Pardon me. I suddenly feel parched. Sigh, The thirst Jesus, the thirst.
The powerhouse-DJ-turned-actor-still-DJ that is Idris Elba. Oh my. Couldn’t even complete the thought. Yes that man, covers GQ’s October 2013 issue in all of divinely created glory.
Expertly outfitted in three piece suits I swear were made with him in mind, photographer Sebastian Kim gathers the quintessential essence of what we love about the Mandela star: charisma, sexy appeal, power.
It’s hard to imagine that Idris is a wallflower but any stretch of the imagination, but according to his interview with Zach Baron, the actor has mastered the art of the “invisible factor”:
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.”
On skipping back and forth across the pond to make ends meet, being a drug dealing club bouncer and the untimely end of his marriage:
Elba spent his twenties going back and forth between New York and London, looking for work. In New York he would stay in Brooklyn, where he’d work on his American accent at a Fort Greene barbershop called Ace of Spades. He had an on-and-off relationship with a woman who lived in London, and when he was 26, they decided to get married. “I liked the idea of being married,” Elba says. “I was focused in on what I was trying to do in my life. And my girl supported me.”
But whatever roles there were in America, Elba wasn’t finding them. He DJ’d at New York dives to help make rent, worked for a while as a bouncer at Carolines, a comedy club. He and his wife moved around a bunch. “I had to keep going back and forth to New York, to London, to try and make a bit of money real quick.” Back in the States, Elba’s wife “didn’t adjust to the culture as quickly as I did.” And he was gone a lot. “We just had a hard time. The next thing you know, we broke up.”
The timing was bad; she was pregnant. Elba began sleeping in his Astro van. “The apartment we had lived in together was in Jersey City. So when I left, I was sofa-hopping here and there and got to a place where I was parking it in Jersey somewhere and just camping down for the night.”
“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.”
STOP THE PRESSES! IDRIS LIVED IN MY HOMETOWN AND I HAD NO KNOWLEDGE OF IT?! *le sigh*
Learning he was not the father of his son:
“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.”
And then there was the fact that he’d mentioned the kid in public, the knowledge, even then, that at some point he’d be sitting in a room like this one, being asked about the worst, most humiliating thing that ever happened to him. “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 fuck back up, and I ain’t aiming to take another punch in the face ever again. Do you understand what I’m saying? It happened to me. I moved on.”
Read his entire interview with GQ here, and catch the photo shoot in its entirety below:
Just because, here’s the behind the scenes video:
Be Extraordinary- Alyssa Peacock