Idris Elba — things you didn’t know about the actor

Idris Elba at the premiere of "Luther: The Fallen Sun"wearing lime green jacket
(Image credit: Getty)

After rising to fame playing an American gangster in HBO's The Wire, Idris Elba has gone from strength to strength in his career. But it's not just acting he's good at, he has many strings to his bow as we've discovered...

Idris Elba trained at the National Youth Music Theatre

Idris’s full name is Idrissa Akuna Elba and was born in Hackney in London on 6 September 1972, His late father, Winston, was from Sierra Leone and his mum, Eve, is from Ghana. After leaving school at 16, Idris won a place in the National Youth Music Theatre, with a £1500 grant from The Prince’s Trust.

He's worked all sorts of jobs

While carving a career as an actor, he also worked in various jobs, such as tyre-fitting, bricklaying and also worked night shifts at Ford Dagenham, where his father also worked.

Luther Christmas 2018

Idris Elba as Luther.

His breakout role isn't what you'd expect

His first acting role was appearing in Crimewatch reconstructions, then popped up in BBC children’s show The Boot Street Band, before landing a role in 1995 in Victorian medical drama Bramwell, playing a thief called Charlie Carter.

He had a steady rise to fame

After receiving praise playing American gangster Stringer Bell in HBO drama series The Wire from 2002 to 2004, Idris then signed a deal to star as the lead role of BBC cop drama Luther, which first aired in 2010, making him a household name.

He's not just an actor... 

As well as acting, Idris also turns his hand to DJing, using the name DJ Big Driis, DJing in nightclubs at age 19. He’s also a hip hop and soul musician with his own record label, and has worked with Jay-Z and Mumford and Sons, and was the opening act for Madonna in Berlin during her Rebel Heart Tour.

He likes a laugh!

Idris is a massive fan of BBC One sitcom Only Fools and Horses, and always wanted to star in the show but never got an audition. He recently said he’d love to play Del Boy, bringing back the show with a modern twist.

He's a dad as well as a TV and movie star

He’s been married twice, first to make-up artist Hanne Norgaard, then to lawyer Sonya Nicole Hamlin. He has two children, a daughter, Isan, with Hanne and a son with his ex-girlfriend Naiyana Garth. 

He's got an OBE

He was awarded an OBE for services to drama in the New Year’s Honours. He also had a MOBO Inspiration Award under his belt, which he won in 2014 and was voted male ‘Rear of the Year’ in 2017!

Idris the action man!

He has taken up many a challenge for the Discovery Channel, training for and entering a professional kickboxing fight for Idris Elba: Fighter as well as breaking the land speed record on a beach in Wales by driving at 180mph and flying in stunt plane in an aerobatics display in No Limits.

Prince Harry and Meghan, The Duke and Duchess of Sussex kissing in a kitchen

Idris is friends with Harry and Meghan.  (Image credit: Netflix)

He's got royal connections 

Idris and his model wife Sabrina attended Prince Harry and Meghan Markle’s wedding in May 2018, rubbing shoulders with the likes of George Clooney. ‘It remains one of the highlights of my life,’ he says. ‘Harry’s a friend of mine. It was a beautiful experience like all weddings are.’

Frequently asked questions about the star...

How old is Idris Elba?

Idris Elba is 50, he was born on September 6, 1972

Is Idris Elba married?

Idris Elba married his wife Sabrina Dhowre Elba in 2019.

Does Idris Elba have any children?

Idris Elba has two children, a son and a daughter. 

Where was Idris Elba born?

Idris Elba was born in London. 

How tall is Idris Elba?

Idris Elba is 6ft 2 inches tall. 

Instagram: @idriselba

Twitter: @idriselba

We work hard to ensure that all information is correct. Facts that change over time, such as age, will be correct, to the best of our knowledge, at the time of the last article update.