Aml Ameen (Credit: Gerhard Kassner)
Idris Elba has previously expressed his desire to direct, and, in fact, has done so at least thrice: first, there was a short film for Pepsi’s "Beats of the Beautiful Game" project 3 years ago, which was a collection of 11 songs that were each accompanied by short films. Elba, Spike Lee, Diego Luna and others all directed films for the series that aimed to “capture the sights, sounds and international spirit of football” (or soccer as we know it here in the USA). This was in celebration of the World Cup in Brazil in 2014; and secondly, there were 2 SKY Arts "Playhouse Presents" one-off dramas he directed in 2013 and 2015 - one titled "King for a Term," which followed a 9 year old boy and his experience starting at a school for disabled children, and the other titled "The Pavement Psychologist," which chronicled the intriguing relationship between an affable businesswoman and a charismatic homeless man (Nonso Anozie starred in the film).
The actor is now set to make his feature directorial debut with the drug-trafficking drama "Yardie" for the big screen, for which we've received casting information. A StudioCanal, Green Door Pictures, Sprout Pictures and BBC Films production, "Yardie" will be a big-screen adaptation of Victor Headley’s novel which is set in 1980s Hackney, and follows the rise of a young Jamaican in London’s drug-dealing underworld.
"Yardie" was the first novel by Jamaican-born British writer Headley, published in London in 1992. The novel borrows its title from a slang term originally given to occupants of housing projects.
The project is currently casting, and it appears that Aml Ameen is the first to be cast in the film adaptation, as the actor made the announcement on his Instagram page today:
Very proud and happy to announce my collaboration with Idris Elba, on his Directorial Debut 'YARDIE'. Set in the 1980's, based on the Classic Cult Novel by Victor Headley, I'll be taking on the protagonist role 'D' It's an honour to be working the Living Legend Dris, Studio Canal, Warp Films, & BBC Films. ???????????????????????? 1-13 #WC Article in BIO
"D.", the novel's protagonist, is a courier carrying cocaine from Jamaica to London, who decides to go it alone and disappears into the tough streets of Hackney carrying a kilo of white powder that his erstwhile friends are anxious to recover. But D's treachery will never be forgotten - or forgiven. Seduced by the high life, he chases his own fortune, stealing from his bosses and their associates, and setting up his own drug-dealing organization that directly competes.
Ameen was most recently seen Stateside in Netflix's "Sense8" series, as well as on the big screen in Viola Davis' "Lila & Eve." Coming up, he stars in Anthony Onah's South by Southwest Film Festival selection, "Dara Ju" which will likely be out later this year.
Meanwhile, Elba will have one of his best years ever, with 4 high profile films set for release over the remaining 8 months of 2017, starring as the leading male in 2 of them: "The Dark Tower," "The Mountain Between Us," "Thor: Ragnarok" and "Molly's Game." He just might be in 2018's Oscar mix.
Pick up a copy of "Yardie" if you'd like to read the novel before it becomes a film.