Actor Idris Elba on how Pacific Rim is not just a disaster but also a survival story

His name is as interesting as the character he plays in his latest outing Pacific Rim. Idrissa Akuna Elba, has sought fame not just as an actor but also as a singer, rapper and producer. His first acting assignment was in the soap opera Family Affairs. Elba talks about the experience of playing Stacker Pentecost in Pacific Rim and the challenges of being a part of a science fiction film.

What drew you to Pacific Rim and to your role?

The script was good and different. I hadn’t done anything like that before. Obviously, Guillermo del Toro is a good filmmaker. That was the main reason; I just saw an opportunity to work with him. Pentecost is a pretty interesting character and I felt like I could bring something to life with him.

How did you find Guillermo as a director?

He’s very vocal, sort of demonstrative with his artwork. He just explained everything, how he felt, what his vision was. He sent me these pages showing how everything was created. So, it was a process of just listening to him. And then, when I got to Toronto where we shot it, he basically walked me through all the sets to show me what he was trying to do with this film. The sets were amazing. Every detail was taken care of.

While you were shooting, did you get a chance to see what the Kaiju were going to look like?

The first thing Guillermo taught us about is the scale of the film, the world, and how big those creatures are. The truth is I don’t think we’ve seen anything like this on film in this detail and expressed this way.

And what about your character Stacker?

Stacker heads up the defence team against the Kaiju, and he’s an old school soldier who has come up through the ranks. He’s tough, resilient. There are a lot of dynamics in terms of him versus the world. So he’s up against the odds. But he’s calm, very calculated. So, there are plenty of layers for me to work with.

How was it working with Charlie Hunnam who plays Raleigh?

Hunnam’s a really cool guy. He’s kind of funny and young, lots of energy, very collaborative.

What about Rinko Kikuchi's character, Mako Mori? What is Stacker's relationship with her?

Mako is like his daughter; he raised her. She’s smart and their relationship is poignant. Rinko is a beautiful girl, who was eager to be good in this film. I like her a lot; and we’re friends.

You’ve been in Prometheus and now this. Are you a sci-fi fan?

It’s not a genre that I definitely followed closely. It was definitely interesting to be in a big sci-fi film, and see how they make these sort of films. I think that Pacific Rim is going to be quite a landmark film in terms of the evolution of sci-fi films.

What do you hope audiences will take away from Pacific Rim?

It’s a disaster movie, in essence. I think the world has seen, over the last three, four years, more and more troubling and perilous disasters, and it actually makes you question: what would I do if I was in that situation? This film does the same. At the core of it, it’s about people fighting for their survival and for their rights and their lives. I definitely feel that audiences will be entertained by something quite massive and set in a fantasy world, and relate to what it is to pull yourself together after something like that.