The Wire's Idris Elba is making his mark in the movies.
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25 Nov 2013 - 12:17 PM  UPDATED 5 Feb 2014 - 1:58 PM

While James Gandolfini's final screen role, in Nicole Holofcener's wistful, outstanding Enough Said, is in cinemas and Bryan Cranston is saying goodbye to television's Breaking Bad with a plethora of film parts, another small screen actor is positioning himself as a genuine leading man. In The Wire, perhaps television's greatest dramatic series, the British actor Idris Elba played Russell “Stringer” Bell, a Baltimore drug dealer with a cold appreciation of life's facts and a soulful desire to avoid their reality. Elba, who was also in the British police series Luther, is charismatic, still and forceful when required. That's a job ad for a movie star.

The 41-year-old has already been in both Thor movies, flirted with Charlize Theron in Prometheus (if only that had been the basis of the entire movie) and cancelled the apocalypse in Pacific Rim, but now he's graduating from the ensemble. In the historical biopic Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom (pictured), Elba plays the lawyer turned ANC leader and long-time political prisoner in apartheid-era South Africa opposite Naomie Harris (Skyfall) for director Justin Chadwick (The Other Boleyn Girl). After that he'll star in the British thriller No Good Deed, as a charismatic stranger threatening a family, before joining Sean Penn (Gangster Squad) and Javier Bardem (The Counsellor) in the espionage thriller Gunman for French filmmaker Pierre Morel (Taken).

More unnecessary sequels
Night at the Museum 3, with Ben Stiller and director Shawn Levy to be joined by Dan Stevens (television's Downton Abbey) as Sir Lancelot… Mission: Impossible 5 with Tom Cruise for the close of 2015 (by which time it will have a ludicrous addition to the title in the vein of 4's Ghost Protocol)… Viva La Madness will follow up 2004's Layer Cake, although Daniel Craig is far too important for films like this now, so Jason Statham (The Transporter) gets the gig…

Cool cast kick it, Moscow-style
Some films suggest quality in terms of the assembled creative elements in front of and behind the camera, but others simply look like the best thing about them would be the cast's conversations in the make-up department at the beginning of the day. Kickback, a Moscow-set thriller about a policeman investigating the murder of a journalist, stars John Cusack (Say Anything), Famke Janssen (X-Men trilogy), Sean Astin (Lord of the Rings trilogy), Michael Biehn (Terminator), Sean Young (Dune), Tom Sizemore (Heat), John Hannah (Four Weddings and a Funeral), and Rutger Hauer (Blade Runner). Seriously, just want to hear a recording of the chit-chat during the coffee and make-up.

Cassel comes to Mount Eliza
Attention Melbourne film fans: if you happen to see a handsomely grizzled man on the city's streets who bears an uncanny resemblance to Vincent Cassel, please note that it actually is Vincent Cassel. The French actor, whose career has encompassed La Haine, Irreversible and Black Swan, is in Australia to shoot Partisan, the debut feature from Melbourne filmmaker Aril Kleiman, whose 2010 short Deeper Than Yesterday made an impact on the international festival circuit. Cassel plays the enigmatic father figure to an extended clan that includes three wives and 15 children in a film that is doubling Mount Eliza for an unnamed European location.