Idris Elba may have another blockbuster film on his hands as he’s starring in a new action film called Beast. In theaters now, the film follows a father (Elba) and his two teenage daughters who find themselves hunted by a huge, rogue lion intent on proving the savannah has only one apex predator.
Elba plays Dr. Nate Daniels, a recently widowed husband who returns to South Africa where he first met his wife. Daniels embarks on a long-planned trip with their daughters to a game reserve managed by Martin Battles (Sharlto Copley), who is an old family friend and wildlife biologist. The journey takes an extreme turn that involves a menacing fight for survival when the lion — a survivor of blood-thirsty poachers who now sees all of humanity as the enemy — starts to stalk them.
REVOLT chatted with the Golden Globe Award-winning actor about the biggest beast he’s had to face in his career, the relationship between man and animal, and the secret ingredient to what makes him a beast in Hollywood and in business. Read our exclusive Black Business Month interview below.
What’s the biggest beast you had to face in your career and how did you slay it?
Good question, man. The biggest beast I ever had to face was unemployment. I was living in New York in the mid to late 90s and told myself I would make it in America as a big actor. I took like four years of nothing and a financial hit — at one point, I didn’t have a place to live. It was a real beast, but here’s how I slayed it — like my character in the film, I always believed that I could do it. Also, not letting the feeling of fear or despair take over. I said, “I will do this” and I never let go.
When it comes to the relationship between man and animal, do you feel there’s a level of unspoken understanding and respect?
There are a lot of unspoken dynamics between human beings and animal life. We witnessed during the pandemic that animals, because there was less of a human footprint, they thrived more. In this film, we see a rogue lion because man came in and disbanded his pride. They went that way and he went another way, and the lion is now on his own. He can’t find them. This film doesn’t hit you on the head with it, but it certainly discusses that our relationship with animals could be better.
What is your take on entrepreneurship and how does one master it?
I wouldn’t call myself a master in entrepreneurship but what I will say is: When you purchase a computer, the box doesn’t say the specifics of what the computer is made to do. It’s a computer and it can do many things. Similar to our brains, which are more powerful than any computer that we’ve made — it’s a similar approach in my opinion. You have to apply the correct energy and programming in order to make it work. I don’t think I’m the best DJ in the world, but I DJ and I put a lot of effort in it to be considered good. I don’t think I’m the best rapper in the world, but I put them bars in because it’s a process. Everyone should think of entrepreneurialism as not doing too much, but do what you can. If you feel like you have a business idea, go for it.
Is there a secret ingredient that makes Idris Elba such a beast in Hollywood and in business?
It’s no secret, man. You must apply hard work and dedication to what you do and try to be good at it. Try to stay humble so you can always grow because if you get to the top, and you’re just looking down on everywhere, you got nowhere to go. I always try and stay humble and try to grow. In Hollywood, try to be as diverse as possible — if you’re gonna do one role and people have seen you, try and spread it out because then people want to see you more, right? I think with business, I’ve always not been afraid to take a risk. I think that’s something that people need to remind themselves of — whenever you start to work for yourself or you have an idea, you have to bet on yourself. You have to be your number one investor —that’s the secret sauce.
One item that you must have to fight off a lion is…
A tranquilizer rifle. If you have one of those, you’re halfway there.
If you could choose two celebrities to fight deadly lions with, who would you choose to help you with the challenge?
Taraji P. Henson because she has a commanding presence and will shoo them off. I would also choose Dwayne ‘The Rock’ Johnson because the lion can eat him and they won’t be hungry for me.