Idris Elba talks backlash to 007 casting because of race

Idris Elba as Luther
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The Luther star Idris Elba reflects on his time in the spotlight as the potential next James Bond. 

Idris Elba’s name was linked to discussions about the next James Bond for years. Being constantly in the conversation when it came to playing one of the world’s most iconic characters must be akin to standing in the glare of a spotlight, and the actor himself has opened up about the range of feelings that come along with that.

Talking to the SmartLess podcast, Elba talked about how flattering it was initially. “The truth is, I was super complimented for a long time about this. I was like ‘this is crazy!’ James Bond…We’re all actors and we understand that role. It’s one of those coveted [roles]. Being asked to be James Bond was like ‘okay, you’ve sort of reached the pinnacle’. That’s one of those things the whole world has a vote in.”

However, despite Elba’s clear suitability for the role there were some folks that were against the idea, not because of Elba’s undoubted abilities as an actor, but because of the colour of his skin. As the actor admits, this made the whole process very difficult to deal with. “Essentially, it was a huge compliment that every corner of the world except for some corners, which we will not talk about, were really happy about the idea that I could be considered,” he says.

“Those that weren’t happy about the idea made the whole thing disgusting and off-putting because it became about race. It became about nonsense and I got the brunt of it,” he adds. As it turned out, Daniel Craig would stay on as Bond for one more film, but that one more film (No Time To Die) would take another six years to release. During that time, Elba hit his fifties and effectively aged out of the role.

For many, Elba will remain as one of the biggest ‘what could have been’ stories, when it comes to 007 casting, ranking right up there with Hugh Jackman reportedly turning down the role. As the next round of Bond casting continues, we hope time allows Elba – pictured here in Luther  – to look back on the process positively and remember that despite some negativity, there was a huge legion of fans that wanted him in the role because they valued (and still do) his talent, charisma and unmatched cool.

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