Idris Elba Pretended to Be American to Get His Role on ‘The Wire’
Watch the Complex.com video starting at 16:16: https://www.complex.com/pop-culture/2019/08/idris-elba-the-wire-pretended-to-be-american-first-we-feast-interview
Complex.com host Sean Evans asked Idris Elba, a black British actor, playing the iconic Stringer Bell on the acclaimed series The Wire, if it was true that series creator David Simon was unaware of his English accent. Elba admits that it’s true, but goes a step further in explaining why Simon didn’t know about his accent in the first place, saying that because Simon told Wire casting director that this series was set in Baltimore, he didn’t want non-American actors cast.
“Alexa Fogel was a casting director that was really into seeing new talent,” Elba says. “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.'” Fogel apparently told Elba—who was living in Brooklyn at the time—that he had to come in and just speak in an American accent.
Elba explains that when the fourth audition came around, they “changed the tactic” on him, asking him about his life and growing up. “My parents told me not to lie—you gotta look someone in the eye and be honest,” Elba admits. That’s when he had to spill the beans and admit that he was from East London. “Don’t fire Alexa, she told me not to tell you guys,” Elba says he admitted. West shouted “I knew it” and David ended up giving him the job, but instead of giving him the role of Avon Barksdale, he gave Elba the role of Stringer Bell.
Is this a perfect example of how Hollywood casting directors like Alexa Fogel deliberately pushing black British actors over African-American actors?