As anyone who’s watched a romantic comedy knows, chemistry can either make or break a movie. It’s also important in other kinds of stories, such as, say, a survivalist thriller about a family trying to evade a lion attack.
Idris Elba recently dropped by The Breakfast Club to discuss his latest project Beast, in which he plays a father whose trip to a South African game reserve with his two teenage daughters takes a menacing turn. The kids are played by Iyana Halley and Leah Sava Jeffries, but the cast could have looked a little different.
“Interestingly enough, my daughter auditioned for this role, she wants to be an actress,” Elba recalls. “It came down to chemistry in the end. She’s great, but the relationship in the film and the relationship between me and my daughter, the chemistry wasn’t right for the film, weirdly enough.”
As noted in The A.V. Club’s review, the role demanded a certain resentful tone after the death of the character’s mother, and it’s safe to assume that the father and daughter’s real-life dynamic doesn’t look anything like that. However, it didn’t make the rejection any easier for the 20-year-old Isan Elba.
“My daughter didn’t talk to me for about three weeks,” the Pacific Rim actor says.
Beast producer Will Packer had to break the bad news to the younger Elba.
“I’ll give props to Idris, because a lot of people talk about nepotism,” Packer tells The Breakfast Club. “Two dads who for real want the best for their kids but are hard on them: Idris Elba and Ice Cube. The real deal. Idris was definitely like, ‘Listen, put her through the ropes. Go in, give her a shot, audition.’ He auditioned with her. He was very tough on her, and he said, ‘Listen, at the end of the day, we’re going to make the best decision for the movie. I trust you, Will, I trust the director.’ She was very good, she was very close. Idris is right, some of the nuance of that real-life relationship sometimes doesn’t translate onscreen.”
After those three weeks, the two patched things up, and it looks like Elba’s daughter is ready to pursue other roles that might be a better fit for her.
“She was very gracious about it, we got through that, and I’m really proud of her to go through that and then not get the role but still come to the premiere,” Elba says.
Beast is in theaters this weekend. Elba also stars in Three Thousand Years Of Longing, set to be released on August 26.