Idris Elba used to get eggs thrown at him because he is black.

The 'Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom' actor and his classmates were targeted by racists as they got on the bus outside their east London school.

He recalled: ''My school, Trinity, was just off the Barking Road, which would take all the National Front supporters to the football at West Ham.

''They'd come past our school, and if we got on that bus on a game day... mate, if you were Indian or black you were getting it. Eggs thrown at you, the whole thing.''

Idris - whose mother, Eve, is Ghanian and father, Winston, was from Sierra Leone - had never experienced ''racial tension'' growing up until his family moved from Hackney to the nearby Canning Town area of the capital.

He told the Daily Telegraph newspaper: ''I'd been shielded from racial tension, but when we moved I felt it full whack.

''It was a National Front area and there were no black people.

''I remember walking down the street and being called a black ****. No one talked like that in Hackney.''

Last week, the 44-year-old star - who has daughter Isan, 14, and son Winston, two, from past relationships - launched an impassioned attack on the UK government for abolishing housing benefit for 18-21 year olds while compering a fund-raising gig for homeless charity Shelter, and he felt compelled to speak out after finding himself living in a van when he relocated to New York to further his career in his 20s.

He explained: ''I didn't make that speech as an actor.

''I made it as someone who found themselves homeless at 26.

''OK, you might say, 'It's New York. You wanted to go and act and you ran out of money. Do you expect a hand-out from New Yorkers?' No.

''But when it's happening in my own country the fight against homelessness really resonates with me.''