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'It's a bigger queue than Madame Tussauds': Police called to Idris Elba's casting after hundreds turn up

PUBLISHED: 12:10 09 May 2017 | UPDATED: 12:10 09 May 2017

Police were called to Phillip Street as so many people turned up for Idris Elba's casting call. Photo: Emma Bartholomew

Police were called to Phillip Street as so many people turned up for Idris Elba's casting call. Photo: Emma Bartholomew

Emma Bartholomew

Police were called to a Haggerston community centre yesterday after hundreds of fans and hopefuls turned up to an open casting call by Hollywood star Idris Elba.

The queue to get into the casting stretched down Phillip Street and around the corner. Photo: Emma BartholomewThe queue to get into the casting stretched down Phillip Street and around the corner. Photo: Emma Bartholomew

More than a thousand people queued outside the Whitmore Community Centre after Key Casting put out a call for paid extras to appear in a film directed by The Wire star.

But two hours into auditions at 6pm, Elba warned the casting was likely to be shut down after police were called to the scene as hundreds of people swarmed the streets.

The queue stretched right down Phillip Street, around the corner into Mill Row, and around another corner back up to Kingsland Road.

Just as many people seemed to be watching from the other side of the road.

Key Casting put out the call for extras in the Idris Elba filmKey Casting put out the call for extras in the Idris Elba film

Nysheal Chin told the Gazette: “The police have been called, and it looks like trouble could kick off, what with so many people from different areas being in such close proximity.

“We came down to audition but there’s no chance of getting in. I think they could have organised it a bit better but it’s still good for the community.”

Brad Gerrard added: “It’s a bigger queue than Madame Tussauds.”

Hackney-born star Elba is looking to recruit extras of Afro-Caribbean origin for his new film which is set in the 1980s.

Actor Simon Joseph, 33, came all the way from Ladbroke Grove and jumped the queue to get in. He said his audition had been “mental and brief” after he emerged victorious.

“They asked you to grab props to do with the era, but it was quick and there wasn’t time to get them out,” he said, proudly showing off his Cross Colours brand “old school yardie wear” pocketed jeans and baggy dungarees.

“They took a photo and said: ‘Do you agree to our terms and conditions?’ and you had to sign the box.”

Elba asked people to send him head shots instead on Instagram, saying the response to the casting call had been “unbelievable”.

“If you’re standing in line, I promise we will try and see everyone but we’ve only got til 9 o’clock and already I’m asked to shut it down because of the numbers,” he said.

“I don’t want to shut it down but it’s looking very likely, I’m just being honest with you guys, ok.”

Scotland Yard said police were called by a member of staff at the venue at 6pm to a report of “a large number of people and some disorder”.

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