The success of “Luther” and numerous other film roles have allowed a bevy of reference points for fans of Idris Elba, but none has risen quite so high in people’s minds as the actor’s role of Stringer Bell on HBO‘s “The Wire.” You’d have been hard-pressed to find someone who actually thought Elba was British, so spot-on was Elba’s American accent in the Baltimore-set show, but while it exists for many in their top few slots of the greatest shows ever, one person behind on the whole phenomenon has turned out to be the actor himself.
As Elba admitted during a recent Playboy interview (via AV Club), he’s still got some catching up to do with the David Simon-created show — namely, all five seasons of it. “I’ve never watched ‘The Wire,’ ” he said. “I’ve seen a full episode at screenings but never at home. I’ve never watched an entire season. I’ve not seen any episode of season two, most of season three and none of seasons four and five.” Pinning his shirked viewing on the fact that he’s “supercritical” of his own work, Elba also explained that he’s dodged the acclaim for his role on the show to keep himself sane. “As an actor, if you’re being told how wonderful you are, what do you need to strive for? I don’t know if I’m good just because some critic says I am in the press… The Golden Globe award told me that, thanks. And the two Emmy nominations. Just the small things.”
Displaying the honesty regarding “The Wire” that most people keep repressed (this writer sadly included — season three was the drop-off point), Elba also delves into the real-life preparation for Stringer Bell on the streets of London and New York remembering that “flash drug dealers went to jail, cool drug dealers didn’t. I had that embedded in my system since I was a kid.” You can read the full interview with Elba over at Playboy, and let us know which season — if he could only pick one — he should marathon when he has a free weekend to spare.