Idris Elba Talks About Bringing Luther to the Big Screen


Idris Elba has come a long way since he burst onto the TV screen with impact in the excellent drama The Wire. He’s since won a golden globe award for his amazingly intense performance as maverick cop-on-the-edge John Luther in the hit BBC series Luther, and has graduated to the big screen, becoming a genuine movie star, in films like Thor, the Losers, Ghost Rider: Spirit of Revenge and Prometheus. This year he’s already appeared in Pacific Rim and will soon be reprising his role as Heimdall in the upcoming Thor: The Dark World, as well as portraying Nelson Mandela in the bio-pic A Long Walk to Freedom. While he has several other projects on the horizon, he’d like to bring his popular John Luther character to the big screen.


With the third and last season of Luther completed—the four episodes air in the US on BBC America from September 3rd-6th—Idris Elba has decided to walk away from the show to concentrate on his film career, but that doesn’t mean he’s done with the character yet. Elba says, “The time is really right for Luther to turn into a film, considering that we’ve had a really interesting continuing journey on the show.  Our intention was always to take it to a film, which is where we can really explore what makes this man tick and really understand Luther, or go on more and more weird and experimental journeys with him, by using the film medium.”


Series creator Neil Cross is hoping to get a movie version made next year. He’s already written a prequel script illustrating how Elba’s John Luther character ends up as the grim and conflicted tough cop we see in the show. Cross explains that the script follows the detective’s early career, with Luther still married to his ill-fated wife Zoe, and that the final scene in the film is the first scene of the TV series proper. Tentatively titled “the Calling”, it focuses on a traumatic case involving a child killer and culminates in Luther receiving his seven-month suspension. 


Elba commented, “I think the origin story is a classic superhero type set-up, and I’ve always likened Luther to a superhero.  As television makers, we bend the rules so much, so I’d be interested to understand where that came from and how we ended up in that first episode of Season 1.  That would be great.  That would be really exciting.  But then, beyond that, I’d like to pick up after Season 3 and figure out what happens next.”  He adds, We do want a new audience, but we also want to keep the fans interested, so we have to tread very carefully.”


When asked about making big-budget films like Thor and Pacific Rim, Elba explains why he likes doing those types of movies. “I’ll be in those films because my daughter, who’s 11, loves that type of film. Stacker Pentecost in Pacific Rim wasn’t particularly fun to play, but that type of film is fun.”