The British star voices the iconic tiger Shere Kahn in Disney's new version of The Jungle Book

By peoplestaff225
Updated December 03, 2020 06:32 AM

Robin Marchant/Getty

British star Idris Elba plays the malevolent tiger Shere Kahn in Disney’s lush new version of The Jungle Book. But at home with his brood, the actor is a big softie.

The father of two — daughter Isan, 14, with his ex-wife Kim Norgaard, and son Winston, 2, with former girlfriend Naiyana Garth — Elba most loves “the magic of watching their personalities form uniquely to them,” he tells PEOPLE in this week’s issue.

“And watching them form on things that you and their mum have taught them and things they remember, that is really truly human magic.”

Though his downtime is rare — the actor will next be seen in Star Trek Beyond and Stephen King‘s The Dark Tower — Elba, 43, especially loves spending time with his children.

A perfect day off entails “hanging out with my kids doing something completely expected and just having some fun,” he says. “And then we’ll go home, grab something to eat, we’ll watch a film, my son will fall asleep, my daughter and I stay up and watch another film, yeah.”

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As for his role as the villainous tiger, Elba hopes fans of the original film will be pleased with his performance. “He has a real sense of why he hates man and man cubs and the idea was to bring that alive,” he says.

“I love the sort of experience of using my voice as opposed to my face and body. It’s quite hard work. They shoot your face so they can see how you’re saying things. I don’t think the tiger looks anything like me, but they were obviously watching me to make it all feel as real as possible.”

For more from Idris Elba, pick up the latest issue of PEOPLE, on newsstands now.