Idris Elba has told how he got the words “One Life” inked on his forearm as a reminder to grab every opportunity - after losing his father to lung cancer.
The Luther star, 46, told the Hollywood Reporter: “That’s it. That’s all we’ve got. I watched my dad die, and he and I had big plans.
“I never got to show him the fruits of my labour. We talked about things he could have if I made it, then he got sick.
“It was heart-breaking, but it also grounded the f*** out of me.”
The need to make the most of his life hit home with the death of Ford Dagenham worker Winston, 76, in 2013.
Winston was also Elba’s role model for playing Nelson Mandela in the film of his life, Long Walk to Freedom.
He said: “So when someone tells me, ‘You’re doing a bit too much,’ I’m like, I’m going to die one day, I’m going to take that last breath. You know what I don’t want to be thinking when I do? ‘I should’ve done that’.”
The actor certainly lives up to his motto. His new Netflix comedy, Turn Up Charlie, was released last week, and gangland movie Yardie - his debut as a film director - hit cinemas last year.
He’s finished filming Fast & Furious spin-off Hobbs & Shaw, and he sings opposite Taylor Swift in the upcoming movie of musical Cats.
In 2016 Elba did a year’s training as a kickboxer for a documentary, winning his only professional fight.
The dad of two also has his own music label, production company, fashion line, and a London bar – and makes his debut in April as a DJ at California’s prestigious Coachella music festival.
And as well as being a contender as the new James Bond, next month he weds model fiancée “You’ve got one life to live. If you want to try something different, go for it.”, 29.
Refusing to be labelled only as an actor, Elba told magazine The - Hollywood Reporter: “I just want to encourage people to stay away from those who tell you to ‘stay in your lane’.
“You’ve got one life to live. If you want to try something different, go for it.”
His One Life tattoo joins eight others that adorn his chest and arms - each with deeply personal meanings.
On one arm is the name of his daughter Isan, 16, on the other is that of his late grandad, Moses.
On the back of his right hand is a lion’s face set inside a large black star.
He explained: “I’m half-Ghanaian and half-Sierra Leonean. In Ghana they have a black star on their flag, in Sierra Leone, they have a lion.”
He has lyrics from reggae song This Train, by Culture, and a tattoo of a tree.
Elba added: “I hug trees. There are philosophies of songs I love.
“They’re all personal. Body art for me is a form of expression of the highest order. This is our canvas - I just want to decorate it and be proud of it.
“I’ve got a sh** memory, I can only remember lines. But I look at this and I won’t forget.”
He now plans to mark his directorial debut with yet another inking, his 10th.
He said: “There are a couple of things in the film that I love the image of and I think might look good on my skin.
“But not big - because when I have to work I have to cover them all up.”