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IDRIS ELBA (Gordon Jennings) Previously best known as the calculating de facto leader of a Baltimore drug empire in HBO's critically acclaimed original series "The Wire,” British export Idris Elba is quickly making his mark as an actor to watch in Hollywood with a string of well-received performances in high-profile films.

Elba started his career in his native London, where he had become a mainstay on British television by his mid twenties. He starred in some of the UK's top rated shows, such as "Dangerfield,” "Bramwell” and "Ultraviolet.” In 2000, "Ultraviolet” was purchased by Fox in the United States, offering Elba the break into the American marketplace that he was looking for. After moving to New York, Elba received rave reviews for his portrayal of Achilles in Sir Peter Hall's off-Broadway production of Troilus and Cressida, considered one of Shakespeare's more complicated plays. Shortly thereafter he landed a part on the acclaimed television series "Law and Order.”

round the same time, Alexa Fogel, who was responsible for casting HBO's award winning series "Oz” was looking for actors for 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 an imprisoned drug lord, Elba's portrayal of the complex but deadly Bell quickly became one of the most compelling on US TV. As popularity of the show grew around the world so did the appreciation of global audiences and critics for Elba's landmark performance.

Elba's leading role debut was in the HBO Original Film, Sometimes In April, by critically acclaimed director Raoul Peck. Set during the Rwandan genocide of 1994, Elba's portrayal of Augustan, a Hutu soldier who trying to save his Tutsi wife and family during the mass killings, received rave reviews. A prolific run of leading roles followed in Tyler Perry's dramatic feature, Daddy's Little Girls, opposite Hilary Swank in the thriller The Reaping and in the horror thriller 28 Weeks Later.

Elba next starred in the award-winning film American Gangster, directed by Ridley Scott. Idris, as Tango, a drug boss battling Frank Lucas (Denzel Washington) to establish himself as the number one importer of heroin in the Harlem district of Manhattan. Based on a true story, the film was released in November 2007.

In June 2007 Elba moved to London to start filming Guy Ritchie's new film RocknRolla, also starring Gerard Butler, Thandie Newton and Tom Wilkinson. He played Mumbles, a gang member on the trail of a stolen painting. The film was released in October 2009 and went straight to #1 in the UK box office in its first week of release. Following this success, the film was released in October 2008 in the US.

April 2008 saw the release of the crime thriller Obsessed, directed by Steve Shill. Elba starred opposite Beyonce Knowles, and the movie took $28.5 million on its opening weekend, storming to # 1 in the box office and becoming the highest-grossing opening on record for the ‘stalker thriller' genre movie. Idris plays a successful business man with a beautiful wife who finds his idyllic life threatened by a sinister employee with tendencies of a stalker. 

After this, Elba moved to California to start filming Takers, directed by John Luessenhop. The story of a group of bank robbers who find their $20 million plan interrupted by a hard-boiled detective, the film co-stars Matt Dillon and Hayden Christensen, with a US release due in August 2010.

Next, Elba flew to Puerto Rico to make The Losers, alongside Zoe Saldana and Jeffery Dean Morgan. Based on the DC Comic of the same name, the film tells the story of a team of CIA black ops who, after being betrayed and left for dead, root out those who targeted them for assassination. The film was released worldwide in April 2010.

In March 2009, Idris appeared on American television screens in the hit show "The Office.” Elba's character was a no-nonsense addition to the Dunder Mifflin's offices who found himself in competition with Steve Carell's Michael Scott over the course of six episodes.

In May 2009, Elba moved to Glasgow to start work on Legacy, directed by Thomas Ikimi. Elba played Malcom Gray, a Black Operations operative who from a botched mission in Eastern Europe, to New York where he is torn between retribution and personal salvation as he mentally unravels. Elba served as Executive Producer on the film which was chosen to close The Glasgow Film Festival in February 2010 and received it's US premiere at the Tribeca Film Festival in April 2010.

Elba returned to London in late 2009 to film the crime drama series Luther, for the BBC, playing the title role of John Luther, a detective struggling with his own terrible demons, and supported by some of the most exciting current British actor, the six episodes were shown on BBC 1 in April. 2010. Audiences and critics alike responded to Elba's portrayal of the tormented detective: the Daily Mail Weekend wrote of his performance ‘Idris Elba is an actor with formidable screen presence [and he gives] a towering performance in the title role,' while AA Gill wrote in Sunday Times Culture ‘Elba... has real physical presence... you just can't stop watching him.' The series was been picked up by BBC America who will launch in late 2010.

In mid 2010, Elba filmed the much anticipated Marvel comic book adaptation Thor, directed by Kenneth Branagh, alongside Natalie Portman, Anthony Hopkins and Samuel L Jackson. The film is slated for a May 2011 release.

In June 2010, Elba signed on to appear in at least four episodes of the upcoming Showtime comedy "The Big C." "The Big C" centers on a suburban wife and mother, played by Laura Linney, whose life is turned upside down when she's diagnosed with cancer, and Elba will play her love interest.

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