''The Wire'' actor is ready to make it big in Hollywood with his new film, ''Daddy's Little Girls''

By Missy Schwartz
Updated February 16, 2007 at 05:00 AM EST

”Stringer Bell is a hard character to lose,” says Elba, 34, referring to the drug mogul he played for three seasons on HBO’s The Wire. To go from channeling a hard thug to starring as a single dad fighting for custody of his kids in the new Tyler Perry drama Daddy’s Little Girls was definitely ”a bit of a jump,” but it’s one of many creative leaps the London native is making this year. Following Girls, in which he romances Gabrielle Union, Elba dodges the plague with Hilary Swank in April’s The Reaping, battles the zombies in May’s horror sequel 28 Weeks Later, goes brute again opposite Denzel Washington in next fall’s American Gangster, and survives a dysfunctional family reunion in November’s This Christmas, with Regina King. (Oh, yeah, he also regularly spins at parties and clubs as DJ Driis.) Until now, Elba has worked and lived mainly on the East Coast, but it’s time to go schmooze in Hollywood. ”I have all these films, but there’s no sense of who I am as an artist yet. So,” he says, laughing, ”I’m gonna go out there and sell my soul.”