James Bond is a character who exists in the rarefied air of an icon among icons. His films are a brilliant mixture of action, mystery, thriller, and romance. Women want him, and men want to be him. For 57 years, he’s been the epitome of the sleek, debonair gentleman (who could also kill you with a toothpick). Since 1962’s Dr. No, Agent 007 has been portrayed by no less than seven actors. They’ve all had their own unique ways of bringing him to life, but the seven do have one thing in common – they’ve all been white men.
That in itself isn’t a problem, as the superspy on her majesty’s secret service was originally written as Caucasian in the novels by Ian Fleming. However, limiting him to only ever being white cuts out a huge number of talented actors of color who could potentially take on the role in the future.
One particular actor has been mentioned a great deal in the last few years as possibly being the next Bond: Luther star Idris Elba. He’s got all the qualifications – ridiculously talented, suave as hell, certified Sexy Bastard, and plenty of experience with action, mystery, and all the other genres uniquely mixed in the series. And of course, being British is an unofficial box to check as well.
But he’s black. While those of us who aren’t dragging our knuckles don’t care at all, some are nevertheless up in arms at the possibility. For some, it’s simply the deviation from the norm; they want what’s familiar. For others, however, not-so-latent racism is clearly their true issue.
And that makes Idris Elba sad, as well it should. In 2019, this shouldn’t still be an issue. But it is for some moviegoers. Speaking to Vanity Fair, he described his feelings on the vocal minority’s reactions.
“James Bond is a hugely coveted, iconic, beloved character, that takes audiences on this massive escapism journey,” he explained. “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. You just get disheartened 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.”
Personally, I myself and we at ScreenGeek fully support the possibility of casting Elba as Bond. But we’d like to hear your thoughts as well. Please tell us in the comments if you’re for or against the idea, and why.
The untitled 25th 007 film will be released in 2020.