Idris Elba talks ‘The Losers,’ ‘Thor’ and more
Although as the proper stars of the film, Jeffrey Dean Morgan and Zoe Saldana have enjoyed the lion’s share of the press devoted to The Losers, actor Idris Elba has himself become a noteworthy star in the last few years, and his role is integral to the conflict in director Sylvain White’s adaptation of the comic book series of the same name. Hollywood News recently joined a group of journalists in Los Angeles to speak with Elba and his fellow cast mates about the process of bringing The Losers to life. In addition to talking about taking on the action-packed, irreverent material, Elba briefly described his character in the upcoming adaptation of Thor, and revealed details about a few of his future projects.
[Note: Although “Hollywood News” is used to distinguish questions from answers in the text below, our journalist was just one of many reporters asking questions of the filmmakers.]
Hollywood News: Idris, what made you want to make this film?
Idris Elba: I didn’t have too much information on The Losers. I’d read the script. There was an original version of the script which was about 4 years old. I read that. There were different directors attached to it. When I read it the first time, I wasn’t even aware it was a graphic novel. Then when Sylvain and Joel approached me on it, I did some armwork. I did my research. So, it was very much surface research though. I read some of the novels and on the internet. I didn’t really check it out too much because the script was so full of them. It had lots of information. It was a good read. I just got into it that way.
Hollywood News: Idris, how did you land on crutches? And secondly, if there is a sequel, would you rise from the flames and come back in the next one or are you completely gone for good?
Elba: Actually, the answer about the crutches is one and the same, I think, because of what happened in that airplane. But, as you can see, I’m still standing. I think if there is a sequel, I’d love the opportunity to play and bring Roque back. It has to work for the storyline. Jeffrey and I were talking about this yesterday. I would want to see Roque come back and Clay and Roque unite again. That would be refreshing to me because, you know, it’s obviously …
Jeffrey Dean Morgan: It wouldn’t be an easy reuniting. There’d be some fisticuffs along the way. (Laughs)
Elba: But, we could do a hotel room. There won’t be too much training for Jeffrey. Without too much training, you can get up.
Hollywood News: Idris, how would you compare the emotional connection that you develop with a character like Roque that you played over a matter of months compared to a character like Stringer Bell that you played over a number of years?
Elba: It’s all in the writing or the words. The writers, the creators of The Wire — and rest in peace David Mills by the way who just passed – but the writing – and all my actors here will tell you – offered the actors choices. It is about the choices and the director helps you guide those choices into what the screenplay says. So, what James wants from this, you have choices as an actor to make and the director helps you guide those choices to what James wants. Jeffrey and I had a huge challenge to make our relationship believable so that when we do have that fight at the end, you’re seeing not only two men going at it that are professionals at what they do tactically but two men that have been together as – not Brokeback but – (Laughter)
Morgan: Much to my sadness.
Elba: And his friends and his comrades will die for each other and in that fight. So, it’s all about the words. I was very lucky to have a great scene to work with him in and of course Sylvain to subtly guide me and Jeffrey in that journey.
Hollywood News: How are you going to market a film based on a graphic novel in today’s multi-platform arenas that we now have because it seems like it’s perfect for that?
Elba: The important thing is it’s a great movie that has a feel good factor that takes you back to some of the film’s that we’ve known from the 80s that encompassed action and charismatic characters like the Lethal Weapons and Die Hards. The stunts were larger than life. The characters were larger than life. But also, everyone had a good time. It’s a popcorn film and you enjoy it. So, in terms of marketing, I think we look at the kids. We look at [everybody]. It’s almost like a family movie. It’s like a game in a movie form and everyone can enjoy it.
Hollywood News: Idris, I loved the combination of the action and the comedic timing of your character. You did it so well. How much did you enjoy the journey this character goes through?
Elba: Yeah, you know, I got to beat up Jeff. I was just waiting for my opportunity. It was just a [great] opportunity to play such an interesting arc in a film. I was very blessed. We all played the love of comrades because we all knew what was going to happen in the end. We all subtly layered how do we love Roque, how do we not love Roque, how do we bond together as a team so that when that reveal comes at the end, it’s like it works.
Hollywood News: How is your Roque different from the comic book?
Elba: Roque in the comic book is white and I’m black.
Hollywood News: I didn’t even know that.
Elba: Yeah, I didn’t know either but it didn’t matter. There was no reflection on that in the screenplay but I definitely used Roque in the comic book as my skeleton to build my Roque. So I stayed as true as I could to him. The scar was the only physical attribute that I took from the comic book and applied to myself. Other than that, I just used his personality, his persona in the comic book to make my Roque.
Hollywood News: Is this a recent development that you can make a change like that?
Elba: Yeah, casting now is taking definitely a more open-eyed approach to it. I was cast in Thor and I’m cast as a Nordic god. If you know anything about the Norse, they don’t look like me but there you go. I think that’s a sign of the times for the future. I think we will see multi-level casting. I think we will see that and I think that’s good.
Hollywood News: With Thor do you look at the comic books or Nordic mythology?
Elba: I looked at the comic books actually because Heimdall, he’s a very central character and I wanted to reflect him as he is in the comic books.
Hollywood News: What do you look like in Thor?
Elba: [Laughs] I look like how he’s designed, man. I can’t say but he looks phenomenal.
Hollywood News: Do you get to do any cool action in that?
Elba: Yeah, I do, yeah. I can’t say, brother, but it’s really, really cool.
Hollywood News: Are there new sides of you we haven’t seen yet?
Elba: I think I’m growing as an actor, as an artist. There’s many, many roles that I’m approached by that are definitely different from ones I’ve seen. I have a film that’s at the Tribeca film festival called Legacy. I think that might open up my audience’s eyes to my abilities, to the kind of characters that I can play. It’s a very different role for me and I had a great time playing it. If you get a chance to see Legacy, I think they’re going to show it at the ABFF as well. You guys’ll check me out.
“THE LOSERS” TRAILER