Though he may not have nabbed the role of superspy James Bond just yet, Idris Elba is dipping his toes into the world of top-notch law enforcement with the news that he’s joined the cast of Disney’s Zootopia as a Cape buffalo head of the Zootpia Police Department.
As first announced by USA Today, Elba will voice the role of Chief Bogo, the brawny, somewhat stoic head of a police department who is charged with keeping the mammal residents of Zootopia safe from harm. Though the British actor has a varied list of credits to his name, voicing an animated character represented a career first — albeit one that fulfilled a deep-seated career goal. “I always wanted to be Tom Hanks in Toy Story,” Elba told USA Today, adding “I can’t say I ever even dreamed of being a buffalo before. But now that I am one, I’m very excited about it.”
While one might assume that the process of getting into the mindset of an animated character might be difficult for an actor accustomed to live action, Elba says he “grabbed the part by the horns” during his time in the recording studio.
“I like to turn the lights down, take my shoes off and get into character. I really go for it in the room, with movement. I act out the part,” said Elba, who voices the role in his native East London accent. “It’s a very animated performance.”
And fans, expect to see – er, hear – a different side of the 43-year-old Beasts of No Nation star. “Idris is so funny – people would be surprised how funny,” director Byron Howard told USA Today. “It was like, ‘We have to get some of this in the movie.’ So Chief Bogo has this goofiness under the surface.”
News of Elba’s casting as in Disney’s forthcoming feature rounds out an A-list roster that includes Octavia Spencer, Nate Torrence, singer Shakira, Tommy Chong and Oscar-winner J.K. Simmons, Jenny Slate and Alan Tudyk.
Directed by Howard (Bolt, Tangled) and Richard Moore (Wreck-It Ralph), Zootopia takes place in an animal-filled metropolis where cheerful Officer Judy Hopps (Ginnifer Goodwin) joins forces with a slick con-artist Nick Wilde (Jason Bateman) to solve a complicated mystery.
Zootopia roars into theaters March 4, 2016.