Idris Elba says filming for new series Hijack felt ‘like flying to Mars’

Idris Elba appears in new Apple TV  series Hijack (Victoria Jones/PA)
Idris Elba appears in new Apple TV series Hijack (Victoria Jones/PA)

Idris Elba has said that he felt like he was “flying to Mars”, when he filmed for the new Apple TV+ series Hijack, as he had to act on an aeroplane for around six months.

The seven-episode series follows Elba’s character, Sam Nelson, who is on a plane from Dubai to London that has been hijacked.

Director Jim Field Smith said that the aircraft was a millimetre by millimetre replica of an airliner, which meant that the cast felt like they were “boarding a long haul flight every single day for 120 days”.

Elba, 50, described what it was like to film in such a compact space, in the middle of summer, and said: “It all sort of led into the claustrophobia of it.

“The crew, the actors, everyone was sort of tight, and it was almost like watching a documentary being made, or being in the documentary.”

He added: “As an actor, it felt like I was flying to Mars – ‘Am I still on this flight? It’s like six months later. I’m still on this flight’ – or like three seasons of a show.”

In the show, Elba’s character, Nelson, is a corporate negotiator who tries to use his professional skills to save the passengers on the plane.

Elba said that the role involved a lot of crawling and sneaking around and said that this was difficult to pull off given that he’s over 6ft tall.

He said: “Sam does a lot of sneaking around the plane. You know, me sneaking on a plane is like: ‘Bro, what are you doing? We can see you.’

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Elba plays Sam Nelson, a corporate negotiator, in new show Hijack (Ian West/PA)

“It meant that I either had to get lower, or we had to figure out another way and that added to the sort of drama and the reality of this thing.

“The fight sequences were certainly hard to shoot. They were choreographed within the space.

“If we hurt ourselves, we just took a breather, and carried on.”

Filming for the series also took place outside the aircraft, where Max Beesley and Archie Panjabi’s characters, DI Daniel O’Farrel and Zahra Gahfoor, were working out the intricacies of what was taking place on flight KA29.

Panjabi said that they were also restricted in terms of space and said: “We were packed like sardines, too. But we did have a good laugh on the show. It was intense.”

The first two episodes of Hijack launch on Apple TV+ on Wednesday June 28 and will be followed by one new episode every Wednesday until August 2.