18 Things You Didn't Know About 'Beast' Star Idris Elba

·2 min read
Idris Elba<p>Getty Images for Superdry</p>
Idris Elba

Getty Images for Superdry

Idris Elba, 49, plays Dr. Nate Daniels, a recent widower who brings his two daughters on a long-planned trip to a game reserve in Beast (in theaters August 19). But the family vacation quickly turns into a gritty fight for survival. Here are some things you may not know about the London-born star of the TV series Luther and the film Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom.

Related: What Was Meghan and Harry’s $9K Wedding Gift to Idris Elba?

  • His name—of African origin—was shortened from Idrissa Akuna Elba.

  • Following in his father’s footsteps, Elba worked night shifts at the Ford auto factory in Dagenham, East London, to make ends meet in between acting gigs.

  • He was about to give up on his acting career when he landed the role of Russell “Stringer” Bell on TV’s The Wire—just under the wire!

  • Elba and his wife, actress Sabrina Dhowre Elba, attended the royal wedding of Prince Harry and Meghan Markle in May 2018, and he also DJ’d the reception with a playlist requested by the bride.

  • Elba launched his own fashion line in conjunction with Superdry in 2015 and released the second installment of his collection in 2020.

  • In addition to voicing the Bengal tiger, Shere Khan, in Disney’s live-animated hybrid The Jungle Book (2016), he released his own remixes of the movie’s songs “Bare Necessities” and “Trust in Me.”

  • Elba was appointed an Officer of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire (OBE) by Queen Elizabeth II in 2016 for his work as an actor.

  • For his role in Long Walk to Freedom as Nelson Mandela, he channeled his father’s admiration of South Africa’s first democratically elected president.

  • He is a devoted soccer fan, especially of the Arsenal Football Club.

  • In 2015, Elba broke a U.K. land speed record that had originally been set in 1927 by reaching 180.361 mph while driving along Wales’ Pendine Sands beach in a Bentley Continental GT Speed.

  • A music lover and sometimes DJ, Elba has also appeared in music videos for the Isley Brothers, Fat Joe, Angie Stone, Mumford & Sons and Macklemore & Ryan Lewis.

  • While waiting for his first break in the U.S. back in the late 1990s, Elba he worked for a time as a bouncer at Carolines Comedy Club in New York City.

  • Elba was named the Sexiest Man Alive by People magazine in 2018.

  • In 2018, Time Out magazine named him one of the “50 Londoners Who Make the City Awesome.

  • He got tongue-tied when he met his celebrity crush, Meryl Streep.

  • He’s an actor with no formal acting training.

  • In 2015, he became the first male to make the cover of Maxim magazine.

  • Daniel Craig nominated him to play James Bond.

Related: Idris Elba Plays a Manny in a Netflix Comedy