Idra Elba’s Best Movies and TV Shows

Over the years, Idra Elba has become both a powerhouse hero and a spine-chilling villain. His dominating persona paired with a meaningful emotional range makes him a beloved A-list star. Even his voice by itself is enough to draw crowds into animated movies like Zootopia, The Jungle Book, and Sonic the Hedgehog 2. Like much of the cast on The Wire, Elba’s career was kickstarted by the great HBO show, and has only gotten bigger and bigger ever since. Whether he is the leading man or a supporting character, Elba’s presence in a project brings richness and depth to any film or television series. Here are some of Idra Elba’s best movies and TV shows.


9 Hobbs and Shaw

This spin off of the Fast and Furious franchise lives up to the expectations set forth by the other movies. We love Hobbs and Shaw for the cars and the intense action sequences, but not so much for the film’s plot. Although, on second thought, there are a handful of heartwarming story moments about family, something the Fast and Furious franchise has always been intentional about. Elba plays a tough supervillain, complete with super-human strength and an army of evil minions. He is the perfect actor to give Jason Stratham and Dwayne Johnson a run for their money.

8 Pacific Rim

The jaw-dropping special effects and large scale action scenes make Pacific Rim a fun watch, even though audiences may need to turn a blind eye to some of the story’s plot holes to enjoy the experience. As monsters from under Earth’s crust start wreaking havoc on the planet, scientists assemble giant robots to fight back and save humanity. In this film, Elba plays Stacker Pentecost, the world’s tough and unbreakable military leader. He isn’t the main character, but he has a profound impact in shaping the events of the film, and brings his typical dedication to character and authoritative presence.

7 American Gangster

Elba’s role in American Gangster is very small, but still irreplaceable for what it adds to the character development throughout the film. Police officer Richie Roberts (Russel Crowe) attempts to hunt down the notorious drug dealer Frank Lucas, (a great Denzel Washington performance), “the most dangerous man walking the streets.” Based on a true story, this heavyweight battle of wits is full of surprising twists and turns that keep audiences on the edge of their seats. Elba plays a drug dealer, Tango, who tries and fails to alter his deal with Frank, and shows how ruthless our main character can be. Last year we learned that Elba thought he had actually been shot while preforming his scene. Thankfully Elba was fine and well enough to continue his career and provide us with more of his movies.

6 Beasts of No Nation

Something about Elba’s powerful persona makes him the perfect villain, and this film is no exception. In Beasts of No Nation, Elba plays the commandant, a warlord during a civil war in Africa. The commandant takes in Agu, a young orphan, and trains the boy in the harshest and darkest practices of guerilla warfare. Elba is so good at being so bad, that at times It’s hard to watch. The film doesn’t hold back on depicting the tragedies of war, and Elba makes the commandant easy to hate.

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5 Molly’s Game

Molly’s Game allows us to see the softer and more intelligent side of Elba’s acting resume. In this film based on a true story, Elba plays a lawyer who agrees to defend a woman who ran a very successful and illegal poker game (Jessica Chastain). It takes a strong actor to play opposite of Chastain, and Elba rises to the task. Elba matches Chastain’s elegance and sleight of hand to make for a smooth crime story.

4 Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom

Elba embodies the real life hero, Nelson Mandela, in this film based on the biography of the same name. In Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom, Elba shows the breadth of emotions that he is capable of displaying. He shows the anger that comes with injustice, the sorrow that comes with loss, and the wisdom that comes with age. The immersive experiences that the actors and filmmakers create is only made more powerful by the real events that inspired the story.

3 Star Trek Beyond

Even through layers of makeup and prosthetics, we can recognize Elba as a formidable foe. Elba plays the lizard-like Krall, a dictator that attacks the USS Enterprise. He seeks to take the crew’s lives and an important relic from their ship. Star Trek Beyond received overall positive reviews, but has been the last movie from the Star Trek franchise. Given its all-star cast, fast-paced plot, and high stakes adventure, it remains a fun watch for any sci-fi fan.

Related: The Best British Television of the 2010s

2 Luther

Elba combines his methodical brilliance and villainous persona in the British series Luther, which follows his titular British policeman working to solve murder cases. Elba nails both the intelligence of the character and the violent emotions Luther posses. Luther comes off as equally likable and terrifying as we watch him struggle with dark challenges unique to his environment. Aside from Elba’s awards-winning performance, audiences love Luther for its five seasons of puzzling mysteries and exploration of dark themes.

1 Thor Movies

The number of Marvel movies that Idris Elba has appeared in could make up its own list, so we just lumped them altogether here. Idris Elba plays the powerful watchman from Norse Mythology, Heimdall. Usually Heimdall appears in the same movies as Thor, acting as the gatekeeper of the nine realms, and helping transport Thor and his allies where they need to go. Elba’s physicality allows him to fit in perfectly with the other powerful Asgardians. However, Idris Elba also gets to show off his wisdom and depth in Heimdall’s perceptive dialogue and wise observations (he is acting as the most perceptive god, after all). Even though he is not the central character in this franchise, Elba’s contribution makes the details in the Marvel Universe come to life.

Luther Movie Is Happening at Netflix with Idris Elba Returning

Luther Movie Is Happening at Netflix with Idris Elba Returning

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