The Brit headed to the U.S. in 1999 to pursue his fledgling acting career, and has previously recounted how he spent several weeks homeless and living in his car.
Now Elba has revealed he even stooped to selling bags of marijuana on the streets of the Big Apple in a desperate bid to make ends meet.
He tells Us Weekly magazine, "I was running with cats. I mean, I was DJ'ing, but I was also pushing bags of weed; I was doing my work. I had to. I know that sounds corny, but this is the truth."