Why 'Beast' star Idris Elba is cool in a crisis

The epitome of uber-cool in shades and a brilliant white t-shirt, Idris Elba has revealed he was perfectly cast for his latest film, the survival adventure Beast. His character is tested to the limit by a giant marauding lion – but, personally, Elba always plays it cool in a crisis.

Talking about the dangers facing his character – including the much-publicised scene where he punches the lion – Elba admitted “I’m really not the kind of personality who panics in a crisis. I’ve been in situations where, if you panic, you just make the wrong decision.

Beast is in UK cinemas from Friday, 26 August.

Video transcript

FREDA COOPER: In the film, Idris, your character, Nate, is-- he's pretty resourceful. And he is up against it quite a lot. How good would you say you are in a crisis?

IDRIS ELBA: In a-- you know, actually, I'm really not of the personality that likes to panic in a crisis, because panic-- I've been in situations where you panic and you just make the wrong decision in that scenario, I would say that Nate is very much-- he's a resourceful guy because he's a doctor, but the very-- I don't think anyone is resourceful enough to fight a lion. If a lion like that is chasing you, what do you do? You know, I think he does the right thing.

It's just he stays as calm as he can be, and he stays protective of his fold. And that's like, you know, what I would do.

FREDA COOPER: You do seem to have a tendency to put your actors in danger. I'm thinking of films like "Everest" and "The Drift." Is that something that's ever actually got in your way of getting the actor that you wanted for a movie? Perhaps, they weren't very good with water or heights.

BALTASAR KORMÁKUR: No, actually, I've been very lucky when it comes to getting actors into my movies, but-- and I do think a lot of actors like to be challenged. And even an actor on "Everest" who just wanted to quit because it was nervous and didn't like it, you know, like the heights, and the experience, and the lack of oxygen, and all that. He-- and I said, just stay with me. We'll pull through. And he came to it for the last day and thanked me. That was the biggest adventure of his life.

So I think people like to challenge themselves. They don't always want to. And they're very happy when they've done that and come out of it the right way. I don't--

FREDA COOPER: You're not going to tell me who that was, are you?

- No, I'm not.

[LAUGHTER]

FREDA COOPER: I wondered how it feels to be the man who made the film where Idris Elba punches a lion. Well, it's a first for both of us, I'm sure. You know, I'm very proud of making this film, you know, having made this film. And I think we have to come to that place where there is a mano a mano between a lion. And you can't have an interest on a lion and not having them at some point after going up against each other.

And he's also played-- played cats before himself, you know? So there was-- so famously in "Jungle Book," right?

FREDA COOPER: [INAUDIBLE] .

- Yeah.

- Yeah, that's--