8 Idris Elba Movies & TV Shows You Totally Forgot He Appeared In



  • Idris Elba’s career includes massive franchises and major award nominations, solidifying his status as one of the biggest stars in the world.
  • Some of Elba’s performances from earlier in his career may have been forgotten due to poor receptions or a loss of relevancy of those particular movies and shows.
  • Elba’s roles in films like “28 Weeks Later” and “Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance” or small appearances in shows like “Law & Order” and “CSI: Miami” are worth noting despite their brevity.



Idris Elba is one of the most recognizable and accomplished actors of the last few decades, but there are some movies and TV shows many may have forgotten he is in. Elba began his career in a string of small-time British television roles before moving to New York to pursue bigger opportunities. His plan worked out well, as the list of Idris Elba’s best movies includes massive franchises like the Marvel Cinematic Universe and Fast and Furious, as well as numerous major award nominations for his bigger TV roles.

Idris Elba was even named in the Time 100 list of most influential people in the world, proving beyond any doubt that he is one of the biggest stars in the world. Other notable films and TV shows Elba has made a name for himself in include The Wire, The Suicide Squad, Molly’s Game, The Harder They Fall, Prometheus, and The Office. Before getting to this point, however, Elba had to perform in a series of lesser-known roles. These eight Idris Elba performances from that period of his career may have been forgotten after either poor receptions or a loss of relevancy.

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8 28 Weeks Later

Idris Elba in 28 Weeks Later.

28 Weeks Later is the sequel to the post-apocalyptic horror film 28 Days Later. The film follows the outbreak of a zombie-like virus that upends the world order, forcing survivors to congregate in safe zones away from infected individuals. Idris Elba’s role as General Stone, while important to the story, is relatively minor. Because of that, many may have forgotten that Elba is in the film at all. His character is played with Elba’s trademark physicality and commanding presence, but this is far from being considered one of Idris Elba’s best movies, making it understandable to forget his role in it.

7 Ghost Rider: Spirit Of Vengeance

Idris Elba as Moreau in Ghost Rider Spirit of Vengeance 2011

Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance may be one of Brian Taylor’s worst movies, which would account for people forgetting Idris Elba appears in the film. Idris Elba plays Moreau in this Ghost Rider sequel, a French member of a religious organization that ends up joining forces with Nicolas Cage’s Johnny Blaze. Elba’s role is relatively minor in this film, so it’s easy to forget he’s in it. Moreover, this movie was not well-received, being thoroughly panned by critics despite grossing over $130 million worldwide, making it easy to forget about Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance altogether.

6 Law & Order

Idris Elba guest-starring in Law & Order.

Law & Order is one of the most iconic TV shows ever, but even dedicated fans of this beloved drama series may have forgotten Idris’s brief stint in the show. Idris Elba plays the floor manager of a nightclub called Mega-Fly in the 2001 episode of the show, “3 Dawg Night”. Elba’s character, Lonnie Liston, becomes entangled in a murder investigation after lying to police about seeing the murder victim enter his club that night. Elba’s performance is strong as usual, and it may not be a coincidence that he landed his role in The Wire shortly after. Still, this is a minor role that’s easy to forget in Elba’s lengthy career.

5 CSI: Miami

Idris Elba in CSI Miami.

Idris Elba also has a cameo in another of TV’s most iconic drama series, CSI: Miami. Elba appears in CSI: Miami season 2, episode 5, “The Best Defense”, as Angelo Sedaris. This is another easy Elba appearance to forget considering it only lasts one episode. Moreover, the CSI franchise is a massive one, and only the most dedicated of fans have seen every episode, meaning casual CSI fans could easily have missed this episode, and with it, Idris Elba’s guest appearance. Even for those who have seen “The Best Defense”, it would be easy to forget Elba’s role since he wasn’t a big star yet.

4 American Gangster

Ridley Scott Idris Elba Shot American Gangster

American Gangster is one of the best gangster movies ever, making it the most notable film or TV show on this list. However, fans may have forgotten that Idris Elba appears in the film. Idris Elba plays a drug dealer named Tango, in this classic gangster movie, but his appearance is short-lived as Denzel Washington’s Frank Lucas shoots Tango in the head in the middle of a crowded street. Elba plays the role with his usual skill, commanding the audience’s attention whenever he’s on-screen. However, considering the brevity of his involvement and the presence of other stars with bigger roles in the film, it’s easy to forget Elba’s appearance.

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3 Sometimes In April

Idris Elba in Sometimes In April.

Sometimes In April is a 2005 historical drama film about the 1994 Rwandan Genocide. This heart-breaking film jumps between 1994 and 2004, intertwining the stories of the lead-up to this terrible genocide and the attempts to find justice and reconciliation years later. This made-for-television film flies under the radar somewhat, making it an easy one to forget in Idris Elba’s filmography. Elba plays Augustin Muganza, a young man who is forced to cope with witnessing the murder of nearly a million Tutsis and moderate Hutus. While his performance is gripping, many people likely haven’t seen this hugely underrated movie.

2 Daddy’s Little Girls

Idris Elba in Daddy's Little Girls.

Tyler Perry’s, Daddy’s Little Girls, stars Idris Elba, so while those who have seen it will remember his role, it is not a widely popular movie. This family comedy follows Elba’s, Monty James, a mechanic from Atlanta who is roped into a custody battle with his ex-wife and her drug-dealing boyfriend. Elba’s Monty ends up stumbling onto an attorney who helps him gain custody of his daughters, and the two end up falling in love. This is a solid movie with a great performance from Idris Elba, but it may be forgotten by audiences because of its relatively minor success compared to some of his huge blockbuster hits.

1 Prom Night

Idris Elba in Prom Night

Idris Elba also appears in the 2008 slasher film, Prom Night. Elba has a major role in this film, playing the hard-nosed Detective Winn, but like with Daddy’s Little Girls, this is an easy movie to forget when compared to Elba’s blockbusters. Even so, Idris Elba puts in a fantastic performance as he hunts down a psychotic former biology teacher, intent on murdering one of his former students. Elba’s detective Winn saves the day in the end, shooting the lunatic several times before he can kill another victim. Idris Elba holds the film together, even if it’s easily forgettable in the grand scheme of his accomplished career.