There aren’t many actors we’d say this about, but we’d pretty much pay to watch Idris Elba read anything. The phone book. The most embarrassing entries from our teenage diaries. Dialogue from “Pacific Rim.” Anything. Since breaking through with “The Wire” a decade ago, Elba’s gone from strength to strength, and 2013 will probably be marked as the year in which he became a full-blown leading man: he lent gravitas to Guillermo Del Toro‘s aforementioned monster mash, and continued a phenomenal turn as the wounded bear of a policeman in “Luther,” while looking to be a serious awards contender as a surprisingly convincing Nelson Mandela in “Mandela: Long Walk To Freedom.”
There’s lots more on the way, including a return to space viking shenanigans in “Thor: The Dark World,” a lo-fi British indie in “Second Coming” as well as joining a superb cast led by Sean Penn in “The Gunman,” but Elba’s lined up another project, and it’s with one of our favorite filmmakers. According to Deadline, Elba will both star and produce in “Beasts Of No Nation,” an adaptation of Uzodinma Iweala‘s bestselling novel, set to be directed by “Sin Nombre” and “Jane Eyre” helmer Cary Fukunaga.
The novel’s harrowing, powerful stuff, set in an unnamed West African country, which follows Agu, a young boy forced to become a child soldier, and Elba will play The Commander who initiates Agu into his army. It’s a world away from Mandela’s righteousness, and a bold and fearless follow-up move from Elba. Fukunaga’s been developing the project since 2007, but it’s now independently financed, and the filmmaker told us a few months back that he’s hoping to shoot the film in Africa in March, once he’s done with his HBO project “True Detective.” An exciting pairing, and we can’t wait to see what they come up with when the film lands (most likely in 2015).