For nearly 10 years, Idris Elba has been nothing short of an international star. From his deep baritone as the drug kingpin Russell "Stringer" Bell in HBO's The Wire to his recent success on the Hollywood circuit, he has become one of today's most versatile actors. Later this year, he'll star as Nelson Mandela in the screen biopic of the iconic leader. In anticipation of his first starring role in a major Hollywood movie, we review the many hats worn by this dynamic actor.
Hilton the Gigolo, 'Absolutely Fabulous'
Elba's first credited role was in 1995 as a gigolo on Britain's critically acclaimed series Absolutely Fabulous.
DJ Big Driis
Did you know that Elba is a fairly prominent DJ? Neither did we. If you're lucky, you might catch "Big Driis" spinning at a club -- especially in London.
Russell 'Stringer' Bell, 'The Wire'
Elba's portrayal of the ruthless bibliophile and drug dealer on the HBO series from 2002 to 2004 is arguably his best-known role. It also introduced Elba to American audiences.
Elba teamed up with the British folk group Mumford & Sons to direct and star in their music video for the single "Lover of the Light."
Monty James, 'Daddy's Little Girls'
Elba played a hardworking mechanic in this movie from 2007, one of the few Tyler Perry films not to include Madea.
Derek Charles, 'Obsessed'
Cast as Beyoncé Knowles' husband in this 2009 film, Elba played a family man whose life was turned upside down once his office secretary began to stalk him.
DCI John Luther, 'Luther'
BBC's Luther, which debuted in 2010, stars Elba as a brilliant yet disturbed detective who is fighting the underbelly of London's crime world.
Elba has released three EPs: Big Man in 2006, King Amongst Kings in 2009 and High Class Problems Vol. 1 in 2010. Check out the video for the single "Private Garden."
Nelson Mandela, 'Long Walk to Freedom'
Idris Elba with Naomie Harris
In this upcoming movie (it's due out in the U.S. in limited release in November), Elba will portray the anti-apartheid hero Nelson Mandela. The role of Madiba is perhaps Elba's most ambitious to date.
Diamond Sharp is an editorial fellow at The Root. Follow her on Twitter.
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