Elba was interviewed by actor and director Jon Favreau -- who directed him in The Jungle Book -- and gets candid about his busy schedule, which he calls "unhealthy." The in-demand actor is currently filming The Dark Tower, a fantasy epic based on the Stephen King series, and is also reprising his role as Heimdall in Thor: Ragnarok, which hits theaters in 2017. He also DJs on the side and has his own fashion collection with Superdry.
"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," Elba says. "I don't ever stop."
"Not because I'm greedy or anything, I'm always creating, debating with the part of my brain that is dormant," he continues. "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."
Elba, who also has a role in the highly anticipated Star Trek Beyond, admits he worries that audiences are seeing too much of him.
"I do worry sometimes about whether I'm going to burn out," he says. "Not burn myself out, but burn my art out, with audiences going, 'Ah, yeah, I've seen enough now, thanks very much.'"
Though we doubt that will happen any time soon. Before Elba was able to land high-profile gigs on the big screen, he made a name for himself in television, starring in the highly acclaimed HBO series The Wire, as well as BBC's Luther. Before that, Elba was a DJ.
"That was how I kept the lights on, basically," Elba recalls about his early gigs. "What happened was, 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 DJing; I just sort of ended up becoming more of a studio guy," he explains. "Then about five years ago, my career blossomed, but I really missed being out on the road, DJing. 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 DJing, 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."
Elba also says directing is definitely in his future. The actor recalls meeting Ben Affleck at a party, whom he was eager to talk to because of Affleck's successful transition into directing feature films.
"I was at a party not too long ago, and I ran into Ben Affleck. I'd had a bit to drink, and I was super excited to see him," Elba tells Favreau. "And the reason why I'm excited to see Ben is because Ben, like yourself, is an actor who can direct. And I've sort of been in development to direct my first feature film. ... And I say to Ben, [slurring] 'Oh Ben, hey, man. Bro, can you tell me ... I just, like, I think you're incredible.'"
"I'm like, 'I'm so interested in that transition. You're an actor, and you're directing, and I want to know what you had to go through and how you're getting people ...'" he hilariously recalls. "And at the time, he was like, 'Idris, just call me.' I didn't call him ever."
Elba recently debuted his new car-themed Discovery Channel series, Idris Elba: No Limits, and ET got the exclusive clip of the scary crash he got into in 2015 while competing against the pros in the Circuit of Ireland rally.