Idris Elba proud to bring blockbuster Beast ‘back to the borough’ for premiere

Idris Elba Proud To Bring Blockbuster Beast ‘Back To The Borough’ For Premiere
Idris Elba speaking at a special screening of Beast at the Hackney Picturehouse in London, © PA Wire/PA Images
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By Ellie Iorizzo, PA Senior Entertainment Reporter

Idris Elba said it “felt special” to bring the premiere of Beast to the borough where he grew up – saying he has gone “from Hackney to Hollywood”.

The 49-year-old actor stars in the new thriller about a father and his two teenage daughters who find themselves hunted by a lion while holidaying in the savannah.


Elba returned to South Africa to shoot the blockbuster, having filmed drama Mandela: Long Walk To Freedom in the country in 2013.

Special screening of Beast – London
Will Packer, Idris Elba and Baltasar Kormakur (Victoria Jones/PA)

He told the PA news agency: “I feel like an honorary South African when I go there because of Mandela.


“I love the country. I love that part of the world. I have a very special love for it.”

The Luther star, who plays Dr Nate Daniels in Beast, appeared at its premiere at Hackney Picturehouse on Wednesday with the support of guest stars, including British rapper Stormzy, who he hugged on arrival.

Elba said: “Not too far from here, I was raised on Dalston high street. I would never imagine that one day I would bring a film that I am in and helped make back to the borough. It feels very special. I’m proud of it.

“From Hackney to Hollywood.”


Special screening of Beast – London
Idris Elba and Stormzy (Victoria Jones/PA)

In Beast, Elba’s recently widowed character returns to South Africa, where he first met his wife, to visit a game reserve when his family is stalked by a big cat.

“Acting with a CGI lion, it was technical, difficult, layered and slow – really slow – just to get it right,” he said.


“The lion is incredible in it. When you see it, it is, ‘Wow’, but I remember painstaking layers to make that happen.”

Talking about acting as a grieving husband, he added: “Everyone has gone through some sort of loss, but in this case it is about figuring out what the family dynamics are – kids and the loss of their parent and how tough that is on their relationship.”

Elba’s real-life daughter Isan auditioned for the role of his on-screen daughter, but the character went on to be played by This Is Us star Iyana Halley and Empire’s Leah Sava Jeffries.

The 87th Academy Awards – Arrivals – Los Angeles
Idris Elba and daughter Isan at the Academy Awards in 2015 (PA)

Director Baltasar Kormakur told PA: “We don’t cast given the second name, we cast whoever is right for the role.

“Even though it is his daughter, she was not necessarily right for that particular girl in age.”

Kormakur, who directed Everest, 2 Guns and Contraband, said he shot the film in a way that feels “relentless” before telling of the challenges of shooting in the wilderness.

“There was a hyena biting a cable in the middle of the night … I got almost run over by an elephant outside my house,” he said.

“I am a challenge junkie. There was nothing in me when I was invited to make a movie about a lion with Idris Elba that was going to say no.”

Elba added: “There was a pond sequence and apparently there was a snake roaming around in there that they couldn’t get out. I had to get in the water anyway, so I was like, ‘If it’s going to get me, it’s going to get me’. Some people were like, ‘I’m not going anywhere near it’.”

Kormakur said working with Elba was “fantastic.”

“He is one of a kind. He is a great actor and movie star. He has the whole package and for this movie he is playing a vulnerable father who takes on a lion. He needed the whole range and he brings that to the screen,” he said.

The film, which also stars Sharlto Copley as wildlife biologist Martin Battles, was adapted for the screen by Ryan Engle from Jaime Primak Sullivan’s original story.

Producer Will Packer told PA: “I like the fact this movie is about poaching and it is also about family, because Idris plays a father that is in a strained relationship with his daughters and I think that is something that we can all learn coming out of this pandemic.

“Everybody has had some tough times and sometimes the familiar relationships can be strained. At the end of the day, family is what you have got to lean on and what is most important and this movie takes an examination of that.”

Beast is released in UK cinemas on August 26.

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