Interview with Idris Elba on ‘John Luther’

Idris Elba as 'John Luther'

I have been busy this season but I have not forgotten about one of my favorite actors, Idris Elba and his hit television drama, ‘LUTHER’.  I really called this one last year. ‘Luther’ was previewed at the New York television Festival by BBC America.  As we all know Idris was on the hit television show, ‘The Wire’.  This season has a few new characters added to the  mix.

Thanks to BBC America, I am able to share with you a bit on where the writer of LUTHER, Neil Cross is taking the character and what Idris Elba thinks of his character John Luther.  I will be back with more on ‘Luther’ this season.

 BBC AMERICA Interview


DCI John
Luther’s life is never what you’d call straightforward. At the end of Luther,
we left him in a real mess. His adored wife, Zoe, was dead at the hands of his
best friend, poor tormented DCI Ian Reed. The gun that killed Reed was still
smoking in the hands of Alice Morgan – a psychopath who may be Luther’s worst enemy. Or who may be, y’know – something else entirely. Luther was bleeding.
The police were on their way. So what now?

Obviously, I
can’t tell you how we get Luther out of that particular predicament; but I can
tell you it wasn’t the way I was planning to do it when we faded out to the
peerless sound of Nina Simone pleading not to be misunderstood. There were many
reasons for this, but the most significant was that the BBC wanted to free me
up to tell bigger stories over a wider canvas.

So that’s what
we’ve got in the Luther sequel, bigger stories on a wider canvas. We’ve
got some familiar faces and some new faces. We’ve got twists and turns. We’ve
got bloodcurdling events on the streets of London. We’ve got fear and mayhem on
a city-wide scale. We’ve got killers who’ll make you want to check the doors
and windows are locked before you go to bed at night. And at the heart of it
all, we’ve got DCI John Luther – a man in ruins, but with a heart the size of
the moon. Bloodied and battered, but somehow still standing. And still doing
what he can.


DCI John Luther
is a dedicated copper, dazzling, possessed and sometimes dangerous. But Luther
has paid a heavy price for his dedication – his wife Zoe was brutally murdered
by Luther’s old colleague and former best friend Ian Reed. Luther is struggling
to accept the loss of his wife and to cope with an overriding sense that it was
his own obsessive dedication to his work and his immersion in the dark and
dreary world of crime that caused her death.

Idris reminds
us where we left things in the last episode before the start of the sequel:

“It was a
very dramatic climax and Luther is just a complete mess following the events of
last year’s series, he feels up against the whole world.”

“At the
start of the two new specials, we see a new unit formed – the Serious and
Serial Crime Unit headed up by DCU Martin Schenk (Dermot Crowley), a former adversary, you could call him my nemesis almost.”

“Schenk was a really popular character and I think the writer, Neil Cross, wanted to bring him back – well we all wanted him back. So it seemed a logical step to put him in a position where he can actually keep an eye on Luther.”

“The structure of the new unit is different from the previous unit. Luther is still
a DCI, but he’s a bit more of a team player now because he has to be, under
Schenk’s say-so.”

Idris goes on
to explain that it’s not such an unusual set up, as there was a real sense of a
meeting of minds with Schenk and Luther. Although, of course, in last year’s
series he investigated Luther:

“There seemed to be a bit of animosity from Luther at first, but ultimately Schenk is very good at his job and Luther respects that. I think that’s what propels their relationship, they really respect each other.”

The other big
relationship from last year’s series is DS Justin Ripley (Warren Brown):

“At the end of the last year’s series DS Justin Ripley is demoted to uniform and
forgotten as a Custody Sergeant, and I think John felt really guilty about
that. So we see him trying to fix that and making an effort to get his partner
back in the new unit. I think that John’s guilt is eased a little bit when he
sees Justin back on the team.”

“It shows Luther has a compassionate side, he does have a heart after all, something else we see more of this year. He’s tough and filled with a lot of demons, but he has absolutely got a heart. Definitely, and in the sequel his heartstrings are pulled even more because he’s lost a big part of his life. Luther has changed, he becomes a team player. In the sequel he’s got Schenk as his new boss, so he’s playing the game a bit more, but you know, what makes him unique in the force is that he beats his own drum.”

Last year’s
series one saw some gruesome cases and characters.

“‘Neil Cross definitely knows how to delve into the darkest realms of life. The sequel sees Luther drawn into the most savage and cruel parts of the criminal world, confronted with challenging cases, I think it gets darker and more

The new Serious
and Serial Unit introduces complex, terrifying characters, whose mindsets
Luther must understand and get to grips with:

“There’s a great twist in the last two episodes, it just blows your mind. Luther gets drawn in, deeper and darker. Neil’s created some great storylines for viewers to look forward to.”

And as for how
Luther will deal with that darkness, particularly after his recent trauma:

“I think it’s a case of he almost doesn’t want to do it, but he has no other choice. He feels compelled to do it. I think if Luther was given the option to die, he’d
prefer death.”

strange and compelling friendship with Alice Morgan was cemented into an unholy
bond when Alice killed Ian Reed in last year’s series. Luther’s alliance with
the beautiful psychopath continues to haunt and taunt him in the sequel:

“Alice is back, she was another favorite character first time around and there is
definitely a connection there. Ruth Wilson is great in that role, but I don’t
want to say anymore than that, you’ll have to tune in and find out.”

“The other new characters include DS Erin Gray [Nikki Amuka-Bird] who joins the team. She proves quite a challenge for Luther and makes Ripley’s life quite difficult too. Ripley is torn between being loyal to Luther and being very procedural.”

“Kierston Wareing joins the cast as Caroline Jones. She’s the wife of a police officer that Luther had to put in jail. Luther gets involved in helping her out because he feels guilty about putting her husband away. So again Luther doesn’t keep things simple, there are more complications and dilemmas he has to deal with.”

And as for
filming the sequel as two, two-part specials?

“It’s a format thing, it gives our audience a different way to watch Luther. So
it’ll be interesting to see how the audience reacts, but we thought we could
tell bigger stories in two two-hour specials.”

Did you get any
feedback from real detectives?

“Not personally, but I know the detective who advised us on Luther, his team
love the show.”

Idris Elba won
both Emmy and Golden Globe nominations for his role as John Luther and was also
honored at the 42nd NAACP Awards for Outstanding Actor in a Television Movie.
He talks about the reaction both in the UK and in the States.

“I’m delighted of course, really pleased about the reaction here and in the U.S.,
and it was great the American audiences liked it and really accepted it.”

“My taste and brand of drama is set in both worlds, so hopefully, as a producer, part of that hopefully impacts on the drama.”

As for what
Idris likes about playing Luther, he says:

“He’s a dark, very brooding character and that’s always fun to play. I also like that he’s extremely dynamic and fearless and I love that fearlessness about him.
There’s nothing he won’t do to try and get the bad guy. You read these
fantastic scenes where he does this odd stuff to really mean people and it’s
crazy, I love it.”

And what is it
he finds the most challenging?

“Getting up at 5:30am every day, ha ha! But seriously, Luther is the most demanding role I’ve ever had in my life, emotionally and physically. I can’t play Luther slouching!”

And as for what
Idris hopes the audience will go away with after seeing the Luther

“I hope they’ll be excited, engrossed and thrilled. Luther takes viewers to places
where TV drama rarely goes. It’s an emotional roller coaster, full of
unexpected twists and turns. Hopefully, we’re going to knock people out. That’s
what we aspire to do, anyway.”

Luther airs on BBC America, Wednesdays at 10pm est.


Episode 1

Still plagued
by the death of his ex-wife, Luther returns to work to face a surreal and
nightmarish case of a masked murderer determined to enter into folklore. As the
body count rises, Luther must use all his skills to stop the killer. At the
same time he decides to rescue an old acquaintance’s daughter, Jenny, from the
seedy world of prostitution.

Episode 2

Luther must
find Ripley, abducted by the masked murderer, in time to prevent the killer’s
final destructive act. Meanwhile the ruthless and vengeful boss of Jenny, Baba,
is demanding compensation for stealing her protégé. Luther is torn. Will his
visionary mind provide the team with the tools to save Ripley and the killer’s
intended victims, or will his focus be compromised?

Episode 3

As Luther’s
affection for Jenny grows so does his determination to protect her and help her
back on her feet. However Baba is determined to keep Luther on a tight leash
and threatens him to surrender Jenny. To add to his difficulties, he’s called
in to investigate a man whose brutal and escalating murders seem to have no
motive, leaving Jenny alone and vulnerable.

Episode 4

personal and professional life spirals out of control as he tries to cover up
the death of Jenny’s main adversary and appease a suspicious Baba. He must also
protect Jenny from any further harm. At work there’s also a killer at large
whose actions are ruled by his dice. How do you stop a man who sees life and
death as a game and whose actions can’t be predicted?


Alice Morgan
played by Ruth Wilson

Alice Morgan, a
celebrated child genius, completed her PhD in astrophysics at the age of 18 and
worked at a London university as a research fellow. She’s spent her life
feeling different, special and freakish. For Alice, human existence is
insignificant and life is futile and senseless – which is why she felt
compelled to murder her own mother and father. Luther has never been able to
convict Alice and they’ve subsequently formed a strange and uneasy friendship.
In the sequel balance has shifted and it’s Alice who needs Luther’s help and

DSU Martin
Schenk played by Dermot Crowley

Working for
Police Complaints, DSU Martin Schenk appears unassuming but is universally
feared for his steel-trap mind. Deceptively observant and intuitive, he’s
determined to rid the force of bent coppers (crooked policemen). Although
Schenk admires his talents, that might include DCI John Luther. In the sequel,
Schenk once more comes across his most worthy opponent and finds himself
strangely drawn to Luther’s side.

DS Justin
Ripley played by Warren Brown

DS Justin
Ripley is young, ambitious and eager. He studied forensic psychology and
criminology to post-graduate level and has a textbook knowledge of the last 50
years of crime-solving. In the sequel, Ripley remains unwaveringly loyal to his
boss – but he has his own ideas about what’s right and what’s not. Having spent
a year as Luther’s wingman, he knows to his own cost that while Luther burns
brightly, those who stand too close are liable to get burned.

Mark North
played by Paul McGann

Despite their
numerous differences Mark and Luther share a bond that cannot be broken through
their grief for Zoe. For months now, they’ve found solace and comfort in one
another’s company and random late night games of chess. When Luther finds
himself with a problem that he can’t bring into his professional world, he
turns to the man he utterly and completely trusts, Mark.

DC Benny Silver
played by Michael Smiley

Benny is more
comfortable with a console than a conversation, which makes him a bit of a
recluse. But he’s an exemplary hacker and what he doesn’t know about computers
and technology just isn’t worth knowing. Benny’s reputation and the hours he’s
contracted by the SSU have sharply risen recently as technology becomes an
increasingly important factor in crime solving. Rarely a case goes by when
Luther doesn’t need Benny’s infinite knowledge of trivia and his high-tech
nerdy expertise.


Caroline Jones
played byKierston Wareing

Fifteen years
ago Caroline’s husband accidentally murdered a prostitute, panicked and
disposed of her body. Luther tracked him down and was utterly brutal in the way
in which he put him away, so he killed himself. In the process, Caroline lost
her wealth, her health, her friends and her happiness. Her life was hauled over
the coals by the tabloids and her daughter went off the rails. She trusted in
Luther to help her, but ended up as a victim on the sideline of his campaign
for justice. As far as Caroline’s concerned, Luther destroyed her life and her
daughter Jenny’s life. Luther owes her big time.

Jenny Jones
played by Aimee Ffion Edwards

Jenny lost her way after her father was hauled
to prison and committed suicide. She found herself falling into a downward
spiral, unable to help herself.

More to come on Luther- Stay Tuned!!

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