In an interview with Interview Magazine, Idris Elba dishes on his fear of burning out in Hollywood, why he wants to be more than a celebrity DJ and working on HBO’s The Wire.
His fear of burning out:
I don’t want to sound ungrateful or anything, but I sleep less, I’m constantly thinking, I’m constantly multitasking, and I really don’t know what the effects are going to be when I’m older. I don’t ever stop. Not because I’m greedy or anything, but I’m always creating, debating with the part of my brain that is dormant. Wondering how I can move in and create a bit more space and take a bit more time. But it’s almost like the more I achieve, the more capacity I have to achieve. I do worry sometimes about whether I’m going to burn out. Not burn myself out, but burn my art out, with audiences going, ‘Ah, yeah, I’ve seen enough now, thanks very much.’
On being a TV actor and working on HBO’s The Wire:
I had moved to America a few years earlier. I had to get a job. And this character came about, and I jumped straight in. And it was like, “Today we’re doing this scene in this part of this story line in this part of this world.” You don’t have the luxury like you do in films to do one scene per day. But what kept the quality control up was that the writing was so phenomenal. “
How DJ’ing was his first career and still remains a passion today:
….once I got The Wire, my life changed. I couldn’t DJ as much and I couldn’t take it seriously because my career as an actor was just getting to a place where I was finally making it in America. I wanted to be on American TV so much. I didn’t park DJ’ing; I just sort of ended up becoming more of a studio guy. I had a bit more money and I could buy every little piece of equipment and drum machine that had just come out—I’ve got quite a collection now—and I continued to collect music. Then about five years ago, my career blossomed, but I really missed being out on the road, DJ’ing. So I started picking up gigs here and there, and what occurred to me really quickly was that I was going to water down my passion for DJ’ing, because the type of gigs I was getting were celebrity DJ work, and that just didn’t sit right. So I made a decision about five years ago to really do it properly, to do it at that level I had never done it, but take it seriously and not ride the coattails of being an actor. It took a while because I had to take my time to introduce myself into that world: doing remixes, being taken seriously …