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Betcha Forgot Idris Elba Was in These TV Shows & Movies

Allie Gemmill is an avid writer, cinephile, Ravenclaw, and pizza enthusiast. She regularly writes on film and television with a special focus on women’s involvement & influence in Hollywood. Additionally, she has bylines at Bustle, Keyfr...

#1/13:

Time to binge-watch

Image: Getty Images/Design: Ashley Britton/SheKnows
#1/13:

Time to binge-watch

Today is a truly special day, arguably one of the highlights of the calendar year because on this day, we celebrate Idris Elba. On the occasion of the release of his latest film, The Mountain Between Us, it's only right we look back on the roles Elba took that helped propel him to the place of international bae status he enjoys today. 

Yes, he's a gifted actor no matter which way you slice it. You want a good performance in a biopic? Pop Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom into your DVD player to watch Elba play the beloved South African activist and president. Perhaps you're looking for a stoic hero in a cartoonishly colorful world. That sounds like his performance as the all-seeing Heimdall in Thor all over. Or maybe, just maybe, you want a solid adventure and are craving seeing Elba get tough in films like Pacific Rim and Prometheus. Am I right?

With 84 credits in film and television on his IMDb résumé, there's clearly a hefty portion of Elba's body of work many folks haven't seen yet, and that's just a crying shame. So before you can enjoy those films, it's only right that you take a look at the roles he took before he truly broke out into the mainstream. Let's take a moment to appreciate those little-known roles, shall we, as we raise a glass to the actor whose body of work is so bountiful.

#3/13:

'Obsessed'

Screen Gems
#3/13:

'Obsessed'

Remember that time Elba and Beyoncé Knowles starred in a movie together? Yeah, you should remind yourself of that with the very excellent sexy thriller Obsessed.

#4/13:

'28 Weeks Later'

20th Century Fox
#4/13:

'28 Weeks Later'

Elba made a camo-clad appearance in the zombie thriller 28 Days Later, and while he's more of a supporting character here, he does leave a strong impression.

#5/13:

'Daddy's Little Girls'

Lionsgate Home Entertainment
#5/13:

'Daddy's Little Girls'

Elba is the lead in this touching Tyler Perry drama about a working-class father trying to gain sole custody of his daughters. It's some of Elba's best work, done just as he was on the cusp of truly breaking out into the mainstream, and with Perry at the helm, it's a tearjerker too.

#6/13:

'The Unborn'

Rogue Pictures
#6/13:

'The Unborn'

In the horror film The Unborn, Elba plays a priest trying to help a young woman be free of the demon that has been haunting her family for years. It doesn't go according to plan, as you can see in the photo here in which his character appears to be possessed.

#7/13:

'The Gospel'

Screen Gems
#7/13:

'The Gospel'

This indie film saw Elba playing Reverend Charles Frank in a story about a young gospel preacher carrying on his father's legacy in the church.

#8/13:

'Prom Night'

Screen Gems
#8/13:

'Prom Night'

In the remake of this 1980's B horror film, Elba starred as a detective working to find one young woman's murderous stalker before the stalker finds her.

#9/13:

'Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance'

Sony Pictures Entertainment
#9/13:

'Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance'

It's wild to believe, but at one time, Elba starred opposite Nicolas Cage, and no, Elba wasn't really the star of the film. It didn't hurt that he was a handsome gun-slinging son of a gun in Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance.

#10/13:

'This Christmas'

Screen Gems
#10/13:

'This Christmas'

Elba plays Quentin, a jazz musician, in this Christmas-y family tale about a very disparate family coming together for the holidays and finding harmony and unity once more.

#11/13:

'The Human Contract'

#11/13:

'The Human Contract'

Elba appears in this erotic thriller from writer and director Jada Pinkett Smith as the best friend of the film's protagonist. Definitely tune in for Elba and stay for the dramatic twists.

#12/13:

'Luther'

BBC
#12/13:

'Luther'

The hit BBC drama is entering its eighth season with Elba at the helm as DCI John Luther, a beyond-brilliant detective who finds himself in some morally and emotionally complex situations.

#13/13:

'The Big C'

Showtime
#13/13:

'The Big C'

Elba had a brief recurring role on the short-lived Showtime dramedy The Big C as Lenny, a fellow painter who has an affair with the show's protagonist, Cathy. 

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