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Idris Elba talks every actor's dream, working with Aaron Sorkin, and American accents in 'Molly's Game'

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Molly’s Game tells the true story of “Poker Princess” Molly Bloom, who built up a poker empire from scratch, and ended up becoming the biggest game runner in the world. The film is written and directed by Aaron Sorkin and stars Jessica Chastain in the titular role. Idris Elba plays Charlie Jaffrey, Molly’s lawyer, who is at first reluctant to take on such a gossip-filled case, but soon sees the depth of integrity driving his client.

 

Here’s what Idris had to say about the film, and his role in it:

Idris, the relationship between Molly and her lawyer is absolutely the spine of much of the film’s narrative, and the rapport between the two of you is so key - did you have much time to prepare for that, to get that kind of rhythm going?

The short answer is no, we didn’t have much time to prepare for that, and it is very much the spine. I think Aaron’s said that essentially the Charlie Jaffrey character which is in part, you know, completely made up. His is to some degree Aaron’s point of view, in some of the ways that the whole case was handled and also as an entry point perhaps for the audience to be able to jump in and out without honestly breaking their minds with all the logistics of a court battle like this.

So it was a very clever device that Jessica and I got the privilege of playing, because it was like playing. Essentially we had 10 to 12 days to shoot all of those scenes, and some of those scenes are 10 pages long, and Jessica was amazing, she was on set long before I got there, but we just jumped in and rehearsed a lot. We would essentially walk on to set and show the crew, like a little bit of street theatre, and then we would go off and dissect this into the scene.

So you met Molly Bloom, presumably?

I hadn’t met her until the premiere, literally, I realised at the premiere that she hadn’t seen anything. Jessica was sitting behind me and I looked at her and said “She’s not seen it! What if she hates it!?”. I mean it was one of those moments. But she really loved it. She was very very humbled by the whole process, you know, movies, films, it’s very romantic, it can be very flattering, but she was very humbled. I think because the film is a great film, and because it depicts her in a way that perhaps she doesn’t see herself.

When you first saw the script, what were your first impressions, and why did you agree to do this movie? 

It’s a pinnacle for most actors to get a chance to work on Aaron Sorkin written material, so I got a digital copy of the script and just stared at the email for a little bit! Just had a good old look at that. Then opened it and really had a good look at the first page, but once I’d gotten over that moment, the script was an incredible page-turner, as you’d expect. And I couldn’t help thinking “how come I don’t know this story? How do I not know this person?”. I was really really moved by Molly Bloom and I hadn’t met her during the process before, and so I learnt a lot. It was really well written, and I thought “wow, Aaron is really jumping into the deep end with a film like this to direct.” I definitely admired his bravery for doing that.

Were there rewrites on set at all?

Only because I couldn’t say a word in that accent! 

If there was on word to describe this movie, it would be “integrity” - what does that word mean to you?

Great question! I think that your observation is great - the fact of integrity. In a time period where integrity for our population is something on the surface we’re all missing somewhat, and you’re going “where is it?” So when you see a piece of fiction, when you see a film that’s based on someone real, but you take that away? That’s a good thing. I’m very proud of being a part of it right now.

Molly's Game is out 1st January 2018, distributed by Entertainment One.

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