Idrissa Akuna Elba was born on September 6th, 1972 in the London Borough of Hackney to Winston, a Sierra Leonean man who worked at the Ford Dagenham plant, and Eve, a Ghanaian woman. Elba grew up in Hackney and East Ham where he attended school in Canning Town. While there he reduced his initial name to “Idris”. To support himself between roles in his early career, he worked odd jobs including tyre-fitting, cold-calling, and night shifts at Ford Dagenham.
Elba’s first acting appearance was in the Crimewatch murder reconstructions and in 1994 he starred in The Boot Street Band, a BBC children’s play. In 1995, he landed his first significant role on a series called Bramwell, which was a medical drama set in 1890’s England. Elba was cast in the starring role of Monty in the film Daddy’s Little Girls in 2007. He appeared in 28 Weeks Later (2007) and This Christmas (2007), which brought in nearly $50 million at the box office. In 2013, Elba portrayed Nelson Mandela in the film Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom, which is based on his autobiography. He played Heimdall in Thor (2011), Thor: The Dark World (2013), and Avengers: Age of Ultron (2015). Elba also starred alongside Abraham Attah in the film Beasts of No Nation (2015).
In the 2016 sequel Star Trek Beyond, Elba played the main antagonist, Krall. In 2019, he starred as the villain in Fast & Furious Presents: Hobbs & Shaw, a spin-off of the Fast & Furious franchise. Most recently he starred as the merciless villain, Rufus Buck, in The Harder They Fall ( 2021).