Throughout his career, Idris Elba has become one of the most esteemed actors in the business thanks to his distinguished good looks, his natural air of authenticity and charm, and his commitment to weaving the full fabric of his characters in his performances. And his ability to master his character’s accents is truly out of this world.
That talent has come in handy yet again with his latest role in Concrete Cowboy. The film is based upon the real-life community of city riders in Philadelphia, and Elba spent some quality time in the City of Brotherly Love training on horseback and learning to speak with a local accent.
The movie was also shot on location in the city and features some real-life riders from the region, so Elba had everything he needed to put on yet another master class in local linguistics for Concrete Cowboy.
Before the film arrives on Friday, April 2, here’s a look back at some of the other times Idris Elba showed off his incredible knack for accents.
Idris Elba has often been teased on talk shows about the first time he used an American accent on-screen, which happened on the mid-’90s British series Space Precinct. Elba appeared as an astronaut pizza delivery guy with a country western twang.
According to Elba, his own attempt at the accent from the shoot was apparently so bad that his dialogue was dubbed over with a voice actor. Luckily, the experience didn’t crash his career.
Elba worked hard to hone his American accent skills by moving to New York. His skills with the dialect soon became so strong that he managed to fool millions of adoring fans into thinking that he was actually from the United States with his career-changing role as the smooth criminal Russell “Stringer” Bell in the celebrated crime-drama series The Wire.
Elba’s impressive American accent has continued to come in handy in many of his other standout screen appearances, including his turns in American Gangster, Obsessed, and Molly’s Game.
According to writer-director Aaron Sorkin, Elba’s secret to keeping his adopted accent so on point in his movies is that throughout the production process, even on his breaks from shooting, Elba stays in character — vocally, at least.
Adopting an American accent | 0:00
Channeling his roots | 2:39
Out of this world | 4:45
Bringing it all home | 5:44
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Idris Elba’s Accent Game Is Beyond Impressive | Concrete Cowboy | Netflix
Sent to live with his estranged father for the summer, a rebellious teen finds kinship in a tight-knit Philadelphia community of Black cowboys.