Idris Elba Gets Candid About Marriage, the James Bond Rumors and Cats

The 46-year-old British actor and father of two made headlines and shattered millions of hearts in April when he married model Sabrina Dhowre.

By Corinne Heller Jun 27, 2019 2:53 PMTags
Idris Elba, Vanity Fair, August 2019Collier Schorr exclusively for Vanity Fair

He's Elba, Idris Elba, and he is madly in love.

The 46-year-old British actor, dubbed the Sexiest Man Alive by People in 2018, made headlines and shattered millions of hearts in April when he married model Sabrina Dhowre. This marks the third marriage for Elba, who has a daughter from a previous one and a son from an additional past relationship. The actor got candid about marriage, his life with his family and his booming acting career in a cover interview with Vanity Fair for its August 2019 issue.

"Everything's a balance in life," he said. "I have to do the work, because it's a popular time for me, and it's best to have that. But also: I'm madly in love with my wife and my children."

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"At home, I'm not famous: I'm me," he continued. "And to my team and my family and the people that I work with every day when we build what we build, we're not famous. You know what I mean? It's day one every day."

Related: Idris Elba Marries Longtime Girlfriend Sabrina Dhowre

After almost a decade of appearing on various shows in his native Britain, Elba rose to fame with a role on HBO's The Wire in the early '00s. Since 2010, he has starred on the BBC show Luther. He has also build an impressive film career, with roles in films such as the Thor and Avengers films, Prometheus, Pacific Rim, Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom, Beasts of No Nation, Star Trek Beyond, and Finding Dory.

But there is no particular role many of his fans are dying to see him play: James Bond.

For years, there have been rumors that Elba would become the first black actor to play 007. Elba had said in 2014 that he would "absolutely" accept the role if it were offered to him. In 2018, he fueled the rumors, for one hot second, when he tweeted coyly, "My name's Elba, Idris Elba," and then added, "Don't believe the HYPE..."

Collier Schorr exclusively for Vanity Fair

Elba told Vanity Fair it is not happening.

"James Bond is a hugely coveted, iconic, beloved character, that takes audiences on this massive escapism journey," he said. "Of course, if someone said to me 'Do you want to play James Bond?,' I'd be like, 'Yeah!' That's fascinating to me. But it's not something I've expressed, like, 'Yeah, I wanna be the black James Bond.'"

"You just get disheartened when you get people from a generational point of view going, 'It can't be,'" he added. "And it really turns out to be the color of my skin. And then if I get it and it didn't work, or it did work, would it be because of the color of my skin? That's a difficult position to put myself into when I don't need to."

Collier Schorr exclusively for Vanity Fair

Meanwhile, Elba has two new big films fans can look forward to: the upcoming Fast & Furious spinoff Hobbs & Shaw, and the big screen adaptation of the Broadway musical Cats, which also stars Taylor SwiftIan McKellen and James Bond's Judi Dench. Elba plays a villain cat, Macavity.

"I'm not a 'singer,'" added the actor, who does moonlight as a DJ. "I've made music with singing. I'm musical...I'm an actor. I've never done it before, so I thought, 'Why not.'"

Cats director Tom Hooper told Vanity Fair that Jack Nicholson came to mind when he and Elba were thinking up a model for the character.

"The myth is that cats have nine lives, and [Macavity] has one left," Elba said. "So he's desperate to be acknowledged, and he's slightly unhinged, and he's obviously met death a few times and gotten past it. The character has complexities, and I think that Tom Hooper...wanted someone who could pull off that stuff—meanwhile singing and dancing and meowing."