Idris Elba Opens Up About Father's Death and Going Through a Midlife Crisis: 'I Wasn't Even Living Anymore'
By Antoinette Bueno
Idris Elba is getting candid about a difficult time in his life.
The 44-year-old actor covers the August issue of Esquire, and says the death of his father, Winston, had him spiraling through a midlife crisis. Winston died in 2013 after getting diagnosed with lung cancer that year.
"He was 72. Too young," Elba tells the magazine. "He had so much life in him. My old man wanted to do so much more. He just didn't get a chance."
"I got to a place where I wasn't even living anymore," he says of how he dealt with his grief. "I was becoming a robot with my work. I have no fear of jumping out of burning cars or out of buildings on set, but in reality, I couldn't run one hundred meters. I just felt out of touch with reality."
Elba got through his father's death by taking his memorable advice -- "[To] fear nothing. Do what you want to do, but be educated and intelligent and confident about it."
"I had forgotten what it is to feel that burn on your tongue, when your adrenaline is going so much and you're in fight or flight," he recalls. "I was like, I'll be tired when I'm dead. . ."
Elba named his now 3-year-old son, Winston, after his late father. The actor says he and his girlfriend at the time, Naiyana Garth, got to tell his dad they were expecting just seven days before his death. Elba's dad has clearly been a big influence on the British actor, and he says that Winston influenced his Golden Globe-nominated performance as Nelson Mandela in Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom.
"I'm glad my dad got to see that," Elba says of the film, recalling that his father said his depiction of Mandela reminded him of his own dad -- Elba's grandfather, Moses.
"It's funny you say that," Elba says he told his father, "because I was trying to be you."
These days, Elba has plenty on his plate, including the highly anticipated big screen adaptation of Stephen King's The Dark Tower. Elba admits to feeling some uneasiness about his Gunslinger role.
"I had a clash of conscience with my character," he shares. "In America, there's a real awareness of gun culture. I had to break down why he's good at shooting. We erred on the side of 'This is his tool. It's set in this world that's part of Stephen King's imagination, and it is what it is. . . .' I'll probably be crucified by the film company for even mentioning this."