Idris Elba on 'Big Surprise' to Be Asked Back for 'Thor: Love and Thunder' Cameo: 'It Was a Joy'

·2 min read
Idris Elba on 'Big Surprise' to Be Asked Back for 'Thor: Love and Thunder' Cameo: 'It Was a Joy'

Idris Elba was pleasantly surprised by the request from Marvel Studios to reprise his role in this summer's Thor: Love and Thunder.

"It was a big surprise for me to be asked, and Taika [Waititi] and Chris [Hemsworth] are like my brothers, really in the film industry and in life. So it was a joy to be there," the actor, 49, told PEOPLE.

The opportunity came while he was filming George Miller's Three Thousand Years of Longing (in theaters now) in Australia, where Love and Thunder was coincidentally also shooting.

"So I got to hang out with my friends," said Elba, who included his Longing co-star and director, respectively: "I got to introduce my brothers to my sister (Tilda Swinton) in the sphere of both films and George was there and it was like all my best friends, all in one room."

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THOR: RAGNAROK, Idris Elba as Heimdall, 2017.
THOR: RAGNAROK, Idris Elba as Heimdall, 2017.

Walt Disney Studios Idris Elba in Thor: Ragnarok (2017)

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Fellow Marvel Cinematic Universe star Swinton, 61, remembers the day clearly too, telling PEOPLE, "It was wonderful, but there was an added, extra delicious point to my connection with Taika, because my sweetheart [visual artist Sandro Kopp] used to share a flat with Taika in New Zealand."

It was an auspicious residence, she noted. "It's the flat on which What We Do in the Shadows is based. So I've known [Waititi] for even longer — I know all the stories," the actress added. "And I know how much of that is not made up. So he was already a brother from even further back."

The connection made for a fun reunion. "So to meet and our first day when we got out of lockdown, we had lunch with Taika. And then we went to Chris' house. What a village people we were! That was the funnest day," Swinton says.

British actor Idris Elba (L) and British actress Tilda Swinton (R) pose during a photocall for the film âThree Thousand Years of Longingâ at the 75th annual Cannes Film Festival in Cannes, France on May 21, 2022.
British actor Idris Elba (L) and British actress Tilda Swinton (R) pose during a photocall for the film âThree Thousand Years of Longingâ at the 75th annual Cannes Film Festival in Cannes, France on May 21, 2022.

Mustafa Yalcin/Anadolu Agency via Getty Idris Elba and Tilda Swinton

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In Longing, Elba plays a genie awoken by a shocked mythology professor (Swinton) after she buys a glass bottle at a Turkish market. The tale finds Elba's frustrated genie (or djinn, as he's called in the film) recounting a never-ending quest for freedom as he pleas for Swinton's skeptical scholar to make her three wishes.

"When you meet someone and you become a close long friend instantly, it's pretty magical," says Swinton. "And I really feel this about Idris. He really feels like a brother."

Three Thousand Years of Longing is in theaters now, while Thor: Love & Thunder is available to stream Sept. 8 on Disney+.

For more from Idris Elba and Tilda Swinton, pick up the latest issue of PEOPLE, on newsstands now.