Idris Elba went from the king of TV to Hollywood’s biggest stars: appearing in everything from action movies to Cats — here are the best Idris Elba movies
Charlotte Colombo
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What is the Best Idris Elba movie? When he shot to fame in drama series‘ The Wire and Luther, one thing was clear: Elba had something special about him. In whatever movie and TV series he’s in, he never fails to elevate it to another level and give his absolute all to whatever role he’s given.
People might know him simply as “the guy from Luther,” and while Luther is undoubtedly some of his best work, it does him a disservice to not consider all the contributions he’s made to the big screen over the past decade. Throughout his illustrious career, the 49-year-old has been nominated for four Golden Globes and five Emmys. As of May 2019, his movies have earned more than $9.8 billion at the global box office, while in North America, he is amongst the top 20 highest-paid actors in cinema.
Maybe you know him more from his music career as DJ Big Driis, but no matter how you got introduced to the thespian, let us guide you through the best Idris Elba movies out there — at least, in my opinion.
Best Idris Elba movies: Idris Elba in Cats
Idris Elba isn’t just a badly-CGI’d, musical cat in this movie… he is a naked, badly-CGI’d, musical cat.
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Macavity lives in my head rent-free the way a sleep paralysis demon perches on the end of your bed.
Best Idris Elba movies: Idris Elba in Molly's Game
Molly’s Game features a fine performance by Idris Elba as the lawyer opposite Jessica Chastain’s nuanced and layered portrayal of Molly Bloom. The character is a pillar of consistency in a fairly chaotic movie, but I can’t move past Idris’ American accent in this. Sorry.
Best Idris Elba movies: Idris Elba in Suicide Squad
The good news is that the second Suicide Squad movie directed by James Gunn is a hell of a lot better than the first one.
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The bad news is the first movie was so terrible that the bar is literally in hell. Idris Elba, again, fulfils his brief as the grizzled, reluctant leader Bloodsport, but it’s a fairly generic role in a fairly generic movie.
Best Idris Elba movies: Idris Elba in the Jungle Book
The power of voice acting should never be underestimated, as Idris Elba shows us in the live-action adaptation of The Jungle Book. He sneers his way through the sinister role of Shere Khan so excellently, that it genuinely brings a shiver down my spine.
Best Idris Elba movies: Idris Elba in Zootopia
I don’t know about you, but Chief Bogo is the only cop I trust. He’s stoic, steely, demands respect and delivers killer lines like, “Life isn’t some cartoon musical where you sing a little song and all your insipid dreams magically come true.”
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Zootopia is one of those children’s movies that goes above and beyond and is actually a pretty compelling watch for people of all ages — and part of that is honestly due to Elba’s vocal talent. Don’t lie to yourself — Chief Bogo is clearly the breakout character of this movie.
Best Idris Elba movies: Idris Elba in Hobbs and ~Shaw
Given how expansive the Fast and Furious franchise is, it’s difficult for all the characters and plotlines to not all merge together in one big clump. But Elba’s role as the menacing, part-robot “Black Superman” Brixton Lore is definitely one of the more unique and memorable villains from the franchise. He says stuff like “genocide, shmenocide,” has superpowers, and throws The Rock around like a ragdoll.
Best Idris Elba movies: Idris Elba in Star Trek Beyond
Krall is one of those villains where, despite not necessarily agreeing with his methods (being a warlord is bad, guys), you kind of understand where he’s coming from in terms of being frustrated with the Federation.
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What makes Krall especially heartwrenching is the knowledge that he isn’t just your standard scary alien villain — he was previously Captain Edison, a committed soldier who ended up slowly becoming disillusioned. It’s hard to feel bad for, you know, warlords, but Elba manages it with a layered performance.
Best Idris Elba movies: Idris Elba in Mandela: A Long Walk to Freedom
How can you capture the spirit and determination of a legend like Nelson Mandela? It’s a hard part to play, especially if, as in A Long Walk to Freedom, it’s over a long period of time, but Elba produces some of his most compelling work in this biopic, where he captures Mandela’s steely determination and courage in a way that makes this movie unforgettable.
Best Idris Elba movies: Idris Elba in Pacific Rim
Pacific Rim will go down in history not only as one of Elba’s best ever roles, but as a modern classic. In terms of why his role of Marshal Stacker Pentecost is so compelling, director Guillermo del Toro puts it best. “I wanted somebody that could bring a lot of authority, but that you could feel the weight of the world on his shoulders,” he said in an interview. “
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Idris is one of those actors that is capable of embodying humanity, in almost like a Rodin sculpture-type, larger than life, almost like a Russian realism statue, you know, big hands, all the turmoil of humanity in his eyes. I wanted somebody that you could have doubts internally, and very few guys can do that.”
Best Idris Elba movies: Idris Elba in Beasts of No Nation
Beasts of No Nation is a harrowing, unflinching watch about the depravity of war and the way young people are manipulated into becoming killing machines. Told from the point of view of child soldier, Agu, Idris Elba is exceptional as the unflinching, manipulative, and truly terrifying Commandment, with the role earning him well-deserved Golden Globe and BAFTA nominations. It’s unlike any role he has performed before, and as difficult a watch it is, Elba’s performance is nothing short of phenomenal.
Watch Idris Elba in his latest film, Beast, in cinemas from August 26, 2022.
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Charlotte Colombo
Chronically online. Official Staff Writer and unofficial TikTok, The Boys, MCU, and streaming service expert. Past bylines include Business Insider, VICE, Rolling Stone, NBC, The Independent and more.

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