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DCI John Luther in the BBC One series Luther, and Nelson Mandela in the biographical film Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom (2013).He has been nominated four times for a Golden Globe Award for Best Actor – Miniseries or Television Film, winning one, and was nominated five times for a Primetime Emmy Award.He joined the cast of the soap opera Family Affairs He returned to England occasionally for a television role, such as a part in one of the Inspector Lynley Mysteries.In 2001, Elba played Achilles in a stage production of Troilus and Cressida in New York City.
Many supporting roles on British television followed, including series such as The Bill and The Ruth Rendell Mysteries.He credits The Stage with giving him his first big break, having seen an advertisement for a play in it; he auditioned and met his first agent while performing in the role.Elba's first acting role was in Crimewatch murder reconstructions and in 1994 he appeared in a BBC children's drama called The Boot Street Band.In 2005, he portrayed Captain Augustin Muganza in Sometimes in April, an HBO film about the Rwandan Genocide.
Elba appeared on the 2007 BET special Black Men: The Truth.
Elba also starred alongside Abraham Attah in the film Beasts of No Nation which premiered in select theaters and on Netflix.