Standing 6-foot-2-inches, Idris Elba’s size helps to sell his characters. As a detective in ‘Luther,’ he often averted protocol and went rogue. On ‘The Wire,’ he played a shrewd, intimidating crime boss in the drug world. In the 2022 movie ‘Beast,’ he protected his daughters from a ferocious lion while on holiday in South Africa. But, in his new Apple TV+ series ‘Hijack,’ it’s his mental strength that helps him navigate a crisis, not his build.
Elba plays Sam, a passenger on a flight from Dubai to London that turns into a hostage situation. The first two episodes of ‘Hijack’ debut Wednesday on Apple TV+, with one new episode released weekly.
“I’m used to being cast as a big man,” said Elba. “In this situation Sam is vulnerable. He isn’t there to fight.” Sam’s strength here is that he works as a corporate negotiator, and his ability to assess high-stakes situations like mergers and acquisitions serves him well. “It’s all a bit of a psych game,” he said. “Pitting one against the other and figuring out what your weak spot is. And then, of course, being able to make people feel comfortable, not threatened.”
“It was very intense,” added Archie Panjabi, who plays a counter-terrorism official. “As the series progresses, the tension multiplies and so did the number of people in the room.” In the end, Panjabi says there was a feeling of resolution that was freeing. “I should tell people I spent six hours on screen saving your butt,” sh. e tells Elba to laughter.
Elba felt his own kind of relief at the end of six months of filming, in part because his adrenaline was often running high even between scenes.
“You stay keyed up. You go to your trailer or whatever, chill out, but you can’t undo your mindset. Your body does not know it’s acting.”