Last night’s Game Awards were full of weird and amusing celebrity appearances: Al Pacino struggling to read the teleprompter, the Last of Us cast and Pedro Pascal trying to say the Best Action game award in unison, Animal the Muppet salivating over Elden Ring’s Malenia — but arguably the most exciting celebrity appearance was in the Cyberpunk 2077 trailer for the Phantom Liberty DLC. In it, it was revealed that Idris Elba will play a starring role in the game’s expansion, playing FIA agent Solomon Reed.
Since this obviously isn’t Cyberpunk’s first big-name celeb, it wasn’t exactly a shock to see Idris rendered (quite accurately) in the trailer. It was a pleasant surprise, however, and we’re excited to see his performance in Phantom Liberty. He’s very talented, but that isn’t exactly why we’re excited — he’s just dang pleasant to watch do his thing. Here’s why:
This is subjective, but we doubt many folks would disagree with us here. The combination of deep voice, slow speech, and easy smile makes Idris impossible to dislike. He also comes off as an everyman, and it isn’t just an act: Idris was born in a tough part of London, and worked night shifts at a Ford factory while trying to make it as an actor. He’s maintained a humble attitude despite his fame, once telling Closer magazine “I’m no different to anybody else; I just happen to be in the public eye.”
He’s also multi-talented, which always makes someone cooler. Not only is he a fantastic actor, he’s written and directed, produced, been a DJ, and won a professional kickboxing match. He hosted a radio show on African Music for the BBC, he helped in the efforts to eradicate Ebola from West Africa, and he’s spoken in front of Parliament in the UK. What’s not to like?
He’s a Gunslinger
You can be forgiven for not having caught Idris Elba in the Dark Tower movie — because it wasn’t very good. There was one shining light in the film however, and that was Idris Elba. Despite not fitting Stephen King’s description of the character at all, it was hard to deny the gravity that Elba brought to the Gunslinger he played (though him and McConaughey together still couldn’t save the movie). He also effectively played a tough cowboy in The Harder They Fall, and the gun-loving Bloodsport in the Suicide Squad movie.
Of course, we can’t talk about his roles without mentioning his portrayal of Stringer Bell — just like The Wire, Night City is gritty, and it’s clear Elba can do gritty. While it appears he’ll be playing a government agent in the Cyberpunk DLC, that doesn’t mean he won’t get down and dirty — it’s not like the authorities in Cyberpunk 2077 are the “good guys”.
When he joins the game’s character roster in Phantom Liberty, Idris will officially be the most handsome character in Night City. Don’t get me wrong, Keanu is cute — if you’re into the “sits in the dark listening to Nevermind on top of sweat-soaked sheets” sort of thing. But Idris manages to be simultaneously strong and approachable, and, well, just look at that smile.
It’s a role that needs filling in Cyberpunk 2077, honestly. Jackie was perfect for the “tough but kind” role, but then CDPR went and offed him just after we’d become best-friends-via-montage. With any luck, Idris Elba’s Solomon character will fill that void, being both a badass and a buddy to V. If there also happens to be a romance option with Solomon… we sure won’t complain.
We feel it’s important to make clear that Keanu is a moody, shooty cutie — so don’t send us hate mail, please. We’re just excited about Idris making his Cyberpunk debut! The Phantom Liberty DLC, a paid expansion for Cyberpunk 2077, releases sometime in 2023.
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Unabashed FromSoftware fanboy still learning to take his time with games (and everything else, really). The time he doesn't spend on games is spent on music, books, or occasionally going outside.