Though Idris Elba will be giving up his Sexiest Man Alive title, he has a new sexy role to be proud of

By Karen Mizoguchi
November 18, 2019 11:30 AM

Idris Elba doesn’t mind that his year as Sexiest Man Alive is coming to an end. After all, once a sexy man, always a sexy man.

Last year’s Sexiest Man Alive titleholder, 47, tells PEOPLE he still feels “very privileged to be considered in the sexy man conversation with Dwayne Johnson and Blake Shelton … It was good times.”

Now that he’s had a year in the position, Elba reveals the advice he would give to his successor, current Sexiest Man Alive John Legend. “Just enjoy it. Try not to be sexy, just be you,” the actor said. “One thing I learned very quickly: I don’t have to try to be sexy, I am sexy.”

He continues: “Doesn’t matter if I woke up in the morning and looked crazy, people would say, ‘Oh, the sexiest man!’ I told myself, ‘Yes!’ No matter what I do, I’ve been given the title, I’m feeling very good about myself.”

Idris Elba & John Legend
Credit: Dimitrios Kambouris/Getty Images; Jeff Spicer/Getty Images

The Cats star previously tweeted his congratulations to Legend, writing, “My G Congratulations brother!!! You deserve it. DO NOT TELL @TheRock He still thinks he’s got the title, I didn’t have the heart to tell him when I took it.”

And Chrissy Teigen also joined in on the fun, joking about her husband’s new title … and admitting defeat after Elba provided a funny side-by-side comparison of himself in 1995 alongside a photo of Legend from the same year to highlight their different brands of “sexiness.”

“It was just good fun, good times. I didn’t realize what it would grow into when it did on Twitter, I really didn’t!” Elba tells PEOPLE about the back-and-forth conversation he had with the couple. “It was great.”

In addition to sharing a Sexiest Man Alive title, Elba has something else in common with Legend: his new wife, Sabrina Dhowre, is his biggest fan. “She is!” he says. “She’s not on Twitter so she didn’t get involved but she 100 percent is my hype man.”

Idris Elba
Credit: Ford Motor Company

Though his reign is over, Elba has plenty keeping him busy. In addition to Cats, out next month, the star is teaming up with Ford as a creative partner to help launch the company’s all-electric Mustang-inspired Mach-E SUV.

“I think it’s a sexy car. The Mustang series is known for a bold, distinct style. The Mach-E leans towards that and brings it up to the modern-day trends,” he says. “I think we’re all going to be driving electric cars in the future because we can’t afford to be damaging the world the way we are to get fossil fuel. Electric is a good, clean option. It’s a step in the right direction.”

Watch the full episode of Sexiest Man Alive Cover Story: John Legend, streaming now on, or download the PeopleTV app on your favorite device.

His new Ford partnership is also a very personal milestone for Elba, who previously said in a statement that he and his father both worked at a Ford factory in England.

“When I was dreaming to be an actor and step on stage, my dad said to me, ‘Listen pal, you’ve got to make money and have a sense of responsibility,’ ” the star recalls, sharing that his father helped him get a job. “I didn’t even think twice about it: it was good money, I could do night shifts and could do my thing during the day.”

Calling the Ford partnership a full-circle moment, Elba says: “It’s a landmark moment with a company of which my dad paid for my meals as a kid from the work that he did at Ford. And when I wanted to be an actor and dream, the money I saved up to take me to New York for the first time came from Ford. This moment is very special from a personal aspect.”

For more of the real Sexiest Man Alive, pick up the latest issue of PEOPLE, on newsstands now.