While Elba played the role of Heimdall with his expected aplomb, his shooting schedule was so tight that it caused cognitive dissonance. He had to shake off playing Mandela — a role he found to be dignified and edifying — to act against a green screen wearing fantasy armor for some of the reshoots on “Thor: The Dark World.” Elba admitted to some queasiness, saying: 

“[On set] I’m thinking: twenty-four hours ago, I was [Nelson] Mandela. When I walked into the set, the extras called me Madiba. I was literally walking in this man’s boots. [Within] six months, the crew, we were all so in love with this film we had made. I was him. I was Mandela, practically. Then there I was, in this stupid harness, with this wig and this sword and these contact lenses. It ripped my heart out.”

“Madiba,” for those who don’t know, was one of Mandela’s nicknames, taken from his Xhosa clan background. 

One can see Elba’s frustrations. As an actor, he clearly likes challenges, as well as opportunities to express emotions from the deeper chasms of the human experience. Fantasy action characters rarely provide those moments, focusing instead on visuals, costumes, and stunts. Is being thrown through the air on cables wearing a gold Viking helmet the same thing as acting? Elba doesn’t seem to feel that way, especially considering that Heimdall is but a supporting player in a broad fantasy story about a magical blonde bohunk with a hammer.

 Having just come off playing Nelson Mandela, let’s just say that Idris Elba’s work on Thor: The Dark World wasn’t exactly … edifying to him.  Read More