Get ready to suspend all disbelief and witness true acting talent, for, according to hollywoodreporter.com, Idris Elba has signed on to star as the Hunchback of Notre Dame for Netflix.
Golden Globe winner Elba will also direct and produce Hunchback under his Green Door production company, and will also be producing original music for the feature, which is being described as a “sonic and musical experience.”
The Hunchback of Notre Dame, a 19th century gothic romance novel originally written by Victor Hugo in 1831, follows Quasimodo, a hunchback, who tragically falls in love with the gypsy Esmeralda. Hunchback has been adapted to film more than seven times over the years, most notably the 1956 version starring Anthony Quinn and Gina Lollabrigida, and the 1996 Disney animated adaptation voiced by Tom Hulce and Demi Moore.
The Hunchback of Notre Dame is Elba’s latest foray into directing, having made his directorial debut this year with Sundance drama Yardie. He also created and will star and executive produce comedy Turn Up Charlie that was ordered straight-to-series by Netflix.
Michael Mitnick, the screenwriter of The Current War and The Giver, will write the modern day re-telling of the Victor Hugo classic. Fred Berger (La La Land) and Brian Kavanaugh-Jones (Midnight Special) will produce for Automatik, along with Elba and Green Door’s Ana Garanito.
After 88 years, Idris Elba broke the “Flying Mile” record in the UK, going over 180 mph in a Bentley to beat 1927’s Sir Malcolm Campbell.
“I’m absolutely elated to have broken the ‘Flying Mile’ at Pendine Sands,” Elba said. “It’s an honor to have taken on the challenge, and to successfully follow in the footsteps of the illustrious Sir Malcolm Campbell.”
The “Luther” actor is filming a four-part series for the Discovery Channel called, “Idris Elba: No Limits,” which will air in July.
One of the most exclusive clubs in the world just got a whole lot bigger.
In the latest and most dramatic step by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences (AMPAS) to diversify the overwhelmingly white and male institution, 683 industry professionals were invited Wednesday to join the nearly 90-year-old organization.
The group of invitees, which included Idris Elba, Brie Larson, John Boyega, America Ferrera, Michael B. Jordan and Chadwick Boseman, was touted as the academy’s largest and most diverse new class ever, more than double the 322 members invited last year.
The academy’s expansion is part of a diversity push that took on heightened urgency this year in the #OscarsSoWhite uproar, which reached a fever pitch in the run-up to this year’s awards telecast.
In January, facing blistering criticism over the lack of nominations for any actors of color for the second year in a row, academy President Cheryl Boone Isaacs announced sweeping changes aimed at doubling the number of women and minorities — then about 1,500 and 535, respectively — in the academy’s ranks by 2020. “The academy is going to lead and not wait for the industry to catch up,” Boone Isaacs said in a statement announcing the new initiative.
In an interview following Wednesday’s announcement, Boone Isaacs said that the large and diverse class is the result a concerted campaign to show that the academy is opening its arms to groups that have been underrepresented.
“What we found is that, as much we tried to get the information out there, it wasn’t penetrating in a way that we wanted it to,” Boone Isaacs said. “So we’ve asked all our members to be the ambassadors and pay attention to men and women who have particular skill levels in their area of expertise and get them encouraged and tell us their names so that we can make sure and reach out and connect.”
According to the academy’s figures, the new class is 46% female, bringing the representation of women in the organization from 25% to 27%. Forty-one percent of the invitees are people of color, bringing minorities’ share of total academy membership from 8% to 11%.
Other names on the list include actors Emma Watson, Tina Fey, Oscar Isaac, Tom Hiddleston and Ice Cube and directors Ryan Coogler, Julie Dash, Adam McKay and Patty Jenkins.
According to Variety.com, Academy Award-winning rapper and actor Common is set to star in a television adaptation of “Black Samurai.” The TV project is based on Marc Olden’s 1974 book series, which inspired the 1977 film of the same name. Wu-Tang Clan’s RZA is attached as an executive producer. Producers are working on selling the project to a distributor. Once a network, cable or streaming venue is attached, the search for a writer and director will begin.
“Black Samurai” follows the story of Robert Sand (played by Common) who is rescued by a Japanese samurai master and trained for seven years. After suffering from vicious racism in the military, and seeing his teacher and fellow samurai killed before his eyes by terrorists, Robert Sand becomes a killing machine, out to destroy the corrupt powers who had taken the lives of his friends.
Producer Andre Gaines acquired rights to the book, and is executive producing the potential series, making it the first television show developed under his Cinemation banner.
“Robert Sand is like black Jason Bourne. Black Samurai is one of the most unique, timely and fun experiences I’ve ever read, while at the same time tackling some serious subjects around race and diversity,” said Gaines. “With ‘John Wick 2’ and ‘Suicide Squad’ coming up, Common was an obvious choice for the role, and I’m thrilled to have him on board. I believe he’s the next great American actor.”
Along with Gaines and RZA, Wu Films’ Mitchell Diggs and Diane Crafford are also exec producing. “I could not be more pleased that such incredible talent is attached to Marc’s work,” said Crafford. “This series has always been one of my favorites and Robert Sand, the Black Samurai, is a fascinating character who I can’t wait to see brought to life on the screen.”
Speaking of RZA, Gaines commented, “There is a long tradition and storied relationship between hip-hop and martial arts. Having RZA and the WuTang brand on board to executive produce will validate the series even more and mobilize the fans.”
Aside from “Suicide Squad” and “John Wick 2,” Common’s acting career is on fire. He was recently seen in the latest “Barbershop” film and NBC’s “The Wiz Live” musical.
Showtime has ordered “Guerrilla,” a limited series from “American Crime” creator John Ridley, starring Idris Elba. The six-episode drama will be broadcast in the U.S. on Showtime and in the U.K. on Sky Atlantic.
Ridley will write the bulk of the episodes and direct the first two. A love story set in one of the most explosive political times in U.K. history, the miniseries tells the story of a 1970s London couple who liberates a political prisoner and forms a radical underground cell. The group targets the Black Power Desk, a true-life counter-intelligence unit within Special Branch dedicated to crushing all forms of black activism. Though set against a backdrop of social upheaval and activism, the story focuses on the relationship between the two characters at its center.
“Guerrilla” will be co-produced by Fifty Fathoms and ABC Signature, and will begin production in London late this summer.
“We’re excited to partner with our friends at Sky to bring a fascinating and unexplored story spearheaded by John and Idris, two major creative talents at the top of their game,” said Showtime president and CEO David Nevins. “Guerilla will surely keep our audience at their edge of their seats.”
Elba will serve as executive producer through his Green Door Pictures with Ridley. Patrick Spence and Katie Swinden of Fifty Fathoms, Tracy Underwood of ABC Signature and Michael McDonald of Stearns Castle will also exec produce.
Ridley extended his overall deal with ABC Studios in January for three years. His “American Crime,” which ended its second season last month on ABC, received 10 Primetime Emmy Award nominations last year for season one, with star Regina King winning for outstanding supporting actress in a miniseries or movie. In 2014, Ridley won the Academy Award for best adapted screenplay for “12 Years a Slave.”
“I am both humbled by and impressed with Idris’s passion toward bringing this story to life,” said Ridley. “I share his commitment for populating the culture with driven and complicated people of color, and believe we have great partners on the producorial level, and with our broadcasters Sky Atlantic and Showtime.”
Elba is a four-time Emmy nominee whose TV credits include “The Wire” and “Luther.” He was nominated for a Golden Globe award for his work in last year’s Netflix feature film “Beasts of No Nation.” His upcoming films include “Star trek: Beyond” and “The Dark Tower.”
“It’s been a long time desire of mine to collaborate with Mr. Ridley and his work here is nothing short of a masterclass in character building and story-telling,” Elba said. “TV is in for a treat.”
According to Variety.com, last night at the 2016 Spirit Awards, which celebrate and honor independent films, “Beasts of No Nation” actors Idris Elba and Abraham Attah both won in their respective supporting and leading actor categories.
For the Ghanian Attah, playing the child soldier trained by Elba was his first acting role. Elba, though not nominated for an Academy Award this year, won the Screen Actors Guild award for his part in “Beasts of No Nation” as well.
Additionally, “Tangerine”‘s Mya Taylor took home the supporting actress award for her performance as a transgender sex worker. “I came from almost nothing,” a beaming Taylor said from the stage following a standing ovation. “My life did a total 360.” “Tangerine” was shot entirely on an iPhone by director Sean Baker.
A full list of winners (in bold) and nominees follows below:
Just as #OscarsSoWhite has become a cause cé·lè·bre here in the USA primarily, across the pond, in the UK, the picture for actors and directors of color isn’t exactly rosy either. By now, I think we’re all familiar with the struggles of black talents in the UK, with the likes of Lenny Henry, Adrian Lester, Sophie Okonedo, David Oyelowo, and others vocalizing their frustrations with the lack of opportunity for black actors in the UK, and their having to go elsewhere (the USA specifically) to find work – a “trend” that many on this side of the pond frown upon, arguing that it effectively means that there’s even more competition for a limited number of opportunities.
Now “Luther” star Idris Elba is also speaking out, although he’s taken his protest (if you will) all the way to the UK parliament, where he formally spoke to the members Monday, on the lack of diversity across British television, and its effects on talented black Brits like himself who are essentially forgotten. In his speech, he accuses the industry’s executives of not living in the real world. He argued that British television is at risk of not properly reflecting society, emphasizing that black actors in the UK are struggling to progress, especially when compared to black actors in the USA.
“People in the TV world often aren’t the same as people in the real world. And there’s an even bigger gap between people who make TV, and people who watch TV. I should know, I live in the TV world. And although there’s a lot of reality TV, TV hasn’t caught up with reality,” Elba said, adding: “Change is coming, but it’s taking its sweet time.”
Watch some of his speech below (to read the full speech, Channel 4 transcribed it in its entirety here):
Jussie Smollett will host the eighth season of the public television show AfroPoP: The Ultimate Exchange.The star of the hit FOX TV showEmpirewill emcee the popular show about contemporary art, life and culture across the African Diaspora as it premieres on Martin Luther King, Jr. Day, Monday, January 18, at 8 p.m. ET/5 p.m. PT onWORLD Channel.
Smollett will also be seen in the new WGN thriller Undergroundin 2016. The acclaimed entertainer is also involved in numerous humanitarian pursuits, sitting on the boards of the Black AIDS Institute, Artists for a New South Africa and the RuJohn Foundation.
Previous hosts of AfroPoP include Idris Elba, Anika Noni Rose, Wyatt Cenac, Gabourey Sidibe, Anthony Mackie and Yaya DaCosta.
“AfroPoP’s engaging, real-life tales add to the collection of rich Black stories that audiences are clamoring for and I wanted to be a part of bringing them to national attention,” said Smollett.
British actors Idris Elba and David Oyelowo received a high honor from their queen.
On Tuesday (December 29), both actors made Queen Elizabeth’s annual New Year’s honor list. Elba, who received a Golden Globe nomination for his work in the Netflix original film “Beasts of No Nation” and BBC’s “Luther”, was humbled by the honor.
“Awards and honors come in all shapes and sizes and all as significant as the other. But this is beyond special as it comes from Queen and country, and I couldn’t be more proud for receiving this right now. What a year. On me head son!” Elba said in a statement.
Oyelowo was also honored for his services to drama, found the honor to be heartfelt. Long before his role as Dr. Martin Luther King in the Ava DuVernay directed film “Selma”, an 18-year-old Oyelowo received a grant from Prince Charles’ charity the Prince’s Trust, which allowed him to join a youth theater production his family couldn’t afford.
“To be honored by the Queen in this way having been aided by her son’s charity feels like a beautiful full-circle moment.”
BBC America has finally the much-anticipated return date for “Luther” starring Idris Elba – a one-night 3-hour special event on Thursday, December 17, 9pm ET.
I would say that this puts it head-to-head with Shonda Rhimes night on ABC (“Scandal” at 9pm and “How to get Away With Murder” at 10pm); but both shows should be on by December 17, leaving “Luther” with likely little competition that night.
Here’s the story breakdown for those who haven’t kept up with the series, courtesy of the press release: Struggling to cope with his own demons after losing so much, it seemed normalcy would always elude the emotionally impulsive detective. Teflon tough, even the strongest couldn’t endure what Luther has seen and been through. Hunting London’s most depraved criminals forced him to tap into the dark recesses of his mind, revealing sides of himself that would horrify most. The heartbreaking loss of his wife to a brutal murderer and his inner-circle of colleagues turning on him in a witch hunt weren’t enough to keep him away from the job. But watching his most trusted colleague and friend, Detective Sergeant Justin Ripley, die in his arms after getting caught in the crossfires of a case, finally pushed him over the slippery slope he’s always towed. A forbidden connection with serial-killer, Alice Morgan, offered him a somewhat skewed version of a happy ending and he took it.
And here’s what’s coming in the December 17 special: This time we find Luther on a leave of absence from the police force, laying low in a rundown cottage. A visit from colleagues, Detective Chief Inspector Theo Bloom and Detective Sergeant Emma Lane, brings a shocking piece of news that draws him back to London in search of the truth. At the same time, a gruesome cannibalistic serial killer has struck the city, eating body parts as he goes. With a trail of clues leading from one crime scene to the next, Detective Superintendent Unit Martin Schenk and his team must work out the twisted logic that connects each victim. But this murdering mastermind is more than a match for Schenk’s police, outsmarting them at every step. It’s not long before Luther makes his triumphant return to the Bullpen, determined to capture the killer before another mutilated body joins the mounting pile. But he’s dogged at every turn by ghosts from his past. Isolated and volatile, it will take every fiber of Luther’s being to keep it together.
“I think there were bigger challenges when he lost his wife and his best friend,” Elba says in a press statement. “That was a huge pinnacle and something that it took him a long time to get over. And in this [special] there is something similar that happens to him that is definitely traumatic. I think Luther goes back just because he can’t stay away from it for too long. Ultimately, because he’s a protector, [he] just wants to be able to fix what he can see other people won’t be able to…”
Idris Elba has garnered both Emmy and Golden Globe nominations for his role as DCI John Luther, with a Golden Globe win in 2013.
Written and created by Neil Cross and directed by Sam Miller, the “Luther” special also stars Laura Haddock as Megan Cantor, a mysterious woman from Luther’s past, John Heffernan as the sadistic cannibal Steven Rose, Patrick Malahide as George Cornelius, an old school gangster, and Michael Smiley returning as computer whiz Benny Silver.