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Idris Elba Confirms What We Suspected About His Fight With The Lion In Beast

Few actors can claim a career trajectory like that of Idris Elba, whose filmography spans prestige TV, political dramas, and superhero blockbusters, to name three among numerous genres that he's tackled over the course of his decades of performance work. A list of Elba's best roles alone includes a military commander in the giant robot action film "Pacific Rim," drug kingpin Stringer Bell on acclaimed crime series "The Wire," and civil rights hero Nelson Mandela in "Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom."

It should come as no surprise, then, that Elba is currently working on a DC Films project, given that there's practically no genre under the sun that's without precedent in his existing body of work. Elba's most recent project, which hits theaters on August 19, is the monster movie "Beast." In it, Elba portrays a doctor named Nate Samuels, who travels to South Africa with his two daughters to revisit the location where he met his late wife. In the South African wilderness, they then encounter a large, bloodthirsty lion intent on hunting and killing them.

Of course, at least a little bit of movie magic is required to bring a monstrous lion to life for the silver screen. In a recent interview, Elba shared some insight into just how his character's fight against his lion adversary was filmed, confirming one particular detail inquisitive viewers might have already suspected.

No lions were present on the set of Beast

Idris Elba discussed what happened behind-the-scenes when he fought a lion on-screen in an interview with USA Today published shortly before the date on which "Beast" hits theaters. Specifically, Patrick Ryan asked Elba about a scene early on in the film in which his character, Dr. Nate Samuels, engages its villainous lion in one-on-one combat after failing to injure it with the weaponry available to he and his companions.

"The actual fighting of the lion was really difficult," Elba said. "There were no lions used in the making of this film." Instead, Elba was required to work alongside both movement and stunt performers wearing motion-capture suits mimicking the actions of Nate's animal adversary.

Elba also recounted studying Leonardo DiCaprio's performance in the 2015 survival drama "The Revenant" for inspiration. "The bear sequence that Leonardo does is really realistic and is sort of a benchmark in terms of what we wanted to achieve for the audience," Elba said. "Because everyone who watched that was horrified."

So, while the film's CGI team deserves credit for bringing the lion in "Beast" to life visually, Elba himself seems to have committed significant time and effort to ensuring that his fight against a lion looked believable, in spite of the absence of anything remotely lion-like on-set while filming.