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Best known as the calculating de facto leader of a Baltimore drug empire in HBO's critically acclaimed original series "The Wire,” British import IDRIS ELBA is quickly making his mark as an actor to watch in Hollywood.

Having starred in the critically acclaimed HBO Original Film "Sometimes In April” and Columbia/Tri-Star Pictures' "The Gospel,” for director Rob Hardy, Elba will next be seen opposite Hillary Swank in the Warner Bros. thriller "The Reaping.” At 19, Elba landed the lead part in "Coming Home”, an original play written by Oscar Watson performed on at London's Red Lion Pub Theater. Gaining rave reviews for his performance.

By the age of 24, Elba was a mainstay on British television; starring in some of the BBC's best rated shows "Dangerfield,” "Bramwell” and "Ultraviolet.” His work in European film found him opposite the legendary Catherine Deneuve in "Belle Maman.” In spite of the steady success that Elba was having he began to feel constricted by the breadth of roles that he was getting in the UK, and felt that there were more abundant opportunities to explore in America.

In 2000 "Ultra Violet,” was purchased by Fox Television to be adapted for the United States. Although the pilot was not put on the fall calendar, it offered Elba the big break into the American marketplace that he was looking for. In New York, he starred in Sir Peter Hall's p off-Broadway production of "Troilus and Cressida,” considered one of Shakespeare's more complicated plays. Elba received rave reviews for his portrayal of ‘Achilles.' Shortly thereafter he landed a part on Dick Wolf's acclaimed television series "Law and Order.”

Thanks to the levels of his work on stage and in various guest spots on television series, Elba's name quickly rose to the top of many casting director's list. Alexis Vogel, who was responsible for casting HBO's award winning series "OZ,” was looking for actors for yet another HBO series set in Baltimore. Sensing that he would be perfect for the gritty new series, she set up a meeting with the show's creator David Simon.

Elba scored, landing the role of ‘Stringer Bell,' the lieutenant of a Baltimore drug empire on "The Wire.” As the right hand and brains behind the operations of the imprisoned drug lord, Elba's portrayal of the complex but deadly ‘Stringer Bell,' quickly became one of the series' most compelling characters.

Hoping for the same success on the feature side in 2005, Elba made his leading role debut in the HBO Original Film "Sometimes In April,” by critically acclaimed director Raoul Peck. Set during the Rwandan genocide of 1994, Elba portrayal of ‘Augustan,' a Hutu soldier who trying to save his Tutsi wife and family during the mass killings, received rave reviews.

Idris Elba is always striving to see how deep he can go with a character, being more attracted to roles that aren't specifically written for his ‘type' and that challenge the psychology of the human experience. He aspires to be an "everyman” actor, one who can play any type of role, like his acting heroes, Andre Braugher, Robert DeNiro, Glenn Close, John Malkovich and Ben Kingsley. From the looks of it, Idris Elba is more than up to the challenge.

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