Idris Elba on ‘No Good Deed’ Character: ‘It Was a Challenge to Make Someone So Evil’

“I’m not a violent person, especially against women, so it was tough to do all of that,” Elba says of playing his character in 'No Good Deed.'

Taraji P. Henson and Idris Elba’s psychological thriller No Good Deed hits theaters on Friday, but the film, which was a labor of love for it’s stars—who also served as executive producers—almost didn’t make it to the big screen. Although Elba and Henson signed onto the project years ago, a series of delays nearly derailed the production. 

“[Will Packer] brought me this [movie] four or five years before Think Like a Man was in the works,” Henson told Essence.com. “We had been trying to put it together, but we just couldn’t get it together in time. Right before it got put on the backburner we finally got Idris to sign on.” Elba eventually had to drop out of the project due to a scheduling conflict, but Henson didn’t give up hope. “I realized executive producers must have the gift of gab because my best performance was talking him into doing it. I played the single mama card, I cried, and here we are.”

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“She pulled a guilt trip on me,” Elba recalled with a laugh. Henson’s persistence paid off. In No Good Deed, the pair team up for a tension-filled movie that will have moviegoers riveted in their seats. Henson plays Terri, a former prosecutor turned stay-at-home mom, and Elba portrays Colin, a convicted felon who just broke out of prison. When their paths cross on stormy night, Terri soon learns that trying to help the mysterious stranger has put both her and her children in danger.

The role of Colin, a narcissistic villain, marks a serious departure from Elba’s usual on-screen performances. “My female audience ain’t gonna like this character,” he explained. “But I definitely wanted to produce something challenging for me and for my audience. It was a challenge to try to make someone so evil at least relatable.”

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Henson, on the other hand, could sympathize with her character. “Terri never played the victim; as soon as she sensed danger in her house she went into mama bear mode. I totally identified with that as a mother,” she said. “To this day I would break somebody’s neck for my child and he’s 20.”

Henson wasn’t lying. No Good Deed culminates in an epic fight scene between the characters that took three days to film, and the sequence was extremely difficult for both of the stars. “I’m not a violent person, especially against women, so it was tough to do all of that,” Elba admitted.

The scene was taxing on Henson as well. “It was a lot of choreography, almost like a dance. I thought we were going to tear that house down,” she said. “That was actually the most challenging thing for me, that fight scene. I had no idea it would be that much work.”

Off screen things were much different. Henson said she and Elba had a wonderful time, and she even teased her co-star about his British accent and the affect he had on all of the women on set.

“When he got to set I told him, ‘You think you’re all that, but you just alright to me.’” Henson said she cajoled the entire crew to rib the Brit about his legendary sex symbol status by chanting his name. “By the time he came on set I had the crew—men and women—going, “Idris, Idris, Idris. We had a lot of fun.”

No Good Deed opens in theaters tomorrow, September 12.

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