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‘Is That Really Acting?’: Idris Elba Opens Up About the Catharsis He Experiences In Roles That Fans Adore

English actor Idris Elba burst onto the scene in the U.S. when he landed a role on the ’90s popular HBO series “The Wire.”

Since then he’s managed to keep audiences captivated with his roles, most of which cast him as a Black man navigating real-life issues to which many can relate.

Idris Elba (right) is among the new additions to “The Suicide Squad” sequel that hits theaters in August. (Photo: @idriselba/Instagram)

From his roles in “Daddy’s Girls” to “Luther,” to “Concrete Cowboy,” Elba brings male characters with complex backgrounds and emotional issues to the screen. He says the complexity and suppression of emotions in his characters are in part what draws him to them.

“The roles I take tend to have that complexity, and I enjoy diving into them, because, yeah this is therapy time,” said Elba when speaking with The Guardian newspaper. “A lot of times I read something in a script and I think, ‘I’m secretly dealing with that.’ “

The catharsis he experiences as he becomes intertwined with his characters has even led him to question his own acting abilities. 

“If you’re only dealing with certain facets of your own personality, is that really acting?” he questioned. “People sometimes tell me, ‘You were good in this or that role,’ and I think, ‘You don’t realize. I was dealing with that s–t for real. I definitely used work to exorcise demons, there’s no doubt about that.”

One of those issues Elba had to work through was his explosive anger. In early July, the “Suicide Squad” actor shared that his temper flare-ups even took a toll on his relationship with then-girlfriend Sabrina Dhowre Elba. “I know Sabrina and I early in our relationship, I was very stressed, I would have these massive anger tantrums,” he shared on his and Dhowre’s podcast “Coupledom.”

“She was like, ‘Who are you?’ ” Idris continued.

“And I was always the first to say, ‘Hey, if you’re not happy, just leave, just move,” Idris said. “Kind of like a male instinct, I don’t know. Sabrina and I both have strong personalities and typically it’s Sabrina who comes and says, ‘Hey, listen man, I don’t want to fight,’ ” he continued. “But I’ve been getting better at it recently but what happens is when I do it, I get nothing back, nothing. When she does it, I go, ‘Ok thanks baby.’ ”

While navigating strong emotions may have been a challenge early on, Elba proved to himself and Dhowre that he could change over the course of their relationship. In June 2019, the former “Sexiest Man Alive” married his longtime love in a Moroccan wedding.

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