Idris Elba is on quite a roll. After winning the 2012 Golden Globe for Best Actor for his role on TV’s Luther, he boarded the Ridley Scott cinematic spaceship that is Prometheus as the ship's captain. After filming the super-secretive film for months, the UK actor admits exclusively in our interview that it’s nice to finally be able to open up about the maybe prequel to Alien (Is it the best sci-fi film of all time?). But, in our exclusive interview, he reports he still cannot say too much in terms of plot. “I feel good that I can talk about it, but I still don’t want to say too much,” Elba said and laughed.
Elba phoned Movie Fanatic and does take us inside the Scott experience and tells us why the director nicknamed him “Third Take Charlie.”
Movie Fanatic: So what’s it like to finally be able to talk about Prometheus?
Idris Elba: [Laughs] It’s been shrouded in secrecy, and for good reason. Nowadays audiences want to know more and they want it quickly. I think Prometheus is a good example of that. You can still not tell anybody anything and get a lot of interest for a film. But, it has a lot to do with Ridley Scott and the amazing cast they’ve put together.
Movie Fanatic: Was it nice as an actor to just go to work knowing you can do your thing without the world giving the production a running commentary?
Idris Elba: Yeah, you have no idea. We spent a lot of good and dedicated time to make this film special and a really good experience for the audiences. It always feels cheap to have people saying, “This is what it is. This is what happens.” I want you to see what we did when we were in Pinewood (Studios) that whole time pulling this stuff together.
Movie Fanatic: Have you ever filmed a movie at Pinewood?
Idris Elba: That was my first one.
Movie Fanatic: What did it mean to you as an actor to finally work at the legendary Pinewood?
Idris Elba: It’s almost an “I’ve arrived” moment for actors because you know coming through the gates, the legends of our industry have been there. I was no different. As soon as I walked in it, I was like, “I love it here.”
Movie Fanatic: What did you find about the Ridley Scott experience that maybe surprised you?
Idris Elba: Ridley Scott is not the most public figure. He keeps quiet. But, on set, he’s so giving. I had millions of great conversations with Ridley Scott. You feel like you should be paying him to be sitting with him soaking in all that experience. It’s like getting a master class. He would talk about each character and what you were saying. He would talk about how this scene would function within the movie, which is context that you don’t typically get.
Movie Fanatic: You have had great success across various mediums from stage to screen and TV, now with Luther. Is variety the spice of life to keep those muscles fresh?
Idris Elba: It is, in the past it could be proved dangerous for some actors to move around as much as I do. But, I think that’s part of what keeps artistic juices firing. It keeps me challenged to be able to play different roles across mediums. I grew up watching the De Niros of the world. The Jack Nicholsons of the world -- these fearless actors who reinvent themselves every time. For me, keeping that variety open keeps you in a long career.
Movie Fanatic: The cast of Prometheus is so top notch. Could you describe the experience on set, specifically working with Michael Fassbender -- another UK actor whom we just adore?
Idris Elba: The set was as professional as you would expect with a director like Ridley Scott. As for Michael Fassbender, he and I are good friends. He’s dedicated to his roles like no other that I’ve met. You know what I like about Michael the most, is that when the lights go out, he’s off. When he’s not working, he’s not working. He’s not a typical actor who takes themselves way too seriously.
Movie Fanatic: The challenge of this film, which was harder: Filming with green screen or not telling your loved ones what you were working on?
Idris Elba: [Laughs] Green screen filming wasn’t so much a challenge on this one. Ridley had built so much of the set to a point where you thought you were on a different planet half the time. It was 360 degrees surrounding you. I guess the challenge of all of them is to stand up to the level that Ridley wants. He doesn’t do more than three or four takes. He called me “Third Take Charlie.” He’d say, “Idris, it’s always your third take that is such magic.”