Skepta reveals how friend Idris Elba influenced his first foray into film directing

Pair previously shared their distaste for race discourse surrounding James Bond

Maira Butt
Wednesday 01 May 2024 16:28 BST
Idris Elba on Bond rumours

Skepta has revealed how his friend Idris Elba informed his new film project, Tribal Mark.

The short film, released in January this year is the 41-year-old Mercury Prize-winning musician’s first foray into movies and follows a Nigerian-born hitman working in London.

The “That’s Not Me” rapper had previously shared how speculation around a black James Bond figure had left him “bored”, and inspired him to create his own movie.

Elba was at the centre of theories around who would replace Daniel Craig in the spy movies, and said “disgusting” race discourse around the role had put him off.

But the star offered his expertise and guidance to Skepta’s new project, the pair having been friends for years – with Elba even appearing on the remix to Skepta’s hit song “Shutdown” in 2015.

“He’s made a couple changes and given us advice along the way,” the rapper told Variety.“One of the things he told us to do in the short always gets a reaction in the theater, so I’m actually happy that we listened to that.”

Asked whether he remembered the specific advice offered, the director said: “I can’t even tell you. There’s a specific beat, and every time everyone laughs and I’m like, ‘F***.’”

Pair worked together on short film Tribal Mark
Pair worked together on short film Tribal Mark (Getty Images)

Elsewhere in the interview, the Boy Better Know musician shared his future hopes for the movie.

“I hope that the next thing is the feature film. I want to do the first one, and then I want to step back so I can let another Black actor come and do it,” he said, revealing the name of the Oscar-winning actor who he’d love to take his place.

“We would love to have a fast forward of Tribal Mark that goes into the future of his life, and it’s Denzel Washington. I’m shouting out to Denzel.”

Skepta – who was born to Nigerian parents and raised in Tottenham, north London – told the BBC that the story was about the “dissociation of an immigrant living in the UK”, which is something he was able to relate to.

He described Tribal Mark as “an anti-hero character similar to James Bond… but more complex”, and compared the project to director Todd Phillips’ 2019 villain origin story, Joker.

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