Author Anthony Horowitz recently called Idris Elba “too street” to play Bond. The writer of the next James Bond novel later apologized for making the comment and stated that he did not mean to call Idris Elba not Bond enough to play the 007 agent’s role. In reality, the star was real enough to play Luther and Mandela, but he might be “too real” to be James Bond. Looking back at the previous actors playing the main role in 007 movies, it is true that he is not your usual Bond, even though he was voted one of the 100 most beautiful people in 2007.
The British actor made his career by playing main roles in crime drama series, such as Luther and the Wire, he does not have a reputation of being a classy spy. In his role in Luther, he plays a murder detective, and in his most recent large-scale movie, Mandela, he is a spiritual leader. That considered, it might be fair to call Idris Elba not Bond enough for the role of the top spy, but he is certainly the charming hero that millions of television and cinema fans have already fallen in love with. He has played several characters that viewers could relate to and got to like.
The 2012 Golden Globe winner for the “Best Performance by an Actor in a Mini-Series or a Motion Picture Made for Television” arguably have the skills to play the charming secret agent, even if it means that he would be the first non-white James Bond in history. Thankfully, the actor did not take the comment to his heart. He is too busy working on The Trap, due to be released in 2017, the new Star Trek movie, and Bastille Day. Maybe he simply let the comment go, knowing that there are other roles awaiting for him in the near future.
Fans on Twitter reacted furiously to the comments, though, and claimed that they were racially motivated. One of the famous fans, Azealia Banks, a singer has commented that the directors and writers did not want a black Bond because no white actor could step up to the challenge after Idris Elba played the super-spy. Another tweeter simply stated that the remark was coded racism.
The main question is whether or not main roles should be and could be played by African-American actors. Looking at the statistics, it is evident that the trend is changing. According to the Deadline Magazine, TV show producers are now more likely to recruit ethnic minority actors and actresses than ever before. The Hollywood Diversity Report of 2014 states that minority actors were significantly underrepresented in lead roles in years 2011-2012 on cable TV, taking less than 15 percent of the total lead roles. Interestingly, however, according to the report, the TV dramas and series that reflected the ethnic diversity of the U.S. achieved a higher viewer rating.
The writer of the new James Bond movie, Trigger Mortis, Anthony Horowitz has been working on the novel for a long time. He might indeed have an ideal candidate in mind for James Bond, who is paired with a new girl. From the extracts of the book, it is clear that Bond will be the thinking spy, who will be supported by his colleagues and make a plot to outsmart the several villains in the movie. While most Bond films are packed with action on the street, fast cars, and pretty strong women, it is after all, possible to judge Idris Elba not Bond enough for 007. He might be known as a smart cop on the screen, but a bit too rough for the role of the thinking, cunning, and manipulative secret agent who sees through fake smiles and expensive gifts.
By Laura Farkas
Gossip Cop: Idris Elba ‘James Bond’ Controversy: Fans React to Author’s “Too Street” Remark
007 James: Who Played James Bond.
Deadline: Pilots 2015: The Year of Ethnic Castings
Bunche Center: 2015 Hollywood Diversity Report: Flipping the Script.