Getting buggy on the film set 

It wouldn’t seem as if an ultra cool, macho guy like Idris Elba would be afraid of bugs. But the 35-year-old, London-born actor says while filming a few scenes for the new supernatural thriller movie "The Reaping," he almost "lost it."

"These weren’t just bugs, these were giant-sized locusts and loads of them," said Elba during a recent interview to promote the movie in Beverly Hills.

In the film, which opens Thursday, Elba and Academy Award-winning Hilary Swank play science professors who try to explain bizarre Biblical and plague-like occurrences in a small Louisiana town.

"The scene called for me to put my hand into a huge tub with a glass container and get a bug out," adds Elba. "They didn’t bite, but they flew. They kept flying around my ears. That was pretty harrowing. So I actually had to mentally prepare for it."

It didn’t help that Swank, a self-admitted prankster, realized Elba's fear factor and took advantage of it. "What a movie to be scared of bugs and spiders," laughs Swank. "Me and co-star AnnaSophia Robb had so much fun teasing Idris. We would get the locusts and have them sit on us when he was nearby. He was like ‘ugh, ugh.’ I mean it was the complete opposite of the stereotypical guy-girl thing. It was all in good fun and we had a blast."

For Elba, who appeared in Tyler Perry's "Daddy’s Little Girls," "The Reaping" was a nice departure.

"I was very interested in the idea of doing a supernatural thriller," says Elba, whose all-time favorite scary movie is "The Shining."

" ‘The Reaping’ deals with a very difficult subject. You're talking about plagues and beliefs in God. But it was a very good script and just a smart film. And of course the team of Joel Silver and Stephen Hopkins putting it together and working with Hilary (Swank) was too exciting to resist."

While Elba respected Swank’s work, the actress says she knew a bit about Idris’ career, too, particularly since he appeared in the acclaimed HBO show "The Wire." But it wasn’t until she worked with him on "The Reaping" did she realize his enormous talent.

"He’s the real deal," says Swank. "Our chemistry on screen together is really great. It seemed like we were great friends forever. I loved his English accent. I definitely would love to work with him again."

She’s not alone. Elba is sought after in Hollywood. He's set to star in "28 Weeks Later," the sequel to the zombie hit "28 Days Later." He recently wrapped production on Ridley Scott's "American Gangster" starring Denzel Washington and Russell Crowe. And he's currently filming "This Christmas" featuring Delroy Lindo, Chris Brown, Nia Long and Regina King.

"I’m enjoying the scripts that I'm starting to get now," says Elba. "I’m working with respected actors, producers and directors. The parts don't have to be big but they have to have an arc and allow me to show a certain side or a personality.

"Sometimes the script characters are very flat and don’t jump off the page and you have to create them. I feel I can sometimes do more with roles like that. Of course, the scripts with the checks attached to them are the best ones to find, too."

Contact Lana K. Wilson-Combs at

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Staff Report

Staff Report

A daily newspaper covering San Francisco, San Mateo County and serving Alameda, Marin and Santa Clara counties.
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