Idris Elba Says 'Luther' Season 5 Is 'Particularly Gnarly,' Teases a Potential Movie For BBC America Show

If you need a man to play many faces, it's Idris Elba. He can play the warmonger, the survivor, the gangster or the political leader to free a nation. In a sea of so many characters, there is one role the British actor is particularly fond of—DCI John Luther on the acclaimed BBC America series, Luther.

"He always ends up being therapy for me because he's such a big character and he exercises all his demons," Elba told Newsweek. "I can scream, shout and let out a lot of energy. So it felt really good actually stepping back into Luther's shoes… In those few years, so much stuff has happened in my life. [It's] good stuff that's making my life more complex and rich. And so I got to play Luther and just dive into him, which was great."

There may be an opportunity for Elba to dive deeper into the character—like something that might appear on the silver screen—but he has to get through the rest of his ever-busy schedule first. In the meantime, fans get to watch Luther from the comfort of their couches, with Season 5 premiering Sunday at 9 p.m. ET.

Idris Elba Dishes on 'Luther' Season 5
Idris Elba appears as DCI John Luther in BBC America series, "Luther." The actor discussed what fans can expect to see in Season 5 of the show, which will premiere on June 2, 2019. Sarah Dunn/BBC America

You guys took a long break between Season 4 and Season 5. How did you prepare jumping back into the role with a new director [Jamie Payne]?

It starts with the script and the director. Jamie was a big fan of Luther's previous seasons. So he and I sat down many times while he talked through what he wanted to do with the show. Introspectively I got to listen to what he felt worked for the show, what things he wanted to see Luther do, what things he hadn't seen Luther do. So my preparation was really soaking in a lot of that—the ambition of the director and what he wanted to do and then apply. The script's really well written, so it was really just putting on the costume and getting involved.

Luther always gets the job done, but we never really know his intentions. How messy will things get this season?

It definitely gets messy. This season is particularly gnarly for him. I would say anyone close to Luther needs to watch their back. Just be careful if you hang out with that guy. This season very much has that feel to it. People are paranoid around Luther. They're worried for themselves, worried for him. It definitely gets tangled in the dramatic way we like to do on Luther. You see him getting involved in so many different angles and storylines. We didn't change that. We wanted to keep that about him.

What is it about Luther you enjoy the most?

He's a complex character. It's a character that allows me to really flex my dramatic wavelength. But he's smart. He's intuitive. He's instinctual. He's masculine. He's muscular. And it's not just muscularity in the narrative—he thinks big and he's like, "I'm gonna go for this." He doesn't second-guess himself. He makes some really big leaps of calculations in his head that are more oftentimes correct. He's just dynamic. He's kinda like Batman. He has that dark sense of self. He just wants to go for whatever he needs to go for. I like that in playing in character.

How's it going to work out for him with his new partner Sgt. Catherine Halliday​ [Wunmi Mosaku]?

I think his new partner is definitely a breath of fresh air for him, someone who really does care about the detective work. There's a real sense that she sort of hero-worships him but she also checks him. He cuts corners and she doesn't like that. So that's an interesting dynamic that we played.

How was your experience working with Mosaku?

I liked her very much. She's a great actor, and just really focused. She's quite fun as well. She's very funny and light-hearted. She plays quite serious roles, but when you speak to her in real life she's just very light-hearted and friendly and warm and funny. I really enjoyed working with her a lot.

Is there something, in particular, you're excited for fans to see this season on Luther?

First of all, I'm just thankful that we came back and the audience is really excited about seeing it come alive. I want them to just be able to enjoy what we did and go for the escapism in the way it was intended. I also want people to champion from this a film. There could be a film in development for us, and I just want people to expect that and go "Ok, yea man make this happen." I want people to enjoy it. It's a very dark show coming back and I'm excited for it.

You've played so many different roles over the course of your career. Do you have a favorite one?

I think my favorite type of role is one that people don't think I'm going to play. My favorite type of role is one that allows me to show a different side of myself. I like complex characters. I like good guys that act bad and bad guys that act good. I like people that have dilemmas. I like characters that really have to search their soul to do the right thing or do the wrong thing. I just like the complexity because my work is very varied from one extreme to the other. From gangsters to drug dealers to warlords, I enjoy that I have that. There's no form of "Oh Idris [is going to] play that, you know that." I like switching it up.

And now you're switching up again, this time to star in Suicide Squad.

Yes! This new superhero movie is a different type of size of role—and leading—compared to my part in Thor, which is exciting.

Is there a type of role you haven't done yet that you'd like to try?

I really want to do a romantic comedy. I haven't done that. I've done Daddy's Little Girls and there was a little bit of that in it, but a true to form romance comedy is one I'd love to get into. I haven't had that chance to do that.

Is there anyone, in particular, you'd like to work with on a romantic comedy?

No, no one particularly. Really it's more about the story, finding that great story that would move hearts with love and romance and all those feelings. But in terms of an actress, I can't think of any names right now. I just think doing a film like that would be the one.

You were in 28 Days Later and Prometheus, but you haven't really done horror have you?

I did one small role in a film a long time ago. No one ever saw it, so I ain't gonna tell you about it [laughs]. But yea, 28 Days Later was probably the most of it.

What do think about all these various genres starting to finally opening up more for writers, directors and actors of color? Black people were far, few and in between in a lot of movies—whether superhero or horror or whatever—but that seems to be changing.

It's a sign of the times. I've been in this game for a long time—nearly 30 years coming up now—which is so nice for me. But in that time things have changed, things have moved in different forms and directions. I've not only excited to see more people of color in front of the screen but behind the scenes as well. I'm excited to see more women in pivotal roles behind the camera. It was a male-dominated industry and having seen that change—at least over the three decades of my career—personally, I think it was inevitable. It was going to change. It had to change. I think it's great. There's a nicer balance. There's a nicer balance seeing culture on screen.

On top of the new season of Luther, you've also got Hobbs and Shaw coming up and Cats and a few green lights for films in 2020. And you're now also a professional DJ. How are you balancing all of this?

I have a really great team of people who help me manage, but all the actual work is divvied into time. While I'm acting, I'm not DJ'ing.

A lot of people were shocked to learn you even are a DJ, and here you are fresh off your first Coachella Music and Arts Festival performance.

I've been DJ'ing, in music for as long as I've been an actor, but it's not something I would speak about as much. Now I do. I speak about it. I'm more proud, more confident about my music and my DJ'ing. I spent a lot of time behind the scenes just trying to carve my second career as a musician DJ'ing so it's proper. So it's not corny, not like a gimmick. That way when people do find out, they go, "Oh, this guy's serious about this." I take this seriously. There are people in the music industry that go so hard just to get anywhere—Coachella is a big deal for them. That's how I wanted it to feel for me. You know, there are 24 hours in a day. That's a long time. So much stuff can happen in 24 hours if you spend the right amount of time doing it. It's quite common that people say, 'Oh I didn't know you do that," and I never know what to say. Before the best rapper in the world became the best rapper, he was in his bedroom doing this—writing, writing, writing. People didn't know about it until he came out, but he'll tell you, "I've been doing this my whole life."

Were you nervous performing at Coachella?

I was very nervous. It was my first time playing at Coachella. I play House. The House market in America, they don't really know me. They were like, "What's an Idris Elba? This will be interesting." People came wanting to see what I was gonna bring to the table, and I was nervous about that. I didn't want to disappoint them. But it was great. The energy was fantastic, everyone was out wilding. That stigma quickly moved on and people really enjoyed the set.

The sexiest man alive, @idriselba DJing @coachella. I HAVE SEEN IT ALL.

— Denny Directo (@DDirecto) April 14, 2019

How did that compare with DJ'ing the royal wedding?

That was equally nerving but in a different way. That's a friend and it was a family event, so it was a good vibe.

You're daughter Isan Elba became the Golden Globe's Ambassador this year and decided to use her platform to advocate for mental awareness. What was your reaction when she announced how she planned to direct her philanthropy?

I'm just so proud of her. The moment she got the opportunity to work with Golden Globes, she didn't take it as a vanity project. She was like, "I wanna use it to say something." And that's what they wanted her to do. They wanted her to voice whatever she stood for. She wanted to speak about mental health because she cares about people that have to go through that. She was bullied in school by someone she didn't understand why. And when she did understand it turned out that this person had mental health issues and he wasn't taking his meds. She felt sorry for him even though he was being really mean to her, destroying both of their lives, but he couldn't help it. She felt like he should have had someone to talk to and he shouldn't have felt like he had to lash out at someone just because he didn't have the outlet. So that was very touching to me because she took something that was negative and turned it into a positive, and used the world stage to do it. When you're looking at your kids—a 17-year-old girl at that—taking a stance for something so important, it's just heartwarming. I'm very proud of her. She's amazing. That's all you can wish for as a parent that you can look at your children and see that the parenting of mom and dad have paid off.