Idris Elba is a name that resonates with charisma, talent and versatility in the world of entertainment. With a career spanning over two decades, Elba has garnered a massive fan following and critical acclaim for his work in both movies and television shows. He is a true embodiment of talent and determination, and his performances have left an indelible mark on the industry. Plus, he is a huge heartthrob that audiences cannot get enough of.
Elba has an impressive filmography of tens of movies and TV shows. Take a closer look at some of his most notable movies and TV shows throughout his wide-ranging career, complete with their Rotten Tomatoes and IMDb rankings.
The Dark Tower (2017)
Rotten Tomatoes: 15%
In the 2017 film adaptation of Stephen King’s The Dark Tower, Elba plays the character Roland Deschain, also known as the Gunslinger. Roland is the last of a group of noble warriors known as Gunslingers, who are tasked with protecting the Dark Tower, a mystical structure that holds the multiverse together. Elba’s portrayal of Roland is a central figure in the movie, as he embarks on a quest to stop the evil sorcerer Walter Padick, played by Matthew McConaughey, from destroying the Dark Tower and unleashing chaos upon the multiverse.
Elba’s performance is praised for capturing the stoic and determined nature of the Gunslinger character, despite the film receiving mixed reviews from both critics and audiences.
Beasts of No Nation (2015)
Rotten Tomatoes: 92%
In the 2015 film Beasts of No Nation, Elba plays the character Commandant. Commandant is a ruthless and charismatic warlord who leads a group of child soldiers in a West African country torn apart by civil war. He recruits and manipulates young boys, including the film’s protagonist Agu, into becoming child soldiers, indoctrinating them into a life of violence and brutality. Elba’s portrayal of Commandant is both compelling and chilling, earning critical acclaim for his performance. The film explores the harrowing experiences of child soldiers and the moral complexities of survival and loyalty in a war-torn landscape.
Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom (2013)
Rotten Tomatoes: 59%
In the 2013 biographical film Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom, Elba portrays Nelson Mandela, the iconic South African anti-apartheid revolutionary and political leader. Elba’s performance is a powerful depiction of Mandela’s life journey, from his early activism against apartheid to his imprisonment for 27 years and his eventual release to become the first democratically elected President of South Africa. The film showcases Mandela’s unwavering dedication to justice, equality and reconciliation in the face of immense adversity. Elba’s portrayal of Mandela received critical acclaim, and the film offers a moving and inspiring look at the life of one of the 20th century’s most influential figures.
Thor: Ragnarok (2017)
Rotten Tomatoes: 93%
Idris Elba reprises his role as Heimdall in the 2017 Marvel film Thor: Ragnarok. Heimdall is the all-seeing and vigilant Asgardian sentry who guards the Bifrost Bridge, which connects Asgard to other realms. In this installment of the Thor franchise, Heimdall plays a significant role in aiding Thor and other characters in their efforts to stop the impending destruction of Asgard caused by the powerful villain Hela, played by Cate Blanchett. Marvel is a name familiar to millions around the world and therefore a huge role noting Elba’s success.
Rotten Tomatoes: 19%
In the 2009 thriller film Obsessed, Elba plays the character Derek Charles. Derek is a successful asset manager with a seemingly perfect life, including a loving wife, notoriously played by Beyonce, and a beautiful family. However, his life takes a dark turn when a temp worker named Lisa, played by Ali Larter, becomes dangerously obsessed with him. Derek finds himself trapped in a terrifying situation as Lisa’s obsession escalates, jeopardizing his marriage and his career. Elba’s portrayal of Derek showcases his character’s struggle to protect his family and maintain his sanity in the face of a relentless stalker, making for a tense and suspenseful film.
The Wire (2002-2008)
Rotten Tomatoes: 94%
In the critically acclaimed TV series The Wire, which aired from 2002 to 2008, Elba played the character Russell “Stringer” Bell. Stringer Bell is a complex and multifaceted character who is both a drug lord and a business-minded strategist in the Baltimore drug trade. He is a key figure in the Barksdale Organization, a powerful drug-dealing crew.
Elba’s portrayal of Stringer Bell in The Wire is widely praised for its depth and complexity. The show itself is celebrated for its realistic portrayal of urban life and the interplay between various social and institutional forces in Baltimore.
Rotten Tomatoes: 88%
Description: Elba stars as the brilliant but tormented detective John Luther, solving complex cases in this gripping British crime drama. Luther is a brilliant but deeply flawed detective working for the Serious Crime Unit in London. He is known for his unorthodox methods, a relentless dedication to solving cases, and a strong moral code that sometimes pushes him to the edge of the law. Throughout the series, Luther takes on a variety of challenging and disturbing cases, often involving serial killers and other violent criminals. He also grapples with personal demons and inner turmoil, which are exacerbated by his complex relationships with colleagues, friends, and criminals alike. His ongoing psychological struggles and his ability to understand the minds of criminals make him a compelling and complex character. The length of the series is a testament to Elba’s successful performance.
The Office (US) (2009)
Rotten Tomatoes: 81%
In a memorable guest appearance, Elba plays Charles Miner, the new boss at Dunder Mifflin’s Scranton branch, adding a unique dynamic to the beloved sitcom. This role is considered an iconic cameo as The Office is one of the most successful tv series with an adoring audience.
Turn Up Charlie (2019)
Rotten Tomatoes: 42%
In the Netflix comedy series Turn Up Charlie, Elba plays the role of Charlie Ayo, a struggling DJ and bachelor who once had a promising career but has since fallen on hard times. Charlie is given a chance at redemption when he becomes the nanny for his famous best friend’s wild and precocious daughter, Gabby. The series follows Charlie’s journey as he navigates the challenges of caring for a young girl while attempting to resurrect his DJ career. His character is often out of his depth when it comes to parenting but learns valuable life lessons along the way.
Turn Up Charlie combines elements of comedy and drama and showcases Elba’s versatility as an actor, as he takes on a lighthearted and comedic role quite different from many of his other more dramatic roles.
The Big C (2010-2013)
Rotten Tomatoes: 83%
Idris Elba had a recurring role in the TV series The Big C, which aired from 2010 to 2013. He played the character Lenny, who is a love interest and a potential romantic partner for the show’s protagonist, Cathy, portrayed by Laura Linney. Lenny is a painter and a passionate, free-spirited personality who enters Cathy’s life during her battle with cancer. He offers her a new perspective on life, love and the pursuit of happiness. Their relationship adds depth and complexity to Cathy’s journey as she grapples with her illness. Elba’s portrayal of Lenny in The Big C showcases his ability to bring charm and charisma, two things that come to mind when many hear his name, to his characters.
Idris Elba’s career is a testament to his incredible talent and range as an actor. Whether he’s playing a complex character in a gritty crime drama or donning the armor of a superhero, he consistently delivers captivating performances that leave audiences in awe. While some of his projects have received mixed critical reception, his dedication to his craft and ability to bring depth to his characters are undeniable. As he continues to take on new challenges and push boundaries in his career, fans eagerly await the next chapter for Elba, one of the most successful and beloved Black actors in the entertainment industry.