Actor, filmmaker and producer Idris Elba, was named “Sexiest Man Alive” of 2018 by PEOPLE.
Ever since his breakthrough role in America as drug kingpin Russell “Stringer” Bell on HBO’s hit series The Wire, he’s been making women swoon.
Now his commanding portrayal of memorable characters like the gatekeeper of Asgard, Heimdall, in Marvel’s Thor franchise, or his role in the hit show Luther, the British heartthrob, has propelled him to become one of Hollywood’s biggest and sexiest stars.
So what did Elba think when he first heard about that title? “I was like, ‘Come on, no way. Really?’” the actor tells PEOPLE in this week’s cover story.
“Looked in the mirror, I checked myself out. I was like, ‘Yeah, you are kind of sexy today.’ But to be honest, it was just a nice feeling. It was a nice surprise — an ego boost for sure.”
Elba married his wife, Sabrina Dhowre, in April 2019 and the couple couldn’t be happier.
He asked the former 2014 Miss Vancouver to marry him in 2018, but said his proposal “was the most nerve-wracking thing for me ever.”
“But in terms of wanting to make someone feel super special and feel my love, that was pretty romantic for me,” he told PEOPLE.
Elba, 49, had planned to propose to Dhowre on Valentine’s Day “but that was going to be problematic” so he decided to do it at a screening of his film, Yardie, which he directed. “It was a little spontaneous if I’m honest,” he says.
“I was at a cast and crew screening and among people I loved. We had all worked so hard for this project so I was like I’m doing it right now, here, today.”
As for what makes Dhowre “the one,” Elba says the two “have good chemistry. She makes me laugh and we share common goals. She makes me happy. She makes me celebrate my successes and when I’m not too sure about stuff, she makes me think.”
Elba met Dhowre while he was filming the 2017 film The Mountain Between Us alongside Kate Winslet in Dhorwe’s home country.
How to Lose 20 Pounds in 2022
Meeting and falling for Dhrowe while shooting the movie marked a particularly special moment for Elba, considering the movie tells the love story of a man and women stranded in the snowy, mountainous wilderness after a plane crash.
“Falling in love while making a movie about falling in love is pretty special,” Elba told People magazine during an interview in February.
Elba’s early days were far from sexy, Elba said, growing up “tall and skinny” at an all-boys school in London, where he played football, basketball, cricket, hockey and rugby.
“And my name was Idrissa Akuna Elba, OK?,” he said. “I got picked on a little bit. But as soon as I could grow a mustache, I was the coolest kid on the block. Grew a mustache, had some muscles, bonkers.”