*Idris Elba, 42, has been discussed as a possibility to play James Bond ever since leaked Sony emails revealed he was in the mix to replace Daniel Craig.
But we may never see him in the role if new Bond author Anthony Horowitz had his way.
Horowitz, who has penned the next 007 novel, “Trigger Mortis,” for the Fleming Estate, thinks Elba is “too street” to play the iconic British spy, and would rather see other black actors in the role.
“Idris Elba is a terrific actor, but I can think of other black actors who would do it better,” Horowitz said in an interview with the Daily Mail.
He mentions actor Adrian Lester, star of “Hustle.”
“For me, Idris Elba is a bit too rough to play the part,” Horowitz continued. “It’s not a color issue. I think he is probably a bit too ‘street’ for Bond. Is it a question of being suave? Yeah.”
Backlash against Horowitz has been swift, with several columnists accusing the author of having racist views:
Kwame Opam of TheVerge.com:
“Saying any accomplished black actor is too “street” to play a traditionally white role is the kind of thinly veiled racism that makes it so hard to advance any character in pop culture. Let’s put the fact that Elba has stated he’s no longer interested in playing Bond aside. Not suave? Are you kidding? What does that even mean? It can’t be the iconic sophistication. Just look at him on the cover of Vanity Fair last year.”
Maurice Mcleod of The Guardian:
“Ignoring the fact that Elba is an accomplished actor who has expertly adapted to play an American gangster, a Norse god and a South African icon, Horowitz feels that the British actor lacks the ability to be suave. James Bond has an exalted position in British culture. He is the symbol of a Britain and a Britishness that probably never really existed. This makes it hard to define or emulate his qualities: quintessentially British means different things to different people. …In the writer’s view, Elba just doesn’t measure up, but if suave means charming, sophisticated, charismatic and gallant, I know dozens of girls and a more than a few guys who would very much beg to differ.”
Elba’s fans also spoke out on social media, saying Horowitz was using coded language that actually signaled an objection to a black man playing 007. Said one on Twitter: “@idriselba is the definition of a dapper English bloke. Get out of here.” Added a female fan: “too ‘street’ is code for ‘too black;’ truth is men want to be @idriselba & women want to be w him.”
The debate is essentially moot at this point, given that Daniel Craig is not leaving the role anytime soon, notes Variety. “Skyfall,” the last film in the franchise, was the highest grossing of the Bond films. Expectations are high for “Spectre,” a Sony release that is due in theaters Nov. 6.
According to Variety, people who know Elba said he would like to play the iconic secret agent, if the role becomes available. But he has said he would not want the role as a racial type.
“I just don’t want to be the black James Bond,” Elba told NPR in 2011. “Sean Connery wasn’t the Scottish James Bond and Daniel Craig wasn’t the blue-eyed James Bond, so if I played him, I don’t want to be called the black James Bond.”