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Idris Elba Has Never Watched 'The Wire'

By Breeanna Hare CNN | 10/18/2013, 10:05 a.m.
Idris Elba as Stringer Bell on HBO's hit-series "The Wire."

There's always one.

With every highly praised TV show that has been added to the "essential viewing" list -- see: "Breaking Bad"; "The Sopranos" -- it's guaranteed there is still some poor, uninformed soul who's managed to miss the entire thing.

Idris Elba is one of those people.

Although he's beset known for playing drug dealer Stringer Bell on "The Wire," Elba, 41, hasn't actually sat down and watched David Simon's Baltimore-based saga.

"I’ve seen a full episode at screenings but never at home," the London-born actor tells Playboy magazine. "I’ve never watched an entire season. I’ve not seen any episode of season two, most of season three and none of seasons four and five. I’m super-critical of my own work. As an actor, if you’re being told how wonderful you are, what do you need to strive for? I don’t know if I’m good just because some critic says I am in the press."

While some might've hedged their answer, Elba is nothing but honest. Given that he's also a DJ, he's frank that "drug culture is a big part of the house music scene that I deejay now. Loads of DJs get smashed," he tells the magazine. "At first I bypassed drugs. I didn’t start smoking weed until later in life. ... I mean, I’m not gonna lie -- I’ve tried everything ... I’ve tried it all. I played one of the biggest drug dealers in the world on TV, so you think I’d know what I was talking about."

But later this year, Elba is going to step into the shoes of a freedom fighter when he portrays Nelson Mandela in November's biopic, "Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom."

"This is one of the most courageous and selfless men you’re ever going to meet," Elba said of Mandela. "If I said to you, 'Listen, there’s a whole generation of people who are suffering, and if you give up 27 years of your life and spend that time in prison, you could help them,' the likelihood is you’d say, 'No, I’m all right. I’m kind of comfortable here.' What I found out from him is, he was that guy."

"Mandela," which also stars Naomie Harris as Winnie Mandela, opens in select theaters on November 29.

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