The British heartthrob has been crowned PEOPLE's 2018 Sexiest Man Alive!

One of the most romantic moments of Idris Elba‘s life was proposing to his fiancée, model Sabrina Dhowre.

This year’s Sexiest Man Alive, who asked Dhowre to marry him in February, says his bended-knee proposal “was the most nerve-wracking thing for me ever.” “But in terms of wanting to make someone feel super special and feel my love, that was pretty romantic for me,” he adds in this week’s issue of PEOPLE.

Elba, 46, had planned to propose to Dhowre on Valentine’s Day “but that was going to be problematic” so he decided to do it at a screening of his film, Yardie, which he directed. “It was a little spontaneous, if I’m honest,” he says. “I was at a cast and crew screening and among people I loved. We had all worked so hard for this project so I was like I’m doing it right now, here, today.”

Credit: David Burton
Sabrina Dhowre and Idris Elba
| Credit: Rich Fury/Getty

The actor’s proposal quickly went viral when someone posted a video of it online. “Yeah, I didn’t expect it to quite make British news and American news and Japanese news, for that matter,” Elba says, laughing. “It was quite a public affair. But it really wasn’t meant to be on the news.”

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As for what makes Dhowre “the one,” Elba says the two “have good chemistry. She makes me laugh and we share common goals. She makes me happy. She makes me celebrate my successes and when I’m not too sure about stuff, she makes me think.”

Credit: David Burton

Now that wedding plans are in full gear, Elba says he has his own must-haves for the perfect celebration. “It’s a special day, but we both have our own ideas,” he adds. “I want about 19 deejays. There have to be, c’mon!”

Watch the full episode of PEOPLE Cover Story: Sexiest Man Alive 2018, streaming now on, or download the PeopleTV app on your favorite device.