‘Concrete Cowboy’ forced Idris Elba to combat his horse allergy with pickle juice: ‘It really helps’

The actor stars in the Netflix film alongside Caleb McLaughlin and Jharrel Jerome

Netflix just released the highly-anticipated drama Concrete Cowboy starring Idris Elba, Caleb McLaughlin, and Jharrel Jerome. 

Based on the novel “Ghetto Cowboy” by G. NeriConcrete Cowboy is directed by first-time feature filmmaker Ricky Staub, written by Ricky Staub and Dan Walser. The film was produced by Tucker Tooley, Lee Daniels, Dan Walser, Jeff Waxman, Jennifer Madeloff, Byron Bowers, Lorraine Toussaint, and Cliff “Method Man” Smith. 

CONCRETE COWBOY – (L-R) Idris Elba as Harp and Caleb McLaughlin as Cole. Cr. Aaron Ricketts / NETFLIX © 2021

Here’s the official synopsis: 

When fifteen year-old Cole (McLaughlin) is expelled from school in Detroit, he is sent to North Philadelphia to live with Harp (Elba), his estranged father. Harp finds solace in rehabilitating horses for inner city cowboys at the Fletcher Street Stables, a real-life black urban horsemanship community that has provided a safe haven for the neighborhood residents for more than 100 years.

Torn between his growing respect for his father’s community and his reemerging friendship with troubled cousin Smush (Jerome), Cole begins to reprioritize his life as the stables themselves are threatened by encroaching gentrification. 

CONCRETE COWBOY – (L-R) Caleb McLaughlin as Cole and Jharrel Jerome as Smush. Cr. Aaron Ricketts / NETFLIX © 2021

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When theGrio caught up with Elba to discuss the project that features tons of horses, we learned that the heartthrob had some serious issues with his four-legged costars. 

“I’m allergic to horses,” he revealed. “So, you know, the first few times were very difficult. My eyes tearing up and swelling and, you know, skin irritations… all kinds.”

Despite his body’s rejection of the creatures, Elba admits it was worth it in the end.

“I fell in love with the connection. The horse doesn’t let you get on its back if it doesn’t want you to be on its back. It would just let you know that you have to get off.”

Fortunately for Elba, there was an unusual remedy that seemed to keep his horse allergies under control better than antihistamines. “Pickle juice,” he says. “You drink some pickle juice and it really helps.” 

Elba also explained why the untold story of the Fletcher Street Stables and the long-standing, Black cowboy culture of Philadelphia was important to tell. 

CONCRETE COWBOY – (L-R) Lorraine Toussaint as Nessi and Caleb McLaughlin as Cole. Cr: Jessica Kourkounis / Netflix © 2021

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“I think that more than any other time, people want to give a sense of where they are, who they are, where they’ve come from, and I think that’s why this story, being a very small story about Philadelphia, really represents people that don’t have as much of a voice and it’s sad nobody knows about them,” he says.

“This is their land. This is where they come from. And that’s why it’s important more than any time recently. This time it’s important to show where you’re from and hopefully that resonates with the film.” 

Check out our full interview with Idris Elba and Caleb McLaughlin, above. 

Concrete Cowboy is streaming now on Netflix. 

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