LONDON (Reuters) – British actor Idris Elba goes behind the camera for his directorial debut “Yardie”, a crime drama he says will offer young people a “perspective” on violence at a time when London is suffering from a surge in knife crime.
Based on the novel by Victor Headley, the film follows the story of D, a young Jamaican who arrives in London in the 1980s and comes across the man who, a decade earlier, killed his brother in Jamaica. Rather than abandon his life of crime, he soon sets out on a bloody quest for justice.
The film, released in UK cinemas this Friday, comes after London’s murder rate overtook that of New York for the first time earlier this year.
“A film like this is, I guess, a piece of perspective for young youths to remember that…we’ve been here before and there’s ways to curb violence, there’s ways to get around that,” Elba told Reuters at the film’s premiere.
“We’ve had (resurgences) of violence and we’ve lost them again. And if this film was to do anything it would be a nostalgic postcard to the times when it was like that before so we can move away.”
While there are plenty of guns, drugs and violence in the film, redemption and love are also themes.
“Even though it’s a gangster film it’s also a love story, the characters are very humanised and so you get to appreciate that,” actress Shantol Jackson said.
Elba is best known for series “The Wire” and “Luther” and movies “Thor” and “Beasts of No Nation”. There has been speculation that he could take over from Daniel Craig to become the next James Bond.
“Of course, I would be a robot if there was no fear,” he said of his first-time directing.
“A lot of preparation, research, can alleviate that fear,” he said. “I’ve got experience on set so I didn’t have a fear of sets it was just making sure I told a good story.”
Reporting By Jayson Mansaray; Writing by Marie-Louise Gumuchian; Editing by Raissa Kasolowsky