EW: Tom Cruise was originally in talks for your role as a military leader spearheading the fight against giant alien monsters in Pacific Rim. How did the part end up coming to you?
ELBA: I actually didn’t know anything about that until way after the fact. I got a phone call from Guillermo [del Toro] and he said, ”I’m doing this thing and I’d like you to read for it.” He didn’t say it was Tom’s role or anything. The whole ”I beat Tom Cruise to a role” thing — that’s definitely not true. [Laughs] I just really wanted to work with Guillermo.
EW: Guillermo told me he was channeling his 12-year-old self in making this movie. Were you into watching Godzilla movies and playing with toy robots when you were that age?
ELBA: Not to that degree. I was more into superheroes: Spider-Man, Superman. I liked comics, but I never really got into this world of kaiju [”giant monsters” in Japanese] and robots. I got introduced to that stuff through this film, and it’s a massive world.
EW: Between Thor, Prometheus, and now Pacific Rim, you’ve had a run of big-budget sci-fi tentpole movies. Are you surprised to find yourself in these kinds of blockbusters?
ELBA: Yeah, it wasn’t planned this way. It’s nice to be in big things like this, but I also love being on television with my [”BBC”] show Luther, and I like doing smaller independent stuff as well. I’d love to have a career where I can look back and say, ”I never really repeated myself. I played one drug dealer. I played one cop. I played one guy that flies in space.” [Laughs]
EW: And, if the reports are to be believed, there’s a chance you could be the next James Bond.
ELBA: I keep saying to everyone that that’s a massive rumor. But it’s one that I’m wearing well. [Laughs]