Black English actor Idris Elba has disclosed that he was troubled by a racist backlash he suffered following reports he could replace Daniel Craig as James Bond. In recent times, people have suggested a host of actors who could play 007 once Craig retires from the role.
Names such as Michael Fassbender, Tom Hardy, David Oyelowo (who voices the character in the audiobooks) and Henry Cavill have all come up, but there was only one actor almost everyone was still rooting for to be the next James Bond – Idris Elba.
Elba as Bond has been in the news since 2014, when, according to media reports, emails released during the massive Sony hack revealed that then-studio co-chair Amy Pascal told a colleague, “Idris should be the next Bond.”
Elba has, however, for some years now maintained that he is not going to play James Bond, even suggesting that a woman should play that role. It has now emerged that even though many wanted the Luther star to take the Bond role, others felt that such a role should not be played a black man or someone who is not white or British.
These comments hit hard at Elba.
“You just get disheartened,” he told Vanity Fair. “When you get people from a generational point of view going, ‘It can’t be.’ And it really turns out to be the colour of my skin. And then if I get it and it didn’t work or it did work, would it be because of the colour of my skin? That’s a difficult position to put myself into when I don’t need to.”
He, however, admitted that he is intrigued by the idea of a black James Bond and that if the role was offered to him, he would take it.
“James Bond is a hugely coveted, iconic, beloved character that takes audiences on this massive escapism journey,” he said.
“Of course, if someone said to me, ‘Do you want to play James Bond?’ I’d be like, ‘Yeah,’ that’s fascinating to me.”
“But it’s not something I’ve expressed, like, ‘Yeah, I wanna be the black James Bond. Because by the way, we’re talking about a spy. If you really want to break it down, the more less-obvious it is, the better.”
Last year, one individual who was publicly against the idea of Elba playing bond was journalist Katie Hopkins.
“The point is that to me, Bond is a white MI5/MI6 guy. It would be weird for me as a viewer if Bond was black.”
“I am thrilled if Idris Elba wants to create a new spy franchise around Idris and have some creativity of his own but why is it that these other individuals always have to take over roles that are typically being cast as white people,” she said.
Elba did not respond to the comments. The British actor, musician and DJ was born to immigrant working-class parents – his father was from Sierra Leone, and his mother was born in Ghana.
He was brought up in east London before finding fame in America. He is best known for playing Nelson Mandela in the biographical film Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom (2013), drug trafficker Stringer Bell on the HBO series The Wire, and DCI John Luther on the BBC One series Luther.
The TV and film star has been nominated four times for a Golden Globe Award for Best Actor – Miniseries or Television Film, winning one and was nominated five times for a Primetime Emmy Award.
Elba made headlines this April when he married his fiancée, Sabrina Dhowre, in a three-day ceremony in Morocco. The two, who got engaged in 2018, exchanged vows at the Ksar Char Bagh hotel in Marrakesh on Friday, April 26.
Elba, who is a father to 17-year-old daughter Isan and 4-year-old son Winston, previously married Hanne Norgaard and Sonya Hamlin.