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Idris Elba, Jay-Z open London Film Festival with 'The Harder They Come'

James Lassiter, from right, Idris Elba, Jeymes Samuel, Regina King, Jay Z and Jonathan Majors pose for photographers upon arrival at the opening of the London film festival   -  
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Joel C Ryan/Invision

Jay-Z

"The Harder They Fall', produced by rapper Jay-Z and starring Idris Elba and Regina King, has opened the BFI London Film Festival.

After the 2020 edition was held online, a full physical festival in once again in full swing - with the opening night film claiming to 'redefine' the western with a Black main cast.

The characters in the film all really existed in history - but were put together in a fictional story by London-based director Jeymes Samuel, who also worked with Jay-Z on the soundtrack to "The Great Gatsby" in 2013.

Idris Elba and Samuel describe themselves as lifelong friends, and Elba happily took the part of villain Rufus Buck, which he said is a huge departure from his popular role as Detective John Luther. It was recently announced that Elba would reprise that part in an upcoming Netflix film.

The actor also describes how the experience of the Covid-19 pandemic changed his attitude towards his work, particularly when filming on "The Harder They Fall."

"I'm thankful for that, but when it was taken away from us, and this film, heaven almost didn't happen. When we got to get back on the set, I mean, we really relished it. And it was really important. And here we are today," Elba said.

"The Harder They Fall" is Samuel's second feature film. Although the film was produced by Jay-Z, aka Shawn Carter, Samuel describes how he managed to charm Oscar-nominee Regina King to star in his film.

Samuel expressed the importance of strong female characters, like one portrayed by King in the film.

"Never in the history of mankind have women been subservient. But just like Hollywood, at that stage weren't letting women directors direct major motion pictures, and then weren't letting people of color direct. So otherwise, we wouldn't have had such a skewered view," Samuel said.

He added: "I just wanted to draw on the women. I know women like yourself, like, I don't want to draw on women and their power. We are all women. I was raised by my mother, you know? And that's why I'm hoping it comes through in the in the film."

He and co-writer Boaz Yakin have also been praised for their depiction of King's character and the other female roles in the film. They include Zazie Beets as Stagecoach Mary, historically known as the first African American female mail carrier.

The film's main character, Nat Love, is played by 'Da 5 Bloods' Jonathan Majors, who'll also star in Michael B. Jordan's "Creed III."

"The Harder They Fall" is released by Netflix on 3 November 2021.

The BFI London Film Festival runs until 17 October 2021.