No matter what genre you prefer, chances are you’ve seen something with Idris Elba in it. Known for his roles in serious shows like The Wire, he also has roles in Finding Dory and the upcoming Star Trek Beyond. This summer, Elba stars in a documentary examining the origins and history of speed and the underground racing scene.
Did you discover your own limits while filming Idris Elba: King of Speed?
Yeah, the show is about pushing a human being against their fears, and I guess I’m a willing guinea pig in that space. But there were definitely moments where I just thought to myself ‘Why am I doing this?’ and ‘Maybe I shouldn’t do this.’ There’s a sequence where I’m learning to fly a plane and do aerobatics – now flying a plane is one thing but doing aerobatics is like the most extreme rollercoaster times 10 and I definitely felt like this was a silly idea but eventually I realized that no matter how scared you are of absolutely anything, once you face it and understand it, you can overcome it. I think that’s the one thing I learned. There is nothing off limits. No one should be afraid of anything, to be honest.
How did you deal with your fears of heights and claustrophobia while filming?
It was definitely a challenge. I think with this show we tried to be authentic and you can definitely see that I’m uncomfortable with my fear of heights, especially in the plane sequences. I’ll be honest, I did not enjoy doing that but it was a challenge and you’ll see that. It was one of the best challenges I overcame because I was very vocal about not wanting to do it. Then the claustrophobia, well, the plane was tiny so not only was I claustrophobic in this tiny little cockpit, but I was like a million miles up in the air wishing I wasn’t there. Eventually, I just dealt with it and sort of conditioned myself to just look good for the cameras.
What drives your passion for this role and these hobbies?
I think what makes me feel passionate is that every day is a new experience. You can sit there and do the things that you are most comfortable with all day long, but you don’t really grow. When we’re kids, you’re learning every day – it’s all new experiences, you are fearless, you’re just going for it. Then when you get to a certain age your consciousness kicks in and you start saying ‘Oh I don’t like that, I’m not sure about that.’ What I like about doing a show like this or having hobbies that are extreme is that I’m still opening that envelope in my head… like wow – that was new, never done that before. I think that’s something I really strive for; otherwise I’d get bored doing the same thing over and over again. I love my job as an actor because it’s super varied. One minute I’m a detective, the next minute I’m an alien in Star Trek. That’s varied.
Idris Elba: King of Speed will air on Discovery Channel [Starhub 422 / SingTel TV 202] on July 7, Thursday 9:50PM. Elba is also starring in Idris Elba: No Limits premiering 28 July at 9.50pm SG on Discovery Channel [Starhub 422 / SingTel TV 202].