‘Turn Up Charlie’ Star Idris Elba Wants To Be His Children’s Friend

There are very few things Idris Elba can’t do. Race cars? He’s done it. Train to be an MMA fighter? Yup, he’s done that, too. Steal every scene he appears in? Definitely.

The London native is not only an award-winning actor, but he’s also a director, dedicated dad, and fiancé. But in his latest role on the Netflix series Turn Up Charlie, Elba gets to share another one of his passions: music.

In the show, Elba plays Charlie Ayo, a down-and-out DJ who’s hoping to reignite his music career by reconnecting with his now-famous childhood friend. But of course, it’s not that easy. As Elba explained to ESSENCE earlier this month, Charlie is still a “man child” and has quite a bit of growing up to do.

“Charlie and I are both dreamers,” the actor, who rocked the ones and twos at last year’s ESSENCE Festival, said. “Charlie is a bit more of a man-child than I am, I’m getting up there with the maturity, but Charlie doesn’t want to accept that.”

Reality comes at Charlie fast, though. He’s broke, lying to his parents about his career, and in need of a job. So, when his buddy asks him to fill in as a nanny for his precocious daughter, Charlie reluctantly agrees. The little girl, however, is a brat and tries to do everything in her power to cause trouble for her parents and her new nanny, something Elba wouldn’t tolerate in real life.

"Turn Up Charlie"/Netflix

“I wouldn’t say I’m as strict as my parents, but I’m definitely, like, ‘Listen, there are guidelines,’” the father of two admitted. “For me, it’s important to be my children’s friend…We laugh. It’s important that they feel they can have a sense of humor with me.”

The busy dad said it’s also important that his children understand that he has a busy life, but they’re always a priority.

“This industry is tough on families. You do spend lots of time away,” he said. “My children know they get to see their dad when they see him, and they know my work environment. I don’t shun them away from that, so they understand.”

Turn Up Charlie is streaming on Netflix now.

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