Idris Elba oversaw West Baltimore’s drug trade on “The Wire,” waged war on monsters in “Pacific Rim” and squared off against Denzel Washington in “American Gangster.” He says his most challenging role to date, however, was being People magazine’s “Sexiest Man Alive” in 2018.
“My hardest role ever,” he joked to “Entertainment Tonight Canada” on Friday. “I said to the photographer, ‘You know, I don’t always photograph great in pictures, this picture needs to be great.’ He’s like, ‘No, no, no, we’ve done this a million times. We know how to do it.’ And I was like, ‘OK, I’ll just be me.’”
Elba is one of only 37 men to be chosen for the Sexiest Man honor, per People. He’s been joined in more recent years by the likes of Paul Rudd and Michael B. Jordan. For Elba, the shoot was rather enlightening.
“They do this sort of thing where they make your favorite camera angle work for the cover,” he told “ET Canada.”
Elba told People at the time that he was stunned to be named Sexiest Man Alive. He joked that he admired his body in the mirror and said, “Yeah, you are kind of sexy today,” before sheepishly stating that it was “just a nice feeling” and “an ego boost for sure.”
That ego boost resurfaced when “ET Canada” interviewer Carlos Bustamante told Elba that his colleagues around the office were shocked to learn Elba turned 50 last September. Bustamante said the native Londoner resembled a much younger man on screen, in person and on People’s cover.
“I appreciate it, first of all ― thank you to the office that’s saying that,” Elba replied. “I always view that my body is a shell, OK? It’s a shell. Who I am lives in my soul and my spirit. Basically I do things to keep my soul happy. I think in turn, that keeps your shell happy.”
“So, hopefully that’s where my, I don’t know, my youthfulness comes from,” he continued. “But I do try to do stuff that’s fun. Exercise-wise, I mean, I have this theory that if you imagine you’re doing 10 press-ups … you’re like, ‘Whoo, I just worked out really hard.’”
“That 10-mile run I just did in my head, whoo,” added Elba. “It’s hurting me.”