Q&A and PREVIEW: Idris Elba on 100 Streets

WORTH A LOOK?: *****


WHEN: 8/11, out 11/11

Idris Elba didn’t need to be in small independent film 100 Streets, which he stars in and produces, but it was the writing that convinced him.

  • Read on for reasons including former rugby player Martin Offiah’s question from the audience

Director Jim O’Hanlon tells a premiere of the film at the BFI: ‘Idris doesn’t have to do this. There are many other things that would pay more money.’

Elba justifies his decision to the premiere audience which has just rapturously received the film: ‘The scripts aren’t out there. This was a real gem of a role.’

This was the first screenplay by former quantity surveyor and property developer Leon Butler who admits he was ‘thrilled to bits’ when Elba came aboard thanks to a financial advisor friend who introduced him to a leading casting director.

Butler (pictured centre below with O’Hanlon to his right) says: ‘All the characters in the film are people I know. The key thing for an independent film is to get the talent it needs and to raise money. Maybe I shouldn’t say this at the BFI but we didn’t get too much help from the industry. Idris was so committed to helping new talent and I owe him everything for agreeing to be in it.’


Former rugby player Martin Offiah is in the audience and asks Butler who was the inspiration behind Elba’s character? It’s a question Butler looks embarrassed to be asked and skirts over.

100 Streets is the story of a former England rugby captain who has alcohol and drugs problems and has cheated on his wife played by Gemma Arterton (about to star in Saint Joan at the Donmar). It’s a part that resonated with Elba who describes the change in public perception that his character faces.

Set in Chelsea and Battersea, there are also two other strands to the story.

Taxi driver George (played with heartbreaking masculinity and fragility by Charlie Creed-Miles) wants to adopt while drug dealer Kingsley (Franz Drameh, definitely one to watch) may have just found a way out of his predicament thanks to the intervention of a big-hearted actor played by Ken Stott (currently starring in The Dresser at the Duke Of York’s).

Compere June Sarpong praises the theme of ‘broken people trying to heal’.

Director O’Hanlon waxes lyrical about the film’s London setting and describes it as ‘the most beautiful city in the world’.

Particularly impressive is Franz Drameh as youngster Kingsley in the most touching of the film’s strands.

O’Hanlon describes shooting the key sex scene in the film as featuring ‘three sex scene virgins’ because it was something neither he, Elba nor Arterton had done on celluloid before.

We have to admit we had high hopes for 100 Streets but it far exceeded them. Its structure of intertwined city lives owes much to predecessors like Tales Of The City but the execution, which celebrates the diversity of the city, is both gritty and heartwarming.

The culmination of two of the three major storylines brought tears to our eyes.

  • Picture courtesy BFI
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