Idris Elba admits he sold marijuana early in his career, including to Dave Chappelle

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Idris Elba has confessed he used to sell drugs when he first made the move to America. (Getty)
Idris Elba has confessed he used to sell drugs when he first made the move to America. (Getty)

Idris Elba has admitted to selling drugs in his past, at one stage counting comedian Dave Chappelle among his customers.

The 49-year-old British actor said his showbiz career stalled when he first moved to America, leaving him struggling for cash.

He told SiriusXM's The Jess Cagle Podcast that he did a number of "things I'm not proud of" in that time, before breaking out with his role as underworld figure Stringer Bell on The Wire.

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Elba said: "I moved to America and it all just fell flat on its face very quickly for about four years. And in that time period, I did a lot of things. Some things I'm not proud of, but I did a lot of things."

When pressed for more details, he added: "I used to sell weed. Can I say that on the show?"

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Elba said: "I did that for a little bit just to help pay the way, I DJed quite a bit.

"I was a doorman at Caroline's Comedy Club, which is fascinating now when I meet the comedians that — you kind of remember the tall English guy with the funny accent and the little hair.

"Dave Chappelle remembers me because he used to buy weed from me. Anyway, moving on."

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Elba joined the cast of The Wire as a part of its first season, appearing in the premiere episode as the right-hand man of a West Baltimore drug kingpin.

The role cemented him as a huge star and led to a career in blockbuster movies, as well as his continued interest in music and DJ gigs.

The role of Stringer Bell in 'The Wire' put Idris Elba on the map in Hollywood. (HBO)
The role of Stringer Bell in 'The Wire' put Idris Elba on the map in Hollywood. (HBO)

Elba is currently promoting his role in animated sequel Sonic the Hedgehog 2, in which he plays Knuckles the echidna.

Ben Schwartz reprises his voice performance as the title character, with Jim Carrey also returning as Sonic's arch-enemy Dr Robotnik.

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The movie arrived in UK cinemas last week and is already scooping up box office cash, with Paramount announcing that a third film is in development.

Elba is also set to return as Knuckles for a spin-off series, which would air on the studio's streaming service Paramount+.

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