60 Idris Elba Quotes on Acting, Music, and More

Award-winning actor, producer, and musician Idris Elba is one of the most sought-after leading men in Hollywood.

The Idris Elba quotes below detail his journey to stardom, from his humble beginnings to his many creative endeavors of today. 

What’s your favorite Idris Elba movie? 

Born in Hackney, London, Idris Elba is an English actor, producer, writer, musician, DJ, and rapper.

Elba’s first acting role came in the 1994 UK television show Crimewatch.

Over his 20-year long career, Elba has starred in dozens of films and television shows including Prometheus, Pacific Rim, Thor, and Hobbs & Shaw.

Elba is also a popular musician, releasing four EPs and one studio album.

In March 2020, Idris Elba announced that he was diagnosed with COVID-19 amidst the 2020 global COVID-19 pandemic. 

Learn more about the life and career of Idris Elba below. 

Don’t forget to also check out these motivational Denzel Washington quotes.

If you like this article, we suggest you explore our most popular quotes article, a list of short inspirational quotes for daily encouragement. 

Read more related content on our inspirational quotes category page.

Inspirational Idris Elba quotes

1. “I’m an ambitious person. I never consider myself in competition with anyone, and I’m not saying that from an arrogant standpoint, it’s just that my journey started so, so long ago, and I’m still on it and I won’t stand still.” – Idris Elba

Inspirational Idris Elba quotes

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2. “Waking up in truth is so much better than living in a lie.” – Idris Elba

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3. “I’m not afraid to fail. I’m not afraid to fall over and make a mistake. That often cripples people on the onset of getting into anything.” – Idris Elba

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4. “I’m never shaken or stirred.” – Idris Elba

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5. “Know what your target is, don’t guess it…if you don’t know what your targets are you’re never going to get there.” – Idris Elba

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6. “It turns out that you make your own luck but you work hard to keep it.” – Idris Elba

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Idris Elba quotes about acting

7. “As an actor, you’re trained to do the right thing, be politically correct, say your lines, say the right thing about the people you’re working with.” – Idris Elba

Idris Elba quotes about acting

8. “I’ve always had ambition, and the acting was successful and put my name on the map, but it was never the plan to stop there.” – Idris Elba

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9. “When I look at my body of work, I’ve played a lot of characters who are morally conflicted – ‘I’m right, no I’m wrong, I don’t know what to do!’ I want to play more characters who don’t care as much, and who aren’t as measured. They are what they are, no apologies.” – Idris Elba

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10. “There’s the argument that you can relate to someone who’s completely unrelatable. In the way that a director shows you his imagination on a film, then I get to show you my imagination in a big dumb character.” – Idris Elba

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11. “You know, film is the ultimate goal in an actor’s career. I mean, I still love TV. I have my feet firmly stamped in it. But my opportunities have been bigger and better.” – Idris Elba

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12. “I’d rather a young black actor read about success as opposed to how tough it was. I get these roles because I can act and that’s it. Hopefully that’s it.” – Idris Elba

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13. “The role of my agent has just been to get me in the room. If I can get in the room – say the character is just a charming man who lives next door – then I’ll walk in there and be as charming as I can and they will think to themselves, ‘I don’t see why we can’t cast him.’” – Idris Elba

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14. “Are there differences between black actors’ opportunities and white actors’ opportunities? Yes, there are. It’s been said.” – Idris Elba

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15. “I lived in America for a long time before I started working as an actor. Some actors show up on set and have never done an American accent before, so they rely on a slew of technical mechanisms. Part of what makes an accent is understanding why people speak that way – you have to understand the culture.” – Idris Elba

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16. “The long and short of it is that I am now in a position in England to greenlight movies, and that’s really excellent – not high-budget movies, but movies none the less.” – Idris Elba

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17. “I’m rebelling against being handed a career, like, ‘you’re the next this; you’re the next that.’ I’m not the next anything, I’m the first me. I can’t be myself, I can’t just be Idris Elba. But that’s just the nature of the business.” – Idris Elba

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18. “If you are going to call a film a ‘black film’ then you have to make a film that represents everyone that’s black, which is almost impossible. That is why white films are not called white films, they are just called ‘films.’” – Idris Elba

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19. “I would never be fearful of any character.” – Idris Elba

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Idris Elba quotes about music

20. “Yeah, I know, any time you hear an actor say, ‘I do music’, you cringe. But I want to be gradual with my music. I want to earn my stripes.” – Idris Elba

Idris Elba quotes about music

21. “I was really ambitious, so I was innovative. I was one of the first DJs to do live calls, ’cause I found this phone device that would pick up other people’s voices.” – Idris Elba

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22. “I’ve always been DJing; it’s just I’m making more of a push for it, making it more public.” – Idris Elba

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23. “I’ve been DJing mostly, and most DJs end up producing. That’s just me.” – Idris Elba

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24. “Whether it’s music or acting, that creativity all comes from the same source.” – Idris Elba

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25. “I still sing on bits and pieces. Singing’s something that I love to do, but it’s not something that I pursue as a career.” – Idris Elba

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26. “I did a rendition of ‘Billie Jean’ which is on my Soundcloud. I put it on Twitter, and it got about 3000 hits that day.” – Idris Elba

Idris Elba quotes about upbringing and family

27. “It’s weird because my parents don’t really understand my business. I get fan mail all day long, but if a piece happens to get to their house, they’re like, ‘Oh, my God, you’ve got a fan! You have to write them back. You have to do it!’” – Idris Elba

28. “Africans, we hold on to our youths and whip them into shape.” – Idris Elba

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29. “I was always a real athletic kid. Then when I got older, I just figured it was part of life to keep training.” – Idris Elba

30. “I have one of these bodies. When I was younger, I could never put weight on, and now that I’m a little older, there’s a natural sort of chubbiness coming. But honestly, if I work out for a week, it drops off in no time.” – Idris Elba

31. “I wasn’t bad at school, but I was never a bookworm.” – Idris Elba

32. “I love bikes. I used to own one, but I fell off it when I was younger and that was the end of my bike riding days until now.” – Idris Elba

33. “I knew that if I wanted to be all I could be, I would have to go to the U.S. It took three years to get the accent right.” – Idris Elba

34. “I was into Spider-Man when I was a kid and that was the only comic I’ve ever read.” – Idris Elba
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35. “My father always told me that a fool at 40 is a fool for life.”  – Idris Elba

36. “I want to go to Sierra Leone with something – whether it’s some sort of contribution to healthcare, or to the entertainment industry. My cousin is a nurse; we are talking about opening a clinic.” – Idris Elba

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Funny Idris Elba quotes

37. “I’m a little sheepish about it. Whenever I meet fans and they’re like, ‘Oh, you’re so sexy,’ I just don’t get that. There’s no way one man can be universally sexy.” – Idris Elba

38. “The only thing I change mainly is my sneakers. I love sneakers. But everything’s sort of black or jeans. Jeans, always.” – Idris Elba

39. “If I was gonna go to jail, I don’t want to go to jail for stealing a bottle of water. I’ll steal that $20 million. At least then it was worth it.” – Idris Elba

40. “Twenty or 30 years from now, I’m going to be on a beach in Jamaica.” – Idris Elba

41. “It could be Grammy night, Oscar night, whatever – I don’t feel the pressure to be there.” – Idris Elba

42. “There’s a fast-track if you can do the networking. For some personalities it works, but for mine it doesn’t.” – Idris Elba

Idris Elba quotes about previous films

43. “The adrenaline feeling of jumping out of cliffs and bikes and all of that is very specific to the film. In ‘Pac Rim’ I’m not doing that so much. There isn’t that touch stonework for me in it, but there is a lot of action.” – Idris Elba

44. “I think ‘The Wire’ really is relatable. It reflects an ongoing issue across America, about inaccuracies in major cities between rich and the poor and some of the things that go on behind the red tape of council and government bodies.” – Idris Elba

45. “It’s actually quite criminal how ‘The Wire’ was systematically ignored.” – Idris Elba

46. “It was deeply important for me to understand where Mandela came from. Because we know where he was going, and that’s a famous story, but who was he? Where did he come from? What was his upbringing?” – Idris Elba

47. “I’ve never had to explain ‘Prometheus’ to people, ever. Most people get it.” – Idris Elba

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48. “It’s really funny because the same people who loved me as Stringer Bell were the same people that were watching ‘Daddy’s Little Girls’ literally in tears.” – Idris Elba

49. “I was cast in ‘Thor’ and I’m cast as a Nordic god. If you know anything about the Nords, they don’t look like me but there you go. I think that’s a sign of the times for the future. I think we will see multi-level casting. I think we will see that, and I think that’s good.” – Idris Elba

50. “I get criticized for taking roles in films like ‘Ghost Rider 2’, but if you look at my resume, dude, I’ve mixed it up as much as I can.” – Idris Elba

51. What an honor it was to step into the shoes of Nelson Mandela and portray a man who defied odds, broke down barriers, and championed human rights before the eyes of the world.” – Idris Elba

52. “We’re all human beings. Experience is experience, let’s just be honest. Let’s not try and dissect suffering into a race, or whatever you want to call it. We’re all human beings, one way or another. All races have gone through times that are challenging; that’s part of being a human.” – Idris Elba

More Idris Elba quotes and sayings

53. “I’m tactile, very tactile. A woman who has really nice, looked-after skin is such a turn-on for me. It’s always sexy.” – Idris Elba

54. “The less I talk about being black, the better.” – Idris Elba

55. “The audience loves it when you pay attention to details.” – Idris Elba

56. “What really excites me in a project is when it goes in a way you haven’t been before.” – Idris Elba

57. “I love to play different roles. That’s just the kind of actor I am.” – Idris Elba

58. “I love working. I’m a workaholic and I’m really privileged for some of the jobs I get offered and so I just want to keep going.” – Idris Elba

59. “Actors tend to not know how their performances are going to actually be used. Even though the script says one thing, in the edit, it can be something else.” – Idris Elba

60. “I find that a lot of actors who are good and open to challenges have lived a full life. When you walk into an audition, you have more to say for yourself because you come from the real world. It’s more enticing for directors, I think.” – Idris Elba

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How do you handle competition? 

As a successful actor with a long resume, Idris Elba has proven that he isn’t afraid of dealing with competition.

Despite the highly-competitive world of acting, Elba is always confident in his abilities and chases opportunity. 

No matter what you accomplish in life, competition will come your way.

Your rivals may seemingly be smarter than you or more talented.

But one thing that you can always work on is your work ethic.

Strengthening your work ethic often doesn’t require money; you just need to put forward your time and dedication.

Your work ethic will make you stand apart against your competition. 

Which of these Idris Elba quotes and sayings is your favorite?

Let us know your thoughts below! 

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  1. Patty Summerfield

    September 5, 2020 at 3:43 PM

    Not only is Idris Elba a excellent actor,singer but most of all,a wonderful man. Oh, did I mention, he is drop dead gorgeous! I 💘lve watching anything he is in.

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