'I’ve seen how uprisings have come from pain': Idris Elba on Black Lives Matter

“History maketh the man,” says Idris Elba. The actor is quoting his late father, a man who he has spent the past two years playing a version of in his 1980s-set Sky sitcom, In the Long Run.

“The 80s saw massive explosions in politics and culture – from Mandela and apartheid to Thatcher – and it was also when I grew into a teenager and experienced the beginnings of independence,” he says. “It was a sad and revolutionary time, and it felt important to show the younger generations especially where we came from so they can understand what has led to their realities today.”

Elba plays Walter, patriarch of the Sierra Leonean Easmon family, who together navigate the prejudices of their largely white community on a council estate in Leyton, east London. In addition, he must deal with the politics of his workplace at a local factory. For Elba, having grown up on an estate in Hackney with his father working in the nearby Ford factory, it is a story that runs closely to his own. And filming in an afro wig, turtlenecks and flares, representing this period feels particularly relevant at the moment.

Read the interview in the Guardian.

[This piece was published on 16/07/20]