If you think I’m using this cover story and interview with Vanity Fair merely as an excuse to spend some quality time reviewing Idris Elba’s Instagram page and post sexy pictures of him, you’re absolutely right. Thankfully, Idris also had some interesting things to say that I can include as text in between the sexy pictures of Idris Elba. Everybody wins!
In the interview, Idris talked about what it feels like to have his name brought up in nearly every conversation about James Bond, even though it’s never going to happen. He also shed a little light on his approach to the role of Macavity in the upcoming Tom Hooper live-action Cats movie. Idris says he’s basically just doing a Jack Nicholson impersonation, and also admits he can’t really sing. We know he can’t sing, but can he smolder?
But as we know from his SNL hosting turn, his stint on The Office, and yes, even that Manny show I shame-watched in its entirety, Idris can also do comedy. Which is one aspect of the Jack Nicholson persona he tapped into for his role as Macavity the Mystery Cat (Note: Though I tried, I was unable to type that with a straight face). His Cats director Tom was a fan of his work as Stringer Bell in The Wire, and said he had Idris in mind for the role from the beginning.
What excited him, in this case, were Elba’s other dimensions. “In his other work I’d also seen glimpses of another side to him, a more mischievous, comedic side,” Hooper says. When he and Elba were thinking up a model for the character, Jack Nicholson—who “has that ability to be scary and comedic and unpredictable in the same moment,” says Hooper—came to mind.
Idris said, presumably with the straight face I was unable to muster, that he spent a lot of time thinking about the character of Macavity.
“The myth is that cats have nine lives, and he”—Macavity—“has one left. So he’s desperate to be acknowledged, and he’s slightly unhinged, and he’s obviously met death a few times and gotten past it. The character has complexities, and I think that Tom Hooper…wanted someone who could pull off that stuff—meanwhile singing and dancing and meowing.”
That actually describes Jack Nicholson quite well. As for Bond, Idris says he would have loved to play him but it wasn’t ever really something he pursued. That’s why when his name kept coming up, over and over, and over again, he playfully engaged with the speculation. But as is so often the case, the racists made it very not fun.
Elba confirms for me that this is not happening and adds that he doesn’t love to talk about it. “James Bond is a hugely coveted, iconic, beloved character, that takes audiences on this massive escapism journey,” he says. “Of course, if someone said to me ‘Do you want to play James Bond?,’ I’d be like, Yeah! That’s fascinating to me. But it’s not something I’ve expressed, like, Yeah, I wanna be the black James Bond.”
“You just get disheartened,” he says, “when you get people from a generational point of view going, ‘It can’t be.’ And it really turns out to be the color of my skin. And then if I get it and it didn’t work, or it did work, would it be because of the color of my skin? That’s a difficult position to put myself into when I don’t need to.”
It’s a good thing that there are many other positions I can picture Idris getting in to.
Here’s Idris taking a lie detector test which he obviously cheated on because I refuse to believe that Kate Winslet ever made him nervous.
Pic: Vanity Fair