Let’s start with Stringer Bell. Stringer Bell is the reason our crew at Roy Thomson Hall was extra jacked for the premiere of Mandela: Long Walk To Freedom at TIFF. Mega man-crushing was happening on that carpet. Even Dylan, who is too cool to fangirl anyone, admitted he was all over it. And, as I wrote last week, Idris Elba delivered. He is a f-cking badass.
But in a new interview with GQ, Elba makes it clear that Stringer Bell means more to us than he does to him. He’s humble about the impact of Stringer, crediting the writing on The Wire for the character’s iconic status over his performance.
“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. Listen, I think I brought Stringer to life my way, but The Wire isn’t a classic because of Stringer Bell. The Sopranos was a classic because of Tony Soprano.”
As the writer points out though, Elba’s detachment from Stringer is also rooted in the fact that he was done with that experience before everyone else caught on. In that delay between when he played the part and when the audience finally responded, he had already walked away. So you could say he’s the exact opposite of Tom Hiddleton who references Loki in every conversation. Hiddleston would wear Loki every day. Elba’s totally over it.
This is a good, insightful interview overall. The journalist was allowed access to a candid subject who is open to reflection, and mature enough to be comfortable in being honest. He was willing to discuss his drama with Liam Gallagher – it was over a wool cap – and he was willing to discuss his drama with the woman who claimed her fathered her child when he wasn’t really the father as later determined by a DNA test.
Those are not the main takeaways from the article though. As it is with the best celebrity profiles, all the details together give you a better understanding of the person. And what emerges here about Elba is that he actually does seem like a real PERSON. Not a celebrity, but an actual person. Someone formed through real experience, someone who continues to have real experiences and is therefore…relatable?
How is this?
I was in San Francisco for the Pacific Rim junket a couple of months ago. Typically on junkets, during lunch break, the talent is protected by their people, ushered into a secret chamber, kept apart from the world. I finished my interviews before noon, so I was in the lobby waiting to go to the airport when I saw Elba come down from the elevator, on his own, and walk right out the front door of the hotel. He turned left, no one bothered him, and he went for a walk by himself, and you get that sense that that’s where he really exists – out there with us and not in there with them.
Click here to read the full piece.