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Idris Elba’s Biggest Lesson for His Directorial Debut Came from Ridley Scott — Sundance 2018

For his new film "Yardie," Elba took to heart Scott's advice about being thorough in absorbing the detail of past decades.

Idris Elba Dropbox Sundance Yardie

Making a directorial debut at Sundance is no small feat. Doing so with a story that spans two continents and two decades is an even bigger challenge. For Idris Elba, one of the most significant pieces of advice came from one of his former directors, Ridley Scott.

Talking at the IndieWire Sundance Studio presented by Dropbox, Elba spoke about how working on Scott’s film “American Gangster” opened his eyes to the importance of tiny details when making a period film.

“I remember walking onto the set and, as far as the eye can see, everything was 1973,” Elba said.

That calendar year is also pivotal to Elba’s new film “Yardie,” which opens in Kingston, Jamaica during a time of gang violence. Following “D” (Aml Ameen) 10 years later and his quest for revenge and clarity after the death of a family member, Elba and the production crew had to immerse the audience in two different time periods.

“If your eye deviates from the actor to the door and something’s wrong with the door, you’re out of the scene immediately. It was something I instilled in my actors about their environments,” Elba said. “I wanted my actors to really feel like this was their world.”

“Yardie,” based on Victor Headley’s 1992 novel of the same name, stars Ameen, Shantol Jackson, and Stephen Graham. The film is playing as part of Sundance’s World Cinema Dramatic Competition.

IndieWire will be speaking with creators at our studio throughout the opening weekend of Sundance 2018. For more of our coverage of this year’s festival, see our annual Sundance Bible

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