Idris Elba is addicted to Luther. No matter how many big budget films he lands or music festivals he books, he will always keep putting on that famous coat.
“It’s one of those career characters,” the 46-year-old actor says of playing the troubled Detective John Luther on BBC and BBC America’s dark crime series Luther. “I’ve been addicted to the lifestyle and expressive nature of Luther for a while.” So much so that he admits that it takes it’s toll: “I always find myself needing therapy both before and after I play him. Afterwards, I need a nice break, I get to reset, it’s often when I make really good music or DJ great sets, because I’ve been in such a dark place for a long time that it’s nice to get out.”
More than three years after last airing in the U.S., Luther is back for season 5, and so is Ruth Wilson as the lovable killer Alice Morgan, who both Luther and the audience were told died between seasons 3 and 4. And while Wilson thought she’d eventually return (“You can’t kill off a character like that off screen”), Elba knew it was just a matter of time. “There is no Luther without Alice,” he declares. “She’s the bad guy that will never die.” He adds of why fans are so invested in this odd couple: “It’s the unnatural element that feels natural. It’s like the pit bull and the cat chilling out; you expect by nature that something might be off here, but what you actually get is a sweet harmony, which might not be really sweet, but they get each other — and they also get each other into trouble.”
Thankfully, Elba and Wilson’s relationship is much more functional than Luther and Alice’s. “I love Ruth as a person, and watching her step on set was like, ‘Weee, coming out to play again!'” shares Elba. “We both discovered those characters together while we were playing that first season and I will never forget that acting experience with Ruth.”
And the result of their reunion is what Elba describes as a “quite complex” season that is a “return to some of the other seasons that were a little more classical and traditional in the writing. There’s a few story lines going on at the same time that cleverly bring all of the elements together.”
But then will we have to wait another three years for Luther to return to our TV screens? Well, Elba is thinking bigger. “I think we should be changing format now,” he says, sharing his hopes for a movie. “The last few seasons have been more like mini-movies, and film allows us to now have more dramatic pin points moments that are slightly more compressed and it’s a bigger but smaller dose of Luther.”
Who needs Bond when you have Luther?
Luther returns Sunday at 8 p.m. ET on BBC America.