20 legendary Black science fiction actors who rocked the genre

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Idris Elba

While you may know Idris Elba best from British television or his supporting role in the sort-of science fiction Thor films (he plays Heimdall, the guardian of the Bifrost gateway into and out of Asgard), Elba is no strange to sci-fi. In fact, when you start to think about it, he’s appeared in quite a few different science fiction movies.

Naturally enough, one of his most prominent sci-fi roles happened in the Star Trek universe. Elba appeared in Star Trek Beyond as the villain Krall. To the surprise of the USS Enterprise crew, Krall is hell-bent on destroying their ship and the whole of the Federation. His former identity serves as a huge twist in the plot of the film.

Elba also appears as Stacker Pentecost in the Guillermo del Toro film, Pacific Rim. Pentecost is a Marshal in the Pan Pacific Defense Corps, an organization created to battle the monstrous alien kaiju that rise from the Pacific Ocean. They do so, naturally enough, by constructing and then operating massive robots, known as jaegers. Far from being a distant figure, Elba’s Pentecost character is in the middle of things, even going so far as to suit up and pilot another jaeger in a last-minute desperate mission.

He also appears in a somewhat smaller role in Prometheus, the 2012 kind-of prequel to Alien directed by Ridley Scott. The film received criticism for its plot holes, but Elba turned in a good performance as Janek, the captain of the ultimately doomed Prometheus vessel.

As if that weren’t enough, you’ll likely see Idris Elba in yet another sci-fi role soon. He’s currently in talks to lead Deeper, a sci-fi movie where he’ll play a discredited astronaut who encounters something very strange on a deep-sea dive.