He's played a drug lord on The Wire and a corporate stiff on The Office; he's produced a track for Jay-Z and scored a Golden Globe nomination for his BBC series Luther. Now the 38-year-old London-born actor is cementing his action-star cred in this month's Thor. Fittingly, his tastes are as eclectic as his career choices.
"I'll play the sound-track from one film over another film. Movie-soundtrack mash-ups, man. You gotta see fuckin' Apocalypse Now and play the Moulin Rouge! soundtrack, man. Baz Luhrmann is a nutter, but he's got phenomenal music—and the crazy visuals from Apocalypse? You're like, 'Whoa, this is a bit nuts.'"
"Obviously I'm a champion of British television shows. The Inbetweeners. It's about adolescent kids, and the dialogue is so funny—toilet humor, but delivered so dry."
Last Music I Bought
"The other day, on my way back from Carnival in Trinidad, I bought a bunch of old-school reggae, Trojan and Studio One. I'm a lo-fi guy. They do 20 takes, and then the bass player might make one mistake or one harmony might be off, but they thought, 'Aw, fuck it. We'll keep it anyway.' It's timeless, man."
New Singer On My Playlist
"The latest new album I bought was Adele's 21, which is really, really good, but someone broke her heart, poor girl. I love her."
The DJs to Know
"In New York there's a big DJ culture—New York is, or was, like DJ-fucking-savvy. In the nineties, I remember going to early AM parties—DJ AM, rest in peace—and early Cassidy parties. And then, of course, Funkmaster Flex at the Tunnel back in the day. Funk was a beast, and Kid Capri, of course. And DJ Premier used to do a set here and there even though Gang Starr was killin' it then. Now I don't really get to see DJs as much, but I still like house, so Cedric Gervais in Miami is one of my favorites. I'm in London now, so I go to Ministry of Sound or Pacha and see who's spinning."
"Baltimore's got one of the most progressive dance scenes. When I was there, I definitely recorded a lot. I was really inspired, because a lot of extras on The Wire had studio shops in their bedrooms or in their basements and were local rappers or artists or DJs or beat-makers. I did a film called One Love years ago with Ky-Mani Marley. And just by being in that film with him, I was introduced to the music culture there. I found myself in Bob Marley's house. Everyone can go to his house—it's a museum—but when you've got one of his sons taking you around and telling you stories about his dad and how many girls he fucked in this bed, you're like, 'Wow.'"
Director I'd Kill to Work With
"When he was casting Amistad, and I was very close to playing Djimon Hounsou's role, Steven Spielberg sent the casting director a letter that said 'Tell Idris I'll see him again.' Cut to 2008 and I get a phone call: 'Steven wants to meet you.' 'What? What? Oh cool.' I sit down with Steven Spielberg for this long chat, and even though we didn't work together on whatever the fuck it was at the time, I just remember thinking, 'Wow, this is a filmmaker with really fresh ideas.' I felt like whatever he is going to put on the table is going to be up my street, you know?"
"I studied Happy Days, the Fonz. And if it wasn't the Fonz, it was Magnum in Magnum, P.I. And if it wasn't him, it was my man Huggy Bear in Starsky & Hutch. You think I'm joking, but especially in the seventies and eighties, American TV dominated English television. And then, of course, by the time hip-hop gets in the building we all felt like we were from Brooklyn, you know what I'm saying? So I can relate to the culture and the language in a way that even Americans probably can't know."
"I'm into documentaries more than fictional films. This is corny, but the last one I got excited about was Planet Earth, this beautiful documentary about the natural world. I love The Kid Stays in the Picture, the Robert Evans movie. Wicked, wicked. [Laughs] It reminded me of some of the shit I've done, man. Movies are such a vain industry, you just gotta have some nuts to get through it."