Idris Elba has revealed he is desperate to play Thelonious Monk in a biopic about the life of the “legendary jazz musician”.
The 43-year-old actor famously played late South African President Nelson Mandela in biopic ‘Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom’ and he has now set his sights on portraying one of his musical heroes, pioneering 50s artist Monk.
Idris realises that the wider public may not be familiar with his life and work and thinks it would be great to educate people about the huge influence he had on modern jazz.
Speaking to Mix Mag, he said: “Thelonious Monk. He was a legendary jazz musician. When jazz was popular in the early 50s, Monk came along and just did something weird with it and everyone was like, ‘He’s a bit odd.’ He had mental health issues he didn’t realise he had for a long time, but he was an absolute genius because he just came in and broke all the rules. He was kind of like the Skrillex of his day. You know when Sonny came out and just DJ’d a different way to everyone else? When he’s nutting it out playing a bit of d’n’b, a bit of dubstep and everyone’s going, ‘What the front door?’ Monk was a bit like that.”
Idris thinks the most fascinating aspect of Monk’s life is that he was able to make such incredible music while coping with the limitations of a mental illness.
He added: “I’m interested in the idea of someone battling mental health but being able to express himself with music. You know, the last 10 years of his life, he never touched a piano again.”