Press and movie fans seemingly championed for years the idea of Idris Elba taking over the Bond franchise from Daniel Craig, once he retires the role. However, there was certainly a minority of voice that scoffed at the idea because Elba being black and James Bond traditionally being white.
While speaking to Vanity Fair, Elba revealed while he’d be interested in playing Bond, but was disheartened when there was a small backlash over the idea of a black actor portraying a traditionally white fictional character.
Elba confirms for me that this is not happening and adds that he doesn’t love to talk about it. “James Bond is a hugely coveted, iconic, beloved character, that takes audiences on this massive escapism journey,” he says. “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.” He now has fun with the rumormongering, riling up fans with 007-esque tweets and a selfie with Daniel Craig.
It’s almost disappointing. The idea of a black 007 is intriguing, even opportune for a narrative shakedown or two. Picture it: a Bond whose advantages include not being the white guy everyone thinks they’re hunting for, but someone black, or a woman—or both. Blaxploitation movies used to make fun of scenarios like this, as have countless undercover-cop movies. “Because, by the way,” Elba says, “we’re talking about a spy. If you really want to break it down, the more less-obvious it is, the better.”
Which hasn’t made him any more eager to have the conversation. Here, his nonchalance wavers a little. “You just get disheartened,” he says, “when you get people from a generational point of view going, ‘It can’t be.’ And it really turns out to be the color of my skin. And then if I get it and it didn’t work, or it did work, would it be because of the color of my skin? That’s a difficult position to put myself into when I don’t need to.”
That horrible distasteful racist backlash may have been a contributing factor to why EON/MGM brought the franchise back to Jamaica (where Ian Flemming wrote the books), we’ll also see at least three key roles played by black actors with Naomie Harris as former field MI6 Agent Moneypenny, Jeffrey Wright back as CIA Agent Felix Leiter, and the new addition of Latasha Lynch as Nomi (expected to be another Agent).
The very first promotional material from the studio happened to highlight those Jamaica scenes.
With EON/MGM casting black actors to play both franchise characters, Moneypenny and Felix, it doesn’t seem that hard to imagine an actor of color playing the new James Bond down the line.
Who knows who they’ll ultimately cast in the role? Nobody really knows what they’ll do and tabloids scramble to come up with a new top-contender every couple of months (those reports are mostly made up).
I’m not terribly sure if many people know that Bond wasn’t Scottish until Sean Connery took the role, we’ve also seen actors from Ireland and Australia play Bond. He’s a British spy and as long as he stays a British spy, I don’t think it really matters what 007 looks like given how diverse the country has been for decades along with their global intelligence services and many of those faces aren’t white.
You’d wish people would be more open-minded, but not everyone thinks like that.
SOURCE: VANITY FAIR