Idris Elba shares his toughest challenge directing a film for the first time 3 years ago

Idris Elba shares his toughest challenge directing a film for the first time

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He's an actor, a DJ, a rapper, but Idris Elba is now stepping into the director's chair


Yardie, Elba's first feature film behind the camera, is in cinemas August 31. The movie tells the story of D, a young man haunted by the murder of his brother. D leaves Kingston, Jamaica for London to embark on a bloody, explosive quest for retribution.

Acting is a tough gig, even if you happen to be Idris Elba, but directing a film is a considerable step up. Speaking on JOE's hit interview podcast Unfiltered with James O'Brien - guest hosted by David Lammy MP - the freshman director talked about the biggest challenge he faced helming Yardie.

"My ambition for the film is to make something that was as culturally specific as Goodfellas is to the Italian culture, but have a worldwide appeal," Elba said. "That's a tough thing to do. It's just tough. Just keeping that vision alive."


The film has been praised for its authenticity, particularly in the use of Jamaican patois, but there was a temptation to pull that back in favour of accents that a mainstream audience might find easier to understand, Elba said.

"There were moments where we felt maybe we should just water this down a little bit," the director explained. "And then making that decision and saying, 'Nope, let's keep it as it is. Let's not over cook it.' That was the toughest thing, keeping on to that vision."


The increased exposure of music from outside the Western pop world gave Elba confidence that cinema-goers would have no trouble following the dialogue in Yardie.

"In the three, four years developing that film, there's been a real upsurgence of West African music," Elba said. "These guys are singing in broken English, practically, and it's the biggest type of music now.

"It was encouraging, because if they can listen to Nigerian music and Ghanaian music and sing along, then a film with Jamaican dialects isn't gonna be too much of a challenge.


"We've been thanked for not diluting the film down, especially in our country."

Idris' new film Yardie is in cinemas August 31.