Interview - Idris Elba
What inspires you to travel?
I’m someone who has a hard time staying still – I’m always in a restless state. People often have dreams and desires but wind up just thinking about them instead of going out and doing them. I need to feel like I’m always moving forward and doing as much as I can instead of just wondering about it. That’s why I love throwing myself into as many different characters, stories and places as I can – living out different adventures all the time. You just need the will to go out and do it!
It seems that the more films you’ve made, the more you’ve
been able to bring travel ambitions and passions into the process. Would you
agree With that?
Yes, it becomes something that you can look for in a script. Obviously as time goes on you can be more selective, and I will always favour something that broadens my horizons as an actor, but as a traveller also.
In terms of your new film, Yardie, what was it like shooting many of the scenes in Jamaica?
Well, it’s a violent film so I wanted to shoot it in the hood. Those areas are where a lot of the action and violence would have taken place. It was important to make it as authentic as we could. That’s why I also wanted to use a lot of Jamaican actors to achieve that kind of realism. From a tourism perspective it’s an inconvenient reality, but this is a film set three decades ago, and I think audiences are intelligent enough to separate one reality (then) from how the island is now.
What do you like most about Jamaica?
I love anywhere I can swim and be next to the ocean. I love eating a lot of fresh fish and the food culture there is incredible – that’s probably the thing that struck me most. There was a real community feel too – the cast and crew loved Jamaican cooking.
You’ve worked in Jamaica and Vancouver, filmed Mandelain South Africa, and several years ago you visited your mother’s homeland,
Ghana, to shoot Beasts of No Nation. It seems travelling for work is not
a new thing?
It seems like I’m always travelling. I love discovering new
places and cultures. Going to Ghana was very emotional, though. I took my mum
with me and it was the first time she had been back there in 20 years.
The people in Accra know who I am and have been following my career, so it was unbelievable to connect with them and I felt so welcomed. What was really beautiful was to see how proud the people there are of me and what I’ve accomplished, and so going to Ghana and making the film there has been a very important moment in my life. I also got to meet a lot of my mum’s family and sisters; it was very special. The people are wonderful, and the weather is about as beautiful as any place on Earth.
Vancouver, where You filmed the Mountain Between Us with
Kate Winslet, must also have a special place in your heart as it’s where you
met your fiancée Sabrina Dhowre.
Yes, and again that was a script that allowed me to indulge that avowed love of travel – and what a place to do it, in the rugged British Columbia Rocky Mountains. Falling in love while making a movie about falling in love is pretty special.
How did you find working in the cold and heavy snow?
We were freezing out there – it was like -38C or something
up in the mountains – but I had a great time in Vancouver, I love it there. The
air, rock, greenery and space are all really good for the soul.
I also thought Invermere, in the eastern part of British Columbia, was incredible. It’s just beautiful. They’ve got hot springs there, so you can jump in and get warm. And the Canadians are great. I’ve got nothing but love for Canada.
Do you have a favourite destination?
South Africa is very special. I enjoyed working there and getting to know the people. South Africans are very laid-back and cool. It’s a place that I know I could live in or spend a lot of time. They also have a great live music scene there too, much like Jamaica.
Do you have any travel tips?
Pack light, take a set of headphones and don’t rush. Get to the airport early so that you don’t stress yourself, especially if you’re going on a holiday where the point is to relax and enjoy yourself.
Do you still find the energy and inspiration to push
further, both in terms of work and travel?
I’m always looking for new challenges. I’m very ambitious by
nature and there’s something in me that makes me want to take advantage of all
the opportunities I have. I always feel that there’s something more I can
I also felt a sense of urgency after my dad died in 2013 – a sense that he was only 72 and it was such a shame because there was so much more in life that he still wanted to do. It made me think that you never know when your time's up and until that moment I'm going to do, and travel, as much a