13 Best Idris Elba Movies and TV Shows (2024)

Soumya Nair

Written by Soumya Nair

Updated On January 3, 2024

idris elba
Idris Elba movies and TV shows

Idris Elba is a man of many talents. If you have only known him through Idris Elba movies and TV shows, let us tell you, apart from being an award-winning actor, Idris Elba is a professional kickboxer, an R&B singer, and an outstanding DJ who goes by the name DJ Big Driis. If you are not aware of his works you might recall him from the biopic movie Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom. 

Though we are a bit disappointed he won’t be our next James Bond after much speculation and ugly debates, the actor himself decided against the role when the discussions online became racist. He is one of the most successful actors of color in Hollywood like Eddie Murphy and Chris Tucker

While the actor has a wide range of projects under his belt, we are taking a look at his best works to date. 

Beasts of No Nation (2015)

Beasts of No Nation
Rotten Tomatoes Rating91%
Release Date16 October 2015
Directed ByCary Joji Fukunaga

This is one of the most underrated Idris Elba movies. Beasts of No Nation saw the actor playing the villainous character of a commandant who trains and recruits children to use them as weapons during a civil war. The actor was nominated for various awards and won the Independent Spirits Award and Screen Actors Guild for his role.

The plot revolves around a young boy named Agu who runs away from his home and is forced to become a child soldier. The movie might be difficult to watch for some viewers as it has not a bit shied away from portraying the brutality of civil war. 

The Harder They Fall (2021)

The Harder They Fall
Rotten Tomatoes Rating88%
Release Date22 October 2021
Directed ByJeymes Samuel

This Idris Elba movie showcased what an all-black cast looks like in its full glory. The Harder They Fall stars Jonathon Majors, Zazie Beetz, RJ Cyler, and Edi Gathegi among others. Elba played the character of the cool bad guy, Rufus Buck who isn’t afraid to shed some blood for his gang. 

Rufus killed the father of Nat Love when he was young and since then Nat has sworn to get revenge on Rufus. Elba rocked the character of a notorious cowboy and it is evident that the actor enjoyed portraying Rufus on screen. The Harder They Fall is one of the Idris Elba movies that should not be missed.

Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom (2013)

Mandela Long Walk to Freedom
Rotten Tomatoes Rating62%
Release Date3 January 2014
Directed ByJustin Chadwick

Mandela Long Walk to Freedom is a biopic on South Africa’s most prominent leader and political activist, Nelson Mandela. The movie is hands down one of the most realistic Mandela biopics we have come across to date. Elba convincingly played the calm yet powerful man who had way more suffering yet managed to stay strong for his people.

The movie covered Nelson Mandela’s life from his childhood to his harsh life in prison for 27 years and his wife Winnie’s struggles with authority. Elba was nominated for the Golden Globe Award in the Best Actor category. 

Hijack (2023)

Rotten Tomatoes Rating87%
Release Date28 June 2023
Directed ByJim Field Smith

Hijack is the recent Idris Elba series about the nail-biting journey of a hijacked plane. The series stars Elba as Sam Nelson, an arch-negotiator. The tension between the hijackers and Nelson will keep you on the edge and will have you sympathize with the passengers. 

The series is set to make a comeback with season 2 and fans are curious if Idris Elba will reprise his role of Sam Nelson. When asked about the same, the actor expressed his interest in being a part of Hijack Season 2 so we can expect positive news.

Molly’s Game (2017)

Molly’s Game
Rotten Tomatoes Rating82%
Release Date25 December 2017
Directed ByAaron Sorkin

Molly Game 2017 is based on the true story of a young and talented Olympic-class skier, Molly Bloom, played by Jessica Chastain. It also stars Michael Cera, Kevin Costner, Samantha Isler, and Jeremy Strong. After encountering a serious injury Molly can no longer pursue her skiing. She leaves for New York for a break and works as an office manager where she gets involved in poker games. One thing leads to another she opens her underground poker community which gets raided by the FBI. 

Molly has no one to turn to other than her lawyer Charlie Jaffey, played by Idris Elba. The chemistry between the two created an undeniable tension on screen but the characters decide to keep it professional. Charlie soon discovers that there is more to Molly’s life than what the tabloids are printing about her and this makes him want to protect her more.

Luther (2010)

Rotten Tomatoes Rating88%
Release Date17 October 2010
Created ByNeil Cross

Luther is a British crime drama that aired from 2010-2019. This one is among the dark and gloomy Idris Elba movies and TV shows where he plays the titular character. Luther is a dedicated Detective Chief Inspector whose dedication to his profession sometimes gets unhealthy and obsessive.

Once you enter Luther’s world, you can’t help but look at your day-to-day life through his eyes of suspicion. The red tie, grey coat, and shirt became an iconic attire associated with the character. His dilemma between what is good as per the law and what is good morally will have you sympathize with Elba’s character.

Luther: The Fallen Sun (2023)

Luther The Fallen Sun
Rotten Tomatoes Rating68%
Release Date24 February 2023
Directed ByJamie Payne

Luther: The Fallen Sun is the continuation of the hit series Luther and the actors reprised their respective roles. Idris Elba once again impressed the audience as the disgraced but brilliant titular detective. John Luther had a hard time in prison and successfully escapes. This time Luther has to use his skills to bring down a gruesome psychopath criminal. But the task is not easy for him as an escaped prisoner himself.

The movie did well with the cinematography bringing out a Gotham-esque gloomy London. Forget about James Bond, Idris Elba has created his version of a classic detective, which is John Luther.

The Wire (2002)

The Wire
Rotten Tomatoes Rating94%
Release Date2 June 2022
Created ByDavid Simon

The crime drama television series The Wire was Elba’s first major stepping stone towards global stardom. The show is about America and its institutions, be it political, a cop, or even a drug dealer. Though the series did not perform well during the time of release, later it was often cited as one of the best series to have aired on television. 

Elba’s character of Russel ‘Stringer Bell’ is still considered one of his best works among all the Idris Elba movies and TV shows. Stringer Bell is a street-smart character with huge aspirations who is willing to go to extreme extents to turn his dreams into reality.

The Jungle Book (2016)

The Jungle Book
Rotten Tomatoes Rating94%
Release Date15 April 2016
Directed ByJon Favreau

There’s no doubt about Elba’s acting skills but if he was to ever focus just on his voice acting he would be leading that industry and that’s the magic of his distinctive voice. The actor has lent his voice to various characters but his voice as Shere Khan from the children’s classic The Jungle Book remains iconic to date.

His rumbling voice with the menacing nature of Shere Khan sends a chill down the spine of viewers whenever the character appears on screen. The calmness in his voice somehow feels threatening and warns against the upcoming dangers. The movie also features Lupita Nyong’o, Neel Sethi, Bill Murray, and Scarlett Johansson as voice actors. 

The Suicide Squad (2021)

the Suicide Squad
Rotten Tomatoes Rating90%
Release Date15 April 2016
Directed ByJon Favreau

How rare is it to have an anti-hero movie? The Suicide Squad was released in 2021 and is the sequel to Suicide Squad released in 2016. The whole cast was repeated for the sequel except Jared Leto who was not a part of the sequel for some unrevealed reasons. 

The Suicide Squad works more as a reboot of the original Suicide Squad. While the first movie earned good money at the box office, its reviews were highly negative. The Suicide Squad aimed to fix what the previous part did and was successful.

Part of the anti-hero squad, Elba plays the character of Bloodsport. He is the responsible leader of the group filled with crackheads portrayed by Margot Robbie, John Cena, Joel Kinnaman, and Viola Davis. The character has a humorous side that feels more like trauma sharing but is sure to crack you up if you have a thing for dark humor.

Concrete Cowboy (2021)

Concrete Cowboy
Rotten Tomatoes Rating80%
Release Date2 April 2021
Directed ByRicky Staub

Concrete Cowboy is about the bond between a father and his son. Nothing unique right? But certain elements make the movie stand out. The plot is set in a cowboy community of black people who try to survive in a racist world. 

Elba plays the character of Harp, who has an estranged relationship with his 15-year-old son, Cole. The young boy has to face the harsh realities of the world, like poverty and racism. The movie realistically touches on the lesser-discussed topic and serves as an eye-opener for society. The movie deserves to be on the list of best Idris Elba movies for its storyline and the perfect plot execution.

Thor (2011)

Rotten Tomatoes Rating77%
Release Date15 April 2016
Directed ByJon Favreau

The movie that started the multiverse series of MCU. Elba played the character of Heimdall, the all-seeing god in Asgardian. Sadly he had to face some racist backlash from people who did not want to see a black actor playing a god. But the makers not only went ahead with Elba but also reprised his role for the upcoming Marvel movies

Pacific Rim (2013)

Pacific Rim
Rotten Tomatoes Rating72%
Release Date12 July 2013
Directed ByGuillermo del Toro

The 2013 release is a sci-fi alien movie starring Elba, Charlie Hunnam, Rinko Kikuchi, Charlie Day, and Diego Klattenhoff. The plot begins when a monstrous sea creature, Kaiju, leads to a war between mankind and sea creatures. To save the world from an apocalypse, an unlikely duo of a former pilot and a trainee are forced to join hands. Will they become the saving force of mankind or is the end near?


It is not often that we see actors like Idris Elba in mainstream films. Idris Elba movies and TV shows blur the line between fiction and reality and all the credit goes to his skills. So let’s raise a toast to this amazing actor while we wait for more of his works in the future.

Author: Soumya Nair

Soumya Nair is an entertainment industry enthusiast who loves to write and bring in all the gossip and news to everyone interested. She always make sure to keep a keen eye on everything that goes behind the glam and glitter of the industry.

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