Idris Elba on Bond: ‘You always want to be in the mix’

22 Dec 2015 | Author: | No comments yet »

December 16 at 5:23 PM.

Sheldon and Amy spend their first night together on “The Big Bang Theory” (CBS at 8 p.m.). When last we saw DCI John Luther (Idris Elba), he had tossed his signature tweed coat into the Thames and walked off with sociopathic sweetheart Alice Morgan (Ruth Wilson).Rumors that he’s in the running to replace Daniel Craig as the movie spy have been bubbling online for years — reaching a fever pitch last December when hacked Sony emails revealed its interest in casting him.

“If you’re a middle-aged man walking down the street with Idris, it’s an interesting insight into what it must be like to actually be invisible,” laughs Luther creator Neil Cross. “His presence is such that he commands attention without ever meaning to.Idris Elba is so charismatic in the title role of “Luther” that he almost makes up for how nutty and stomach-turningly violent this BBC America cop show is.

Psychopath hunter Luther (BBC1) is back and that means one urgent, insistent question is gripping the nation: will Idris Elba be the next James Bond — the first black 007?After a recent screening of the very compact new “season” of “Luther” (two hourlong episodes, being shown back to back on Thursday on BBC America), a fan’s question knocked Idris Elba off his stride for a moment: “Why are you such a badass?” She wasn’t talking about John Luther, rogue detective, or Stringer Bell, the drug dealer Mr.

Support grew louder this fall when new 007 author Anthony Horowitz suggested that Elba is “too street” to play the character, which the British actor dismissed with a cheeky Instagram post days later. He doesn’t seek it out, which must be exhausting, but he’s a genuinely lovely man.” Ranked one of Essence and People’s sexiest men, Elba embraces his status as a style icon, having just collaborated on a menswear collection with Superdry in the United Kingdom and readily sharing tips for comfortable, all-day garb. And that seemed like a fitting place to leave him, really; especially since Idris Elba had bigger things on his horizon, such as a future of relentlessly denying that he ever wanted to be James Bond. Bob Newhart guest-stars. “The iHeartRadio Jingle Ball 2015” (CW at 8) features performances by The Weeknd, Calvin Harris, Selena Gomez, Demi Lovato, 5 Seconds of Summer and other artists. All the while, journalists have continued dogging Elba about the possibilities, which he spurned by telling the Telegraph, “Enough is enough.” Chatting amiably about Thursday’s return of detective series Luther (BBC America, 9 p.m.

Author Ian Fleming imagined his Cold War spy hero as a chiselled six-footer with slick, inky hair and ice-blue eyes, but that was in 1952: Bond has regenerated like a Time Lord since then. The British heartthrob, 43, prefers to talk about his Emmy-nominated role as an antihero detective in Luther, which returns to BBC America for a two-hour special Thursday (9 p.m. The new run began with John Luther in hibernation, holed up in a bothy on a cliff top having taken a self-enforced leave of absence, but sensibly it soon brought him back to the benighted, rain-sodden London that has always been his natural habitat. And since his wife and best friend have now both been murdered – and the rest of his existence has generally been a miserable whirlwind of shootings, botched suicide attempts and being stabbed through the hand by Ma Larkin – it only seems fitting that our first new glimpse of Luther should take place on a crumbling cliff.

And I’d say a black Bond is closer to Fleming’s saturnine ideal than the blond and soulless Daniel Craig, who looks like a Gestapo extra from ’Allo ’Allo!. The special will also feature performances by Carrie Underwood, Jason Aldean and Little Big Town, and appearances by artists including Luke Bryan, Sam Hunt and Kelsea Ballerini. And what we’d done was end the previous series, [that] was the end of Luther part one, and with this special we’re beginning a whole new chapter in the story of Luther.” And with a whole new chapter comes a whole slew of new faces. Asked about his interest in taking the reins of a franchise such as Bond, or if he would prefer launching new projects, he remains diplomatic. “I’m an actor for hire, so obviously, you always want to be in the mix,” Elba says. “But at the same time, the ambition is to start stuff up for me and others: introduce talent, ideas, stories.

Coincidentally, that show co-stars Dominic West, like Elba a Brit who made his name on “The Wire.”) Luther tries to sort out that mess while also investigating the series’ latest string of gruesome murders — this time by a sick psychopath with a penchant for invading his victims’ privacy before killing them. This is where Luther lives now, in a rundown shack perpetually threatened by coastal erosion. “Pretty close to the edge,” exclaimed a character during last night’s episode, in such an unnecessarily literal moment of symbolic exposition that you briefly wondered if we’d then see Luther skating on thin ice or tripping over a loose cannon or getting called away to investigate some cattle that had been trespassing on a nearby Royal Doulton concession. Elba around, and in the age of the incredible shrinking movie star, he’s the rare performer who sells a production based on his own considerable charisma. Gone is Wilson’s Alice (all Cross will say to that is, “She’ll always be important in the world of Luther”) and in is Rose Leslie’s DS Emma Jones.

A modern-day meld of Sherlock Holmes and Columbo, the gritty drama aired its third and final season stateside in 2013 but was left in limbo as Elba’s film roles (this year’s Oscar contender Beasts of No Nation, Avengers: Age of Ultron and The Gunman) multiplied. “I was a bit like a lovelorn teenager in that I wanted to come back, but (Idris and I) thought the show was over,” Cross says. “It was a bittersweet experience to say goodbye,” but months after it aired “we realized that we missed it and wanted to do more.” Rather than a typical four- to six-episode season, “we wanted to try and redesign the way is absorbed,” Elba says. “It is a TV show, but there’s scope for a film, more specials, another (season). That’s the good news and the bad news about “Luther.” Across four seasons and 16 episodes, the series has been devoted to the proposition that having Mr.

Elba returns to his award-winning role as a self-destructive DCI (that’s detective chief inspector) in the one-night special “Luther” (BBC America at 9). And — unsurprisingly — there’s a new big bad who may just be one of the series’ most terrifying yet. “It’s not a spoiler that he’s a cannibal because people get eaten very quickly in this show,” Cross says. On “Mom” (CBS at 9), Christy and Bonnie are invited to a sober dance and try to be supportive of Regina (Octavia Spencer) when she denies that she’s an alcoholic. The manner in which this killer selects his victims is also particularly chilling. “I think that the idea that your home is not indeed a safe place is pretty much the most terrifying thing there is,” Cross hints of the murderer’s MO. Released in a handful of theaters and on Netflix this fall, the drama was recognized with a surprise nomination for best ensemble cast from the Screen Actors Guild this month, and Elba nabbed supporting-actor SAG and Golden Globe nods.

In “Barbara Walters Presents: The 10 Most Fascinating People of 2015” (ABC at 9:30), the broadcast veteran interviews her picks for the annual list. But does the special — which picks up roughly a year after the events of the season 3 finale — mark a full-scale return for Luther? “I hope the people you meet in this new special will go on to be recurring characters,” Cross says. “I would keep writing Luther until Idris can only walk with some kind of assistance and is a stooped, grey-haired old man. He is widely expected to earn an Oscar nomination for his performance, according to awards pundits at Gold Derby. “It’s floored me, seeing how people reacted to it and how it’s been impactful, especially in raising an awareness for an epidemic that continues to live with us,” Elba says. Last night was peppered with this sort of borderline self-parody; from Dermot Crowley continuing to float around like Marley’s Ghost watching a sad kitten video on YouTube, to the introduction of a ludicrous new mob boss played by Patrick Malahide, who somehow managed to hit the exact sweet spot between Roy Hodgson, Len Goodman and Private Walker from Dad’s Army.

This year’s special includes Amy Schumer, Bradley Cooper, Tracy Morgan, fighter Ronda Rousey, Misty Copeland and Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Although the drama has earned a mere $91,000 at the box office, Netflix revealed that 3 million North American subscribers watched it within two weeks, which Elba considers to be “pretty big” given the specialty film’s challenging subject matter. Except that in the now slightly predictable “they’ll never see this one coming” way Bloom was summarily blown up himself – ka-bloom – marking a sad ending for what had been shaping up in to an excellent performance from Boyd. In 2006, when Craig took over the licence to kill for Casino Royale, producer Barbara Broccoli missed her chance to cast instead another black star, Londoner Colin Salmon.

Next year, Elba will be lightening up considerably, voicing characters in three Disney movies: Zootopia; Jon Favreau’s live-action The Jungle Book; and Finding Dory, a sequel to Pixar’s Finding Nemo. Fans know that Ruth Wilson, now engaged in “The Affair,” has not returned to play Alice, and the character’s absence is a problem — it helps to have someone on screen who’s as smart as Luther but even crazier, against whom he can define his outer limits. President Obama appears on a special episode of “Running Wild With Bear Grylls” (NBC at 10), joining the survivalist for a trek across the Alaskan wilderness and a discussion about climate change. Very quickly Luther was in touching distance of the killer, a disturbed computer nerd played so brilliantly by acclaimed stage actor John Heffernan that I predict he will now struggle for work on account of being too scary to have in an audition room.

And he has the most important quality, one that both Moore and Sir Sean Connery possess, and that Craig woefully lacks — a voice like sundering granite. If you’re good at it and doing good work, that becomes a lot more important.” Elba says he’ll continue producing projects with his company, Green Door, and will eventually direct, citing actor-turned-director Favreau as a “hero” of his. Elba’s voice doesn’t matter so much in Luther, because mostly he is expected only to grunt, growl, stare balefully and stand like a sullen statue on rooftops. A potential new nemesis (Laura Haddock of “DaVinci’s Demons”) and a fledgling partner (Rose Leslie of “Game of Thrones”) are introduced, but they don’t begin to compensate for the lack of Ms. He has also kept a hand in music: He opened shows for Madonna on her European tour this fall under his DJ name, Driis, and just released Murdah Loves John, featuring songs inspired by his Luther character. “I like fighting, so that’s the next thing people might see me (do): just turn into a pro wrestler,” Elba jokes. “No, not a pro wrestler.

The troubling news is the show’s obsession with fetishistic serial killers, who are presented with a detachment that borders on voyeuristic horror — we’re not far from comic-book torture porn. Luther is never better than when Ruth Wilson storms in, elaborately murders someone and then performs a spot-on impression of a Lambrini-blitzed Hannibal Lecter directly into Luther’s ear. Neil Cross, who created “Luther” and writes every episode, is good at orchestrating spectacle and, working primarily with the director Sam Miller, at using visual cues to stir our emotions. At least evil took many forms in equally grim series such as, say, “Prime Suspect.” In the case of “Luther,” all we get are sexually perverted butchers — and they take the show down with them.

Actor Will Mellor was lost in nostalgia as he played with the toys of his childhood in That’s So Last Century (C4). ‘I’d love to have a day with all these,’ he sighed. ‘It takes you right back to when everything was innocent.’ That’s his Christmas sorted, then. The most inspiring moment in the new episodes is probably the simple sight of Luther donning the cinched-waist tweed coat and narrow tie that define his badness as succinctly as Shaft’s wide-lapeled leather coats did his. And unlike those other guys, awards like him: He just landed Golden Globe nominations for “Luther” and for the movie “Beasts of No Nation.” This year also saw turns in two movies that were less critic-friendly but still helped raise his mainstream profile: the Sean Penn action flick “The Gunman” and “Avengers: Age of Ultron.” Elba, 43, is playing the villain in “Star Trek Beyond” (out July 22) and is doing voice work on three animated Disney flicks: he’s a buffalo police chief in “Zootopia” (out March 4), the awesome tiger Shere Khan in “The Jungle Book” (April 15) and, well, probably some aquatic creature in the “Nemo” sequel, “Finding Dory” (June 17). No one who saw the scene in the last series in which a murderer emerged from under his sleeping victim’s bed, for example, will ever sleep well again without poking a broom handle under the valence. But there’s a psychopath on the loose, nailing victims to the furniture and eating their hearts, while living in a blood-drenched apartment decorated with collages of Polaroids.

He just released an album of “Luther”-themed songs titled “Murdah Loves John,” and has long performed under the stage name Driis — even opening the Berlin date of Madonna’s latest tour with a DJ set. Indeed, the grisliness and psychosis are a little behind the curve, with “Hannibal” gone and the focus of crime drama, like every other television genre, shifting toward character study.

That’s all well and good in an action movie, and Elba’s frame-filling physical presence can play that role, but he’s just as good doing the psychological stuff, and some slower scenes, a little mood music, would have been welcome. This, in particular, was an incredible moment of peak stupidity; one that provided enough momentum to allow Luther to return to what he does best, which usually involves walking through sex dens in slow motion and massively overusing peoples’ names in conversation. Elba, as Luther, is still gratifyingly larger than life, knitting his brow to stare down lesser humans and meeting every challenge with a weary shrug of his endless shoulders.

In the rush to become a movie there were times when it also lapsed in to movie cliché – the escape and chase down the ventilation shaft; the staring at the bad guy you’re unable to reach on the other side of the train tracks – which again was surprising in a series that at other times has been reliably non-conformist in its imagery and plotting. We’ve waited two years for more Luther, and we’re only getting a two-part special this time, so the pedal should have been welded firmly to the metal right from the outset. Perhaps this was the deliberately slow, world-building half of the story, and next week’s conclusion will be a greatest hits joyride of superhero swagger and horror-movie tension. And Patrick Malahide was excellent as the gangland boss who appeared to have wandered in from The Sweeney and stole all his scenes with the ruthlessness of a professional bank robber.

When you have a character as good as John Luther, and an actor playing him who basically is that man, it would be nice to spend a little more time in his company. Anyone who felt they might need help recognising a crazed psychotic fiend could tune to Meet The Psychopaths (C5) for a 20-point checklist of giveaway traits. Luther’s new partner, played by Game of Thrones’s Rose Leslie, has the promise to be at least the equal of Warren Brown’s DS Ripley, even if it might be expecting too much for her to yell “You know nothing John Luther!” during a climactic moment.

In case we couldn’t tell the difference between a maiden aunt and a mass murderer, this documentary had some helpful examples: ‘Few would doubt Hitler was a psychopath,’ explained the voiceover.

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