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Idris Elba pretended he was actually American while auditioning for The Wire

The British star still landed the role despite deceiving the series creator

Maisie Harvey
Thursday 15 August 2019 10:43 BST
First trailer for Cats released

Idris Elba had to pretend to be from Brooklyn to land his breakthrough role as Russell “Stringer” Bell in HBO’s The Wire.

Speaking on web series Hot Ones, the Golden Globe winner said: “Alexa Fogel was a casting director that was really into seeing new talent. She said ‘I love you, I gotta bring you into this audition, but you have to promise that you can’t tell him you’re from East London.’”

Creator of The Wire David Simon had wanted to cast only Americans, feeling they were better able to relate the experiences of the characters and the Baltimore setting of the series.

However, Elba’s cover was blown in the fourth round of auditions, when asked directly about where he was from, and what it was like growing up.

“My parents told me not to lie—you gotta look someone in the eye and be honest.”

Despite the revelation the actor was from London he was still cast in The Wire, although not as Avon Barksdale, the character he had originally auditioned to play.

Idris Elba will next appear in Cats, due for theatrical release on 20 December 2019.

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