Idris Elba knows how to wear a suit.
The actor covers GQ magazine’s Style Issue. Elba is a seasoned actor, but his life has been filled with many twists and turns. Read on to discover more about Elba’s past, which includes dealing drugs, being a shy kid and finding out a child he thought was his was in fact not.
On selling marijuana and working as a doorman to make a living:
“Yeah, it was, because I was running with cats. I mean, I was DJ’ing, but I was also pushing bags of weed; I was doing my work. I had to. I know that sounds corny, but this is the truth.” He says he’d sell drugs at Carolines, and meanwhile all these successful guys would come through: D. L. Hughley, Dave Chappelle. “All those black comedians, they knew me as a doorman.”
On his popular role of Stringer Bell on HBO’s The Wire:
“That really is more about the writing of The Wire than it is the performance. You know, Stringer Bell is a great character that was written. I happened to play him, but it could’ve been anybody playing that role.”
On a woman he was dating saying he was the father of her child:
“The celebration of having a son—from a man’s perspective, it’s massive.” He told friends about it. He told reporters about it. Then came the suggestion—not from the child’s mother, but from elsewhere—that not everything was what it appeared to be.
On seeing the paternity results:
“To be given that and then have it taken away so harshly,” he says, “was like taking a full-on punch in the face: POW.”
On finding out he was not the father of a boy he was calling his son:
“You know, the truth is—like, even admitting it, I’ll probably get laughed at for the rest of my life. But it is just tragic, and it happened.” He looks directly at me when he says this. “But I wasn’t knocked out. I stood right the f–k back up, and I ain’t aiming to take another punch in the face ever again.
On having a shy personality as a kid:
As a kid, Elba says, “I sort of blended into the background quite a bit. I wasn’t the guy that was a big personality. I was the tall, silent, quiet type.” Even now—I can attest to this—he gets lost in crowds. Walk into a room with him and watch him disappear. “I call it the invisible factor,” he says. “On any ordinary street, walking down in London Soho in a cap, I’m just a f–king tall black man walking along.”