are not masculine enough for Esquire and their acting skills are lack lustre.

  • Muse | August 10, 2012 5:28 PMReply

    Meh. The only actors I care about in that montage are Elba and Aaron Paul. The rest might as well be called the Generic White Male Actor Brigade. Also, it's hilarious how Elba and Paul have filmographies 62 and 52 titles deep (according to IMDB), but they're "up and coming." (That may very well be the case with the other guys too, but I don't care to look them up.) I guess that saying about how takes over 10 years to be an "overnight success" (according to Hollywood) forms the basis for this article.

  • Orville | August 10, 2012 5:21 PMReply

    This Esquire issue seems bizarre, the young white men in this issue are young yet old guy Idris Elba stands out. I think it is kind of sad Idris Elba was included he's almost forty years old hardly young by Hollywood standards. Second, Idris isn't new he's been around for a long time. I wish Esquire had found a younger more attractive black male such as Tristan Wilds to be on the cover or Corbin Bleu. It is really sad that the young beautiful black men are being ignored while old farts like Idris Elba get so much attention.

  • sergio | August 11, 2012 12:39 AM

    You must be 13 since you always say that 40 is OLD. Do you check in the mirror every day for grey hair and winkles? Well if 40 is OLD in your eyes then I'm Methuselah. If you keep your nose clean and stay out of trouble then pretty soon, before you know it, you'll be 40 too (it'll happen a lot faster than you think) and let's see if then you'll consider yourself yourself old and all washed up. Until then you're just going to have to put up with old geezers ready for a nursing home like Idris and me

  • MB | August 10, 2012 4:40 PMReply

    All of these actors have their own unique talent. I also think that Idris Elba is a great actor based on what I've seen from him.
    To say that Idris Elba shouldn't be on this cover with "these guys" because he is older, more accomplished and has more experience, is likely correct. I would agree with this statement.
    However, to say that Idris shouldn't be on this cover because he is "head and shoulders above all of them talent-wise" and has the star "quality" that they don't possess, sounds uninformed. Why? Two reasons:
    First, possessing great talent and star "quality" doesn't necessarily have anything to do with how long you've been in the business. Secondly, because I can bet that the majority of people making this claim likely haven't seen enough of the quality work that these other actors have released throughout their young careers, and the talent they possess (namely Aaron Paul and Aaron Johnson, from my personal viewpoint). I haven't even seen enough of their work to make any fair comparisons, and I watch a lot of movies.
    Yes, the collection of actors they chose for this piece may seem a bit odd, but they all possess a talent. I won't debate Taylor Kitsch, because I've only seen one of his movies and it wouldn't be fair to do so.

  • Dyggo | August 10, 2012 12:43 PMReply

    You make sounds like all this white guys are untalented losers and Idris Elba is the only one making his way to becoming a big star, Idris is in Prometheus, but I don't even know it untill now, just saw people talking about Michael Fassbender, and I really can't associate his name to anything, he was the only "black god" in Thor that works as a doorman too, no?

  • Allison | August 10, 2012 11:29 AMReply

    I think they shouldn't of put Aaron Paul or Idris in this article. Both are way beyond that. So at the very least, he has good company on the cover.

  • Phoebe | August 10, 2012 11:11 AMReply

    How do you not know who Aaron Paul is? He's won an Emmy for being on one of the best TVs of the past decade, "Breaking Bad." You lose all credibility with this article for not know who he is.

  • WOW | August 10, 2012 11:41 AM

    Slow down Phoebe. Many people are not interested in watching a series centered on a struggling high school chemistry teacher who turns to a life of crime, producing and selling methamphetamine with a former student, (Aaron Paul). So... so what... he won one Emmy in the show's 4 year run? Can you name every actor who has won an Emmy in the last 4 years, let alone watch all their performances? Please, Aaron Paul might as well be RouxPaul Andre Charles for many. Btw, have you seen his show (RuPaul's Drag Race )? Did you know it was nominated in the "Best Reality Series, Competition" category of the Critics' Choice Television Awards? Geez... credibility issues?

  • sergio | August 10, 2012 11:17 AM

    I see all the Aaron Paul trolls who spend their entire lives searching for him on the internet coming out.

  • Clare | August 10, 2012 7:00 AMReply

    Aaron Paul is sensational in Breaking Bad. Have you bothered to give it your '3 episode' viewing? I guaruntee you will be watching all seasons, and there will be no 'say what!' next to his name again.
    As for Idris, I'm glad he is on the cover as Carlton Jordan said, he is taking one for the team, and for us Brits! So in that case, I salute you Idris!!!

  • Stacie | August 10, 2012 5:19 AMReply

    Is Idris really cross over famous yet? I know he's become pretty Black Famous which is what I call people who are famous only within the Black community. He may be more well known in England but is he a cross over star here yet? I don't know about that. He is a "recognizable face" but I don't know if the general American public knows him by name just yet. My mother barely knows who he is, I have to tell her that he's the guy in Luther. Then she knows him and thats only cause she watches every murder mystery show that comes on PBS and the BBC.

  • Robin | August 10, 2012 11:23 AM

    Fame is a tricky thing. If you mean Hollywood famous, which is the spread, then none of them really are. If you mean white household recognizing him, sorry but Stringer Bell is definitely a household name among certain types of white households (definitely before the guy from Luther). And he had a role in Prometheus and a role that was reserved for Tom Cruise in Guillermo Del Toro's new film. That seems like a fairly well defined rising Hollywood star in my book, not just Black Famous.

    I will concur that Aaron Paul doesn't deserve a who the fuck is this, like the rest of the young white dudes do. For TV people, he's not Idris Elba level, but he's at least defined by an excellent performance in an excellent show, like Idris Elba was when the Wire was his main recognizable role.

  • CareyCarey | August 10, 2012 10:35 AM

    OPPs... Esquire magazine's cover story... not "Essence".

  • CareyCarey | August 10, 2012 10:32 AM

    GOOD POINT, Stacie! Over the last year -- here at Shadow & Act -- I've repeatedly said that Idris is a "black" commodity, but not an overall American household name. I've taken pushback for that opinion, but the truth is he has not had the exposure -- here in America -- that would enable the vast majority of white folks to instantly place his face with his name. Think about that. Just like Sergio suggested in this post, there are white guys in the essence article who many black folks could care less about and couldn't differentiate them from their garbage man, but yet, for various reasons, other people -- even SOME blacks -- know who they are, BUT THEY ARE NOT instantly recognizable names. Heck, let me repeat Sergio's words. Who the hell is Taylor Kitsch, Aaron Paul, Armie Hammer, and who watched Kick Ass? Let's look at it another way. Did we, the public, see Idris's face in Thor? Nope. What percentage of Americans watch(ed) Luther? What percentage of Americans watched The Wire and consequently Idris's name would be the first thang they mentioned about that show? I am suggesting that Idris may be the twinkle in many black women's eyes, but in the larger theme of things, he's a small fish on the general american public radar. "I know he's become pretty Black Famous which is what I call people who are famous only within the Black community" Yep, you said that right.

  • Clare | August 10, 2012 7:04 AM

    Golden Globe winner! That is more than 'cross over' if you ask me.

  • noel | August 10, 2012 4:59 AMReply

    Elba is a smart man. Anyone who knows him should know that too. It doesn't matter who they place on same scale with him at the moment, head high up against the odds is the way to go. Best of luck to him.

  • CarltonJordan | August 10, 2012 11:15 AM

    Thank you Clare. Golden Globe pretty much makes you crossover. Idris has been featured in many of these "crossover" magazines and not only is he crossover but he is also international. White people WORSHIPPED the WIRE, so yeah.

  • Saviaj | August 10, 2012 4:18 AMReply

    I'm actually familiar with every single one of these people's work, and while I do think Taylor Kitsch is questionable (read: will never live up to FNL's fame) I think the other people are all talented in their own right. But Idris is definitely old enough to be at least Aaron Johnson's cougar loving black stepdaddy. It's like Esquire is saying, look at all these hot young white boys on the rise, and some old black dude who's maybe finally getting it in too. That's my gripe. That he's been acting in successful vehicles as long as they've been alive (or at least since they were in grammar school) and Esquire thinks they belong in the same category. How are you a 45 year old star on the rise? Gripe #2 is that they didn't deem a black actor of the age range of the other actors (22-30?) as on the rise and/or someone to watch out for. Sadness. But the flip side to that coin is there really aren't any black actors in that age range that would be given a shot to star (read: carry the weight of the film) of a motion picture. Sadness. Grip #3 the author pretending (I surely hope so) not to know who these other actors are. How are you a journalist writing in this medium about this topic and not know who these people are. These are not obscure actors. You saw Kick Ass, but you haven't seen Tron: Legacy! [ok, so I love Tron: Legacy in all of its bad glory]. Country Strong stay on son, and once On the Road comes out, it's curtains. You haven't seen Breaking Bad? Pishaw. Don't play. You've seen Breaking Bad with Giancarlo Esposito giving you badass Los Pollos Hermanos. Don't. play.

  • Robin | August 10, 2012 11:26 AM

    Right on, Saviaj.

  • CarltonJordan | August 10, 2012 11:16 AM

    Yes, the author is playing games. Or needs to work in a new industry.

  • BluTopaz | August 10, 2012 9:06 AM

    Saviaj; WORD to your last sentence. Also the Salud episode gave all of the main actors on that show time to shine, and Aaron Paul kicked ass in his 'don't mess with me bitches' way. His character's story arc has been fantastic, and I would watch him lead a good flick. As much as I looooove Idris , Luther bores the hell out of me for some reason.

  • mstradford | August 10, 2012 1:59 AMReply

    I'm glad to see the brother on the cover of a national magazine. Hollywood is usually late to the party, and we are often overlooked. At least it wasn't a Vanity Fair play, where people of color for the Hollywood issue are usually inside the fold out cover. Fortunately his talent doesn't depend on what a magazine does or doesn't say, so I think he'll be fine. He's got a huge movie coming out next year (Pacific Rim), another season of Luther on tap and the starring role as Nelson Mandela. I think his upcoming solo cover ops are just around the corner.
    (As an aside, methinks you haven't check out much 'Breaking Bad', because Aaron Paul does his thing. It's worth a look for sure.)

  • B | August 10, 2012 1:18 AMReply

    Okay, Idris (*fawns*) is well past "next-gen." Dude is a star, and as one person said, he's just one role away from "superstardom." Btw: Armie Hammer is so fucking hot (fell in love with him in the facebook film) and usually teutonic all-american blondes don't do anything for me. But his voice is simply beautiful, and I was stunned at how well he played the set of twins in Social Network. Who's the one dark-haired British guy? He looks interesting but seems terribly pretentious. And, um, all these white dudes? Typical hollywood color prejudice: clearly, only white actors exist in hollywood and everyone else is an unknown. For instance, no Michael Ealy (I mean, if we're gonna say Idris is the next-gen, then Ealy certainly deserves to be in this roundup). Smh.

  • ALM | August 10, 2012 1:53 PM

    @B: Yep, either Ealy or Anthony Mackie would have been a better choice for "up and coming".

  • Miles Ellison | August 9, 2012 10:56 PMReply

    I will echo the comments about Aaron Paul. Breaking Bad is one of the best shows on television right now, and he's no small part of that. However, Idris Elba was in The Wire, one of the best television shows ever made, and he was no small part of that. Elba is head and shoulders above these people. Especially Taylor Kitsch. He's talentless.

  • ALM | August 9, 2012 10:55 PMReply

    Yep, Idris has been famous and has paid dues for a lot longer than these other guys. Remember this is Hollywood we are talking about. In their minds, Idris hasn't made it until "they" say he's made it, no matter how many movies he has starred in.

  • Taylor Jones | August 9, 2012 10:21 PMReply

    you're mostly right but... Aaron Paul is awesome on Breaking Bad. and armie hammer is very talented. but idris is head and shoulders above nearly all of them.

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  • Nicole | August 9, 2012 8:45 PMReply

    I agree that Idris is just one role/movie away from superstardom but "next gen"? No. Like Akimbo said, Idris' has been around for years. And he's a far superior actor than the rest of those guys put together. I think it's an insult that he was even included with them. They are not on his level. Period.

  • Carlton Jordan | August 9, 2012 8:43 PMReply

    Your article is coming from the wrong perspective. It's not the fact that Idris is alongside these rising stars (if you dont know who Aaron Paul is by now, then you need to get your head out your Blackness for a moment.) These actors could be considered the next gen by most standards, it's just insulting that with someone that has as much star power as Idris Elba, he should NOT be among these actors. He's a damn accomplished actor at this point! If anything they should have another young Black actor in there...or a sista. But I don't know many Black actors that would turn down a chance to be featured in Esquire. You can tell by Idris's smile he was taking one for the team. Anyway....the question you shouldve asked at the end of this article is which Black actors should've been featured in this article instead of Idris. My vote would be my fav Michael B. Jordan, Nelson Ellis, David Oyelowo, and maybe Michael K. Williams

  • CareyCarey | August 10, 2012 3:34 PM

    C'mon now Carlton, play fair. Certainly you know that Sergio was being somewhat facetious in his post (Tis what the man do... you know that) so those who question his "knowledge" need to park it. More importantly and to the point of the magazine's issue, Idris IS NOT a HOLLYWOOD "Star" (yet) by no stretch of imagination. So the aritcle is valid. I mean, didn't this post open with "next generation of Hollywood actors HEADED for stardom". Exactly! Edris has been in how many movies? How many TV series has he been in? He's already a STAR... by whose standard? Hell, who goes out to feature old(er) looking Idris as the star of their movie? Oh, that's right, he did in his own sorry movie. Yeah, CodeBlack picked that up while they gathered other hits like Mamma I Wanna Sing and "Preach Pastor Preach". You know, those movies that have the rest of the up and coming stars of the *coughchitlincoughcircuit* :-)

  • sergio | August 9, 2012 9:09 PM

    God forbid that I should ever get my head "out of blackness". Why that would be the end of me.

  • Naomi | August 9, 2012 8:42 PMReply

    I get what you're saying and to an extent I agree, but Aaron Paul is an amazing actor he is on the show breaking bad. He's won an emmy or two for his performance, which is gritty and amazing. The show ends this season and I hope that he goes on to do amazing work. The others on the list....I can't really argue for them.

  • Akimbo | August 9, 2012 8:35 PMReply

    Idris shouldn't be in this crew because he's been kicking around far too long to be considered "on the verge;" same for Garret Hedlund. For better or worse, they are both "here." Taylor Kitsch won't be here much longer and the remaining guys, all of whom I like just fine, are the ones I'd consider "the next" anything.

  • Storm | August 9, 2012 8:10 PMReply

    For once, I agree with you, but you might want to correct the punctuation mistakes in your article.

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