Sure, he might have already received the title of ‘Order of the British Empire’ for his services to drama — but Idris Elba has now been crowned Sexiest Man Alive!
From his breakthrough role in America as drug kingpin Russell “Stringer” Bell on HBO’s hit series The Wire to his commanding portrayal of Norse God and Asgardian gatekeeper Heimdall in Marvel’s Thor franchise, the British heartthrob, 46, has become one of Hollywood’s biggest — and sexiest — stars.
So what did Elba think when he first heard about his latest 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 is PEOPLE’s 33rd Sexiest Man Alive, joining a long list of Hollywood’s hottest, starting with a then-29-year-old Mel Gibson in 1985 to last year’s pick Blake Shelton.
Though he was an athlete at his all-boys school in London, playing first-string football, basketball, cricket, hockey and rugby, the actor insists he went through an awkward phase first. “I was very tall and skinny,” says the 6’3″ Elba. “And my name was Idrissa Akuna Elba, okay? 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.”
When he’s not being one of Hollywood’s brightest stars, Elba might be deejaying in Ibiza, kickboxing in Thailand, or designing his own clothing line, not to mention planning his wedding to his fiancée Sabrina Dhowre, 29, a model, to whom he proposed in February. But picking the happiest moment of his life is easy.
“Being witness to the birth of my children is the biggest and best thing ever,” says Elba, who has a 16-year-old daughter, Isan, and a 4-year-old son, Winston (both from previous relationships). “I’m super doting, big hugs, kisses, lots of love-yous. I’m sure my daughter’s like, ‘All right Dad, chill out.’ My son is still at that age where he loves a cuddle.” ***
“Idris joins acting icon, Denzel Washington, as one of only two (2) African American men to ever grace the cover of People Magazine, with this distinction. Denzel was named People Magazine’s – Sexiest Man Alive, back in July of 1996! Some twenty years later in 2016, People Magazine honored another actor of color, Dwayne ‘The Rock’ Johnson, with this title. Stay-woke America… Good-looks, beauty, style, class, and talent, comes in ALL shades. As a black man, we will take this recognition for Dris graciously!!! In my culture, when one ‘wins’, we all win!”