If you take a look at the Idris Elba movie and TV credits, you’ll see that the London-born Black actor has had a career that stretches over two decades. And in that time, he’s made a huge splash in Hollywood all the while becoming one of the industry’s favorite pieces of eye candy. From his timeless roles in films like Daddy’s Little Girls to major blockbusters like The Suicide Squad, let’s have a look at some iconic Idris Elba movies and TV shows over the years:
1. The Wire (2002-2004)
Arguably the UK actor’s most infamous TV show, The Wire, is an HBO Original crime drama series that surveys the narcotics scene in Baltimore, the people affected, the law enforcement that attempts to police it, and the politicians getting in the way. The Wire is widely regarded as one of the best Black TV shows of all-time, and in it, Idris Elba stood out from the ensemble cast as drug kingpin Russell “Stringer” Bell — one of The Wire’s fan-favorite antagonists.
2. Daddy’s Little Girls (2007)
This Tyler Perry classic about a single dad (played by Idris) who fights for the custody of his three daughters won the hearts of many now die-hard Elba fans. If you’re a lover of melodramatic romance films, Idris gives a heartfelt performance in this one that’s a must-watch.
3. This Christmas (2007)
What is the Christmas season without the Whitefield family’s drama? Centered around the family’s first holiday dinner together in years, Elba plays Quentin, the distant eldest son and musician who’s arguably one the key factors in the family’s ability to stay together.
4. Obsessed (2009)
Starring Idris Elba as the husband who’s subjected to the terrors of unrequited love at work and Beyoncé as the wife who comes to defense (by any means necessary), Obsessed is the drama we never knew we needed but are so happy to have.
5. The Office (2009)
While he only appeared in seven episodes, if you watch The Office, a quirky workplace comedy, then you remember Idris Elba shined as Charles Miner, the new and really dry boss. While his reign was short, we won’t forget Charles and his no-nonsense approach, as well as just how Idris was in that role.
6. Thor and The Avengers (2011-2018)
The English actor made his way into the Marvel Cinematic Universe, appearing as Heimdall in all four Thor movies and Avengers: Age of Ultron and Infinity War. In Asgard, the fantasy world where Thor and Loki are from, Heimdall is an all-seeing and all-hearing Asgardian who proves to be one of Thor’s greatest allies to the end.
7. Pacific Rim (2013)
Called Idris Elba’s best sci-fi film, the blockbuster tells a thrilling story of a war between humankind and alien monstrous creatures. Idris Elba delivers an incredible performance as pilot Stacker Pentecost, the movie’s ultimate war hero.
8. Mandela: The Long Walk to Freedom (2013)
What’s more iconic than playing the great Nelson Mandela in a movie? Idris stunned audiences with his inspiring portrayal of the leader and activist who sadly passed away during the film’s London premiere.
9. Beasts of No Nation (2015)
Depending on who you ask, it could be said that Idris Elba’s role as the brutal Commandant in Beasts of No Nation is one of his best ever. The movie centers on the experiences of young Agu, a child soldier fighting in a civil war in Africa.
10. Zootopia (2016)
Zootpia, the animated film set in an animal metropolis about the first bunny to join the police force, was one of those films that people, mainly kids, just couldn’t stop talking about. And in it, Idris Elba plays the voice of gruff chief of the police department, Chief Bogo, who eventually softens to newcomer Judy.
11. The Mountain Between Us (2017)
In this beautifully shot drama, Idris Elba plays Dr. Ben Bass, a neurologist who finds himself stuck in the mountains with Kate Winslet’s character following a plane crash. If you want an Idris Elba performance that will make you cry and rejoice all in one seating, this one’s it.
12. Fast & Furious Present: Hobbs & Shaw (2019)
In the long-running iconic Fast & Furious franchise, Idris Elbra introduces himself as Brixton or the “Black Superman.” His character is a half-man, half-cybernetic super-soldier who commits to his villain role and truly makes this spin-off complete.
13. The Harder They Fall (2021)
I’m sorry, but did someone say, ‘Black cowboys’? If you want to see Idris as crime boss Rufus Buck leading his gang into fist fights, violence, and drama, then The Harder They Fall and its all-star cast won’t disappoint you. Even if you aren’t the biggest fan of westerns, just trust us, this one is worth seeing.
14. The Suicide Squad (2021)
Idris Elba found a way to show off his natural comedic side again with his role as Bloodsport, a minor villain in the DC universe. In the movie, a supervillain flick about a pack of villains sent on a search and destroy mission, Bloodsport is the group’s expert shot with a funny edge.
15. Beast (2022)
Just when you think you can’t see Idris Elba in any more scenarios, he pulls out the stops with an edge-of-your-seat thriller where he plays Dr. Nate Daniels, a father who finds himself being hunted by a massive lion alongside his two teenage daughters. In a movie with a pretty simple storyline, Idris impressed critics with his raw performance.
16. Luther (2010-2023)
Luther is the true embodiment of Idris Elba movies and TV shows, since the long-running series is now a movie. The true British crime drama is always in order when Elba is there to serve us drama, and he’s played such a critical role in this TV series that his performance as Detective John Luther has awarded him multiple honors, such as a Golden Globe for Best Performance and an NAACP Image Award for Outstanding Actor. Thankfully, the series is getting the theatrical treatment as you can watch in theaters and on Netflix right now.
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