Movies

Elba stays cool as the man who came in from the cold

Idris Elba may have kicked plenty of butt on screen, but he ended up on the receiving end of Mother Nature in The Mountain Between Us.

Currently showing here, the riveting romance-adventure revolves around two strangers, neurosurgeon Ben (Elba) and photojournalist Alex (Kate Winslet), who survive a plane crash.

Stranded on a remote mountain in the bitter cold, with no help in sight, the two have to summon all their strength and ingenuity to stay alive.

Here, the 45-year-old English actor talks about filming in freezing conditions, his survival instincts and being honoured with an OBE (Order of the British Empire) last year.

You and Winslet are both on the screen together for most of the film. What was it like working with each other so intensely?

Kate is a really good actor and she's honest and super diligent.

She made everyone on the film set - not just me and the director - think about what we were doing in great detail, and that was inspiring.

There's a reason why she's been nominated so many times for so many great awards and won awards.

How challenging was it working in the bitter cold? I know you filmed in freezing conditions in the mountains of Canada, which contributes to the authenticity.

Yes, it was minus 38 deg C when we were in the mountains. Unless you've been in that sort of cold, it's really hard to imagine what minus 38 feels like.

It is crippling. You can't breathe properly, you can't walk two steps, but you know what was great was that as cold as it was, as actors we could use the cold.

Your emotional engine operates differently when you're really, really cold, so therefore, the weather steered us away from any cliches that we might have slipped into.

To be honest, you couldn't do any cliches because of how cold it was out there (laughs).

Also, we got used to the weather, as a film crew.

I think the cold became a part of the film; the cold is a character in the film.

This is a gripping survival story. Would you say you are a natural survivor?

I wouldn't say that I am naturally cut out to survive anything like Ben and Alex faced, but I have a will to live and I'm not intimidated by much.

My fight or flight mode kicks in pretty quickly.

So yes, I think I would definitely give it a good attempt to survive in reality if that was me on the mountain, but the truth is, what we went through as actors was just a little bit of what the characters go through...

Anything I survived would sound pretty petty compared to two people falling out of a plane.

Last year, you were honoured at Buckingham Palace, when you collected an OBE for services to drama. What was it like receiving it from Prince William?

It was a beautiful moment and my mum's really happy about it.

Sadly, my (late) dad didn't get to be there... he would have been very proud.

She couldn't believe she was at Buckingham Palace, and she reminds me about it every day.

She said to me, "Oh, when you send e-mails, you need to put your letters: OBE!"

And I was like, "Oh, I can't do that". And we laughed about that a little bit.

But yes, it's nice when your country recognises you. To be honest, that took me aback.

I've seen people get OBEs and you go, "Oh, that's really nice for them", but then when you're chosen, it's a weird, bonkers feeling, like the Queen knows who you are.

It's quite incredible!

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