Idris Elba on the challenges of stepping back into the shoes of DCI John Luther
Idris Elba has said stepping back into the shoes of DCI John Luther was “quite easy” but ensuring he was conveying the intense emotions of the script was where the challenge lay.
The British star, who began playing the hot-headed detective 13 years ago in the critically acclaimed BBC crime thriller series, has reprised the role for the first time since 2019 for a new Netflix film titled Luther: The Fallen Sun.
Written by the show’s original creator Neil Cross, the film sees the brilliant but disgraced detective break out of prison to hunt down a sadistic serial killer, played by Andy Serkis, who is terrorising London.
Speaking at the film’s world premiere in central London about getting into the headspace for such a dark storyline, Elba, 50, told the PA news agency: “A lot of it is just getting into the script and the writing and the story and the why and the who.
“I think it’s written so well that it’s quite easy to step back in. What’s not easy is just making sure you’re hitting real emotions. That’s what the audience expects.”
The actor, who was also a producer on the film, admitted there was “a lot pressure” to ensure they did not lose old fans with this project and also the desire to entice new ones.
“But when you love doing what you’re doing it doesn’t feel like work. We took about three years to get this right and get the scripts right and get the ingredients right, and I think we got it right,” he added.
Also joining the cast for the Netflix film is Cynthia Erivo, while Dermot Crowley has reprised his role as detective Martin Schenk.
Serkis, who has played a number of darker characters, said his role as twisted billionaire David Robey, who secretly uses surveillance technology to manipulate and kill people, was one of his most sadistic yet.
He told PA: “I actually really did not want to play this character because its right down there… plumb the depths.”
“But I actually had to take a step back and go, ‘That is why you act, that is why I love acting, when you’re challenging not only the audience but yourself’.
“And actually, what I wanted to really fully understand was his relationship to technology and therefore humanity’s acceptance of technology to the degree that we have.
“We are so willing to give power to our computers, our laptops, our phones, our devices. We know that we’re being hacked, we know that we’ve been observed, we know that we’re being surveilled.
“And when you have someone who can then manipulate that and also someone who is a very lonely, isolated character, who has an axe to grind because he hates hypocrisy. When you have people who really feel that they are justified in going out there to cause havoc – that’s dangerous.
“I think the world of the internet obviously can be used for the most incredibly positive things, but (also) offers up the platform for real horror.”
The actor, 58, revealed he had looked to online incel culture as a reference point when researching the role, adding: “I wanted to go further but obviously the dark web is a dangerous place to go, and once you enter into it’s one-way traffic and coming out of that can be very dangerous.”
Luther: The Fallen Sun will be available on Netflix from March 10.