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SYFY WIRE Interviews

Idris Elba on surviving 'Beast,' a 'Luther' movie & how well his characters would do against a lion

Would Elba himself fare better than DCI John Luther, Bloodsport, or Stringer Bell? 

By Brian Silliman
Idris Elba in Beast

Idris Elba is about to face off with a lion. If you are conjuring images akin to Jason Statham punching a shark in the face, put them out of your mind. Elba’s latest film, Beast, takes a more serious approach when it comes to survival of the fittest. 

The new movie (directed by Baltasar Kormákur) finds Elba in the role of Dr. Nate Samuels, who along with his two daughters ends up on a safari from hell. All of them are still grieving the loss of a wife and mother, and they must overcome that so they can defend against a very pissed off lion as well as a monstrous group of poachers. 

Who is the real “beast” of the movie’s title? How would Elba himself fare in this situation? SYFY WIRE caught up with Elba in a virtual interview to ask all of these questions and more. We couldn’t help but ask about some of our favorite Elba film and television roles while we were at it, including Stringer Bell (The Wire), Roland Deschain (The Dark Tower), Bloodsport (The Suicide Squad), and our most precious of all, DCI John Luther (Luther). 

If you were facing off with a lion in real life, do you think you'd manage as well as Nate does?

Well, yeah. Knowing who I am as a person, I'm going to try and survive this. To be fair, I don't think Nate really does great. He's probably a smart thinking kind of guy. He's no fighter. He doesn't have that fighting spirit, but this does grow in him in the film.

I'm a bit more of a, "Oh, yeah? You want some of me?" That's who I am. I would've been eaten a lot earlier in the film, probably.

Looking at some of your beloved characters, who do you think would do the best in this situation?

John Luther.

What about Roland Deschain, Stringer Bell, or Bloodsport?

Roland Deschain, no. Stringer, no. Bloodsport... yeah.

He'd do well?

Yeah. Bloodsport will make it.

Idris Elba

Since you mentioned DCI John Luther, is he in love with Alice Morgan [played by Ruth Wilson on Luther]? Can we possibly look forward to seeing more of him?

So the first question, the answer would be, quite possibly. And second, the answer is yes. We've made a film and it's going to come out in the new year.

Going back to Beast… in terms of the title of the film itself, do you think the title is referring to the lion, a father defending his daughters, the poachers, or possibly all of them?

Yeah. I think "Beast" does refer to the massive pot of ingredients of all these themes that are thrown in. Calling the lion a beast is to evoke something into the audience. But when you watch the film, it's a bit more than that. The human being becomes the beast in some instances. The poaching and that becomes beast-like to what it does to the natural environment of the animals. 

What mourning does when someone dies and how you deal with that in your family, that becomes like a beast, the way it attacks the family structure. Yeah. I think there is symbolism in the word.

Beast is now playing in theaters.  

This interview was edited for clarity.