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Idris Elba Begins Production on Directorial Debut ‘Yardie’

Variety logo Variety 5/16/2017 Robert Mitchell
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Idris Elba has started production on his directorial debut “Yardie,” which will shoot on location in London and Jamaica for seven weeks.

Studiocanal released a first image Tuesday (pictured) from the set of the film, which sees Elba directing star Aml Ameen (“Maze Runner”) as a young Jamaican named “D” who arrives in London in the early 1980s and unexpectedly discovers the man who assassinated his revered brother in Jamaica a decade earlier. When his quest for justice explodes into a violent street war, he puts both himself and the lives of his loved ones in peril.

“I am interested in making human stories with characters that are either, full of grace or flawed,” said Elba, who has a supporting role in the film. “In ‘Yardie,’ the audience will see a film that hopefully means something to the people. I’m honored to able to shoot it in my hometown of London and as a guest in Jamaica.”

Based on the 1992 debut novel by Jamaican-born British writer Victor Headley, “Yardie” was adapted by “Bronson” writer Brock Norman Brock and Martin Stellman, who wrote and directed 1980s Denzel Washington thriller “For Queen and Country.”

British character actor Stephen Graham, recently seen alongside Tom Hardy in the BBC and FX’s “Taboo” and soon to be seen in Disney’s “Pirates of the Caribbean: Salazar’s Revenge,” also stars. “Yardie” will also introduce Jamaican newcomers Shantol Jackson, Sheldon Shepherd and Everaldo Creary as Jerry Dread.

The film is produced by Robin Gutch and Gina Carter for Warp Films. It is co-financed by Studiocanal, the BFI, BBC Films and Screen Yorkshire. Universal Music is also a partner in the film, with its Island Records label set to release the soundtrack.

Elba will also serve as an executive producer on the film alongside Dan MacRae and Danny Perkins for Studiocanal; Mary Burke and Ben Roberts for the BFI; Joe Oppenheimer for BBC Films; Hugo Heppell for Screen Yorkshire; and Mark Herbert for Warp Films.

As a producer, Elba most recently shepherded John Ridley’s “Guerrilla” for Showtime and Sky as executive producer, also taking a lead role in the drama.

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