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Interview: Idris Elba

ICE COOL: Idris Elba’s latest blockbuster sees him tackle the fiercest of elements on a mountain

"THE FEAR of the cold is crippling,” says Idris Elba, during our interview at the swanky Ham Yard hotel.

“Minus 38 degree weather is so cold that it makes you realise that something like minus one definitely isn’t.

“Once I discovered that, and realised I’m alive, making a movie and working in conditions where I actually appreciated when it was minus 15, I acknowledged that it was time to unlock any fears that are attached to the cold.”

Set against a snowy backdrop, on a remote sleet-covered mountain, The Mountain Between Us tells the tale of two strangers who, after a plane crash, must work together and rely on each other to survive the extreme elements and the stark, terrifying wilderness. The film, directed by Academy Award nominee Hany Abu-Assad also stars Kate Winslet and uses the extreme conditions to hone in on a deeper issue, reflecting the importance of human connection.

“The challenge for this film is that you only have two actors on a mountain – what do you do? How do you make it into a gripping film? How do you keep an audience entertained for an hour and a half on just two people? That was the real challenge,” says Elba.

WATCH THE MOUNTAIN BETWEEN US TRAILER, BELOW (credit: YouTube/20th Century Fox):

“I have made films that span from real-life stories to green screen spectaculars, but this was simple; just Kate [Winslet] and I on a mountain, falling in love.

“Beyond that, I think that we, as a society, are looking at some very strange times. Lots of hate, lots of tension and this film remind us of a simple thing: that human connection is really important.

"Even though I don’t know you, it doesn’t mean I should be wary of you and I was excited about bringing that message to the screen, which asks the audience to trust in each other.”

In these trying post-Trump and post-Brexit times, trust is not something that most people embrace these days. But, The Mountain Between Us shows us that despite our differences – from race to socioeconomic status – trust is all we have when it comes to survival.

“My character Ben was a very practical man – he is a neurosurgeon and during my research on neurosurgeons, I learnt that they’re practical, all about preparation and being extremely careful,” notes Elba.

THRIVES ON DANGER

“But he had to trust in Alex [played by Winslet] – a photojournalist who thrives on danger and documenting that. He had to take elements of her character and eventually he had to have trust in her, because if he didn’t, he would still be up on that mountain and he’d be an ice block right now.

“That is what it ultimately comes down to in the end – the ability to strip back those layers and trust in something other than yourself.”

He adds:

“I’m more like Alex than I am like Ben because that’s how I live my life. You’ve just got to throw caution to the wind sometimes and go with your instinct.”

As the Luther star identifies himself as much more of a risk-taker, I ask whether he feels that his survival skills are up to par for such a challenge in reality.

“I would definitely not sit still, that’s for sure,” he says.

“I would have been resourceful, figured out what to do to keep warm and figured out a way down – that’s what I’d be doing.

“After making this film, I realised that most things are just mind over matter.”

The Mountains Between Us will hit UK cinemas this Friday October 6.

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