This self-realization is important to the 43-year-old because he is successful both as an actor and a musician. He won a Golden Globe for his portrayal of John Luther in the television series “Luther” and has also been nominated for an Emmy. He played Heimdall in “Thor” and the last installment of the “Avengers” and he is currently at work on the next “Star Trek” installment. He plays the difficult characters -- he might be the brutal drug dealer in “The Wire” or the peace activist in “Mandela.” Elba embodies the leadership personality and his presence can be intimidating. Pierce Brosnan recently even proposed Elba as the next James Bond. Rumors to that effect have been circulating for some time.
And then there’s Elba’s career as a musician. He has rapped with Jay-Z, written songs for Angie Stone and produced, remixed and composed his own work. This summer, Elba hits the turntables again as a DJ at Pacha Ibiza. He jetted from the set of “Star Trek” in Vancouver to the island to perform together with Bob Sinclar before flying directly back to the set.
Working as an actor and a musician: for many, one of the two is just a hobby – or marketing for the other.
All this raises the question as to what Elba really is. An actor? A musician? Is one career perhaps simply a marketing ploy for the other? “I know there is a stigma attached to actors who also make music,” says Elba. “But I have never let these prejudices bug me.” He loves music, and that’s precisely why he makes it. The same is also true for acting. At the moment he says he’s spending about 35 percent of his time as a musician and 65 percent as an actor. The only rule is that he doesn’t mix the two. “I’m inherently an actor,” says Elba. He doesn’t talk about music on the set and vice-versa. Then again, music also grants him stability. It’s grounding and it enables him to tune out. “Music has been a part of my life as far back as I can remember,” he says. “It’s my passion.” That’s why, Elba says, no one can accuse him of using it as a marketing gag.
He answers questions about his status just as self-confidently as he appears before the camera or in the DJ booth. “I consider myself to be an artist,” he says, with his primary job being acting and the second music. Actually, the discussion has little to do with Elba. “Because both come from inside, they come out of the same person.” He says he is proud of being able to choose between the two directions.