Why Idris Elba Will Not Be James Bond
Fans may want Idris Elba as James Bond, but that doesn’t mean it will happen.
Recently the internet blew up over an article with Anthony Horowitz, writer of the latest James Bond novel. In addition to promoting his new book, he also got on the topic of the last Bond film “Skyfall” (which he didn’t like) and then briefly weighed in on the Idris Elba as James Bond debate.
“For me, Idris Elba is a bit too rough to play the part. It’s not a color issue. I think he is probably a bit too “street” for Bond.”
That last part is what has the internet all up in arms and led to a lot of people campaigning for Idris Elba to get the role. Even the actor himself has started encouraging it among his fans. Unfortunately while it’s nice to see the internet back this progressive idea of being okay with a black actor playing James Bond, I’m sorry but it’s just not going to happen; at least not with Idris Elba. This is akin to back in the 90s where all the horror fans were certain Bruce Campbell would break into the mainstream or more recently with Nathan Fillion being proclaimed “perfect” for every role that came up. It’s nice to see the fans so passionate but sadly some things just don’t happen.
Now quickly before we begin I’d just like to say I don’t think that Author Anthony Horowitz is racist from his comment. I’m going to give him the benefit of the doubt because that’s the kind of person I am. But I do think that he didn’t choose the best way to communicate his idea. First off, I can see what he means. Depending on what films of Idris Elba’s you’ve seen, a part of his persona is a very blue collar kind of guy like the Captain in “Prometheus” or the General in “Pacific Rim.” But even just seeing him in the “Thor” movies show off how in just a few minutes on screen he can make a really memorable character and imbue that character with a lot of nobility and grace. So yes, I could see how someone might come to that conclusion if you only saw some of his movies but not others. However, with all that said I still disagree. My favorite Bond actor is Sean Connery, an actor who a lot of people (even Bond creator Ian Fleming) thought was too unrefined to be Bond. But then he not only proves them wrong but goes to show how some of that “roughness” was a good quality that made his Bond stronger. The same could be said for Daniel Craig and everyone was again proven wrong. Even Anthony Horowitz admitted liking him. So in conclusion I don’t think Horowitz is being racist, I just think his opinion is wrong and he didn’t pick his words especially well.
What I hoped to illustrate with that last paragraph (as well as addressing the criticisms for and against Idris Elba) is that I know my James Bond history and I’d like to think I know or at least have an understanding of Idris Elba as an actor. Make no mistake Mr. Elba is a great actor (something Horowitz did say in the same article). It’s totally understandable why many of his fans are rallying to him being able to play James Bond. Me personally, I think he’d probably make a good Bond. Also I personally don’t have a problem with the idea in general of there being a black actor playing Bond. A lot of the points I made earlier have been pointed out by other fans. But as I said at the beginning at this article it’s time to just be realistic. The reality of the situation is that he is only 4 years younger than Daniel Craig. In addition, as far as I know Craig is still signed for 2 more Bond films and it takes quite some time in-between the making of each Bond film. So, by the time Craig is ready to leave the role he’ll probably be considerably older. Now the reason that’s significant is that when they recast these kinds of roles they go younger with the newer actors because they want to be able to get as many films out of the new blood as possible. So even if they did go with Idris Elba it would basically be out with the old actor in with another old actor. Remember back when Pierce Brosnan was replaced with Daniel Craig? Craig was 13 years younger. Also let’s not forget that the Bond series likes to go with more unknowns for its roles. Sure they’ll occasionally go for a big name (ex. Christopher Walken in “A View To A Kill”) but for Bond himself they like to be the ones to “discover” him. That’s why I don’t think Clive Owen was ever a real contender for the role back in the day.
So I hate to be the one to rain on everyone’s parade but Idris Elba as 007 is not going to happen. Is it fair? No and it’s shame that he as an actor falls into just the right area to not even be a real candidate. Who would I pick as James Bond? I have no clue, I’m more just along for the ride. A black actor as James Bond, I think we’ll probably see that in our lifetime. It just won’t be Idris Elba.