'Three Thousand Years Of Longing': Idris Elba And Tilda Swinton On The Viewers' Connection To Isolation Post-Pandemic

Idris Elba and Tilda Swinton are excited for viewers to see Three Thousand Years of Longing, the latest film from MGM and director George Miller. Based on A.S. Byatt’s short story The Djinn in the Nightingale’s Eye, the film follows Dr. Alithea Binnie (Swinton), an academic who comes across a Djinn (Elba) who offers her three wishes in exchange for his freedom.

Talking with Shadow and Act, Elba said that he felt that his major challenge with his role was to make sure audiences connected with such a fantastical character.

“I think the biggest challenge was always [being] conscious that the audience has seen some version of this character, albeit a cartoon version or some comical version,” he said. “I was really conscious for this character to be believable and relatable and interesting to watch. It’s got to be less than that [comical style] and something unique.”

He said that for him, finding the character’s humanity “was really the key” for grounding the character.

Speaking of grounding, Swinton talked about the literal grounding of the film, seeing how the Djnn has been grounded, or trapped, in his bottle for three thousand years. Swinton said that the isolation explored in the film is something today’s audience should be able to identify with after the pandemic.

“We were actually talking about this film for several years before we started shooting. The more time went by, the more relevant I thought this film was going to be,” she said.”

“People know more about being locked in a bottle for three thousand years than they might have done three years ago,” she said. “They also know what it’s like to be locked down in your own homes.” (“Or,” she added as a joke, “in a hotel in an Italian dressing gown.”)

“That feeling of understanding a kind of lockdown definitely has increased,” she said. “So we hope the audience is ready.”

Watch the full interview below.

Three Thousand Years of Longing will come to theaters Aug. 26.