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Yaphet Kotto Slams Idea of a Black James Bond as ‘Silly,’ Ignoring the Racial Disparities That Still Plague Hollywood

Yaphet-Kotto-Live-and-Let-DieLooks like Deadline’s Nellie Andreeva may have a new best friend.

Shortly after Andreeva penned an article criticizing the fact that Black stars were getting roles that weren’t originally written for Black characters, actor Yaphet Kotto is mirroring those sentiments in relation to the upcoming James Bond flick.

Kotto, the actor who played the first and only Black bond villain back in 1973, criticized the idea of a Black man playing James Bond as “silly” because the character was originally written to be a white man.

It’s a shocking statement following the release of emails that revealed former Sony Pictures Entertainment co-chairwoman Amy Pascal advocating for Idris Elba to star as the special agent hero in the upcoming Bond movie, Spectre, slated for a November 2015 release.

There has been a great push for more diversity in Hollywood in recent months, so many were happily welcoming rumors that Sony may be introducing the first Black Bond in their new film.

Kotto, on the other hand, is clearly against the idea.

“James Bond cannot be Black,” Kotto charged in a recent interview with The Big Issue. “Political correctness be damned, we have to stay with what is literally correct.”

According to Kotto, the “literally” correct interpretation of Bond must always be a white man.

“He was established by Ian Fleming as a white character,” he continued. “It’s silly.”

It’s the same type of claim that critics presented when actor Michael B. Jordan was selected to take on the role of the Fantastic Four’s Johnny Storm or when Elba took on the role of Heimdall in Thor: The Dark World.

Kotto’s comments add to a growing list of claims that Black actors should not be allowed to take on “traditionally white” roles even if they were created during a time when racism discouraged writers from coming up with Black characters.

“I don’t think it’s right for Black actors or writers to do roles that whites have made historically white heroic roles,” Kotto continued. “These roles are not written for Black men. Black men should stop trying to play white heroes. We have pens. Put a Black man in a role that no one else has established.”

Of course, Kotto’s suggestion for more Black people to pick up their own pen and write more Black stories ignores the fact that there isn’t actually a shortage of writers who want to tell the stories of authentic Black characters.

What tends to be the case is that Black writers, filmmakers and talent are shut out of Hollywood as distributors turn their backs on them and financial backing becomes nearly impossible to attain.

Racial disparities still plague Hollywood’s landscape even as Black stars have filled a few lead roles on TV.

Kotto’s comments seem to overlook this fact and suggest that Black stars should never have the opportunity to take on the widely popular and hugely profitable superhero franchises that have historically only featured white heroes.

What people are saying

4 thoughts on “Yaphet Kotto Slams Idea of a Black James Bond as ‘Silly,’ Ignoring the Racial Disparities That Still Plague Hollywood

  1. He's correct to a certain degree. Why most we keep depending upon or having to get permission from them to play their roles. Listen we have all these wealthy black actors & actresses, film makers and producers and writers and athletes who are quick to make a coon movie(unless it has a point like how Spike Lee did with Bamboozled). Let's make our own heroes & heroine movies. Why wait on White America, do you see Bollywood or the African or Caribbean filmmaker waiting on them? NO! look at where Tyler Perry came from, use his studio, gather together like how they did Malcolm X and do the same thing for fiction, non-fiction and sci-fi films. just if we're going to make the superhero roles, no more Meteor Man or Blank Man. leave those boofoonary movies on the drawing board. if we can come up with and go all out to watch Empire, we surely can do some Donald Goines and Iceberg slim books. how about a remake for Shaka Zulu let someone tell George Washington Carver's story…all those stores whites do we can do and better, we have a whole history of stories waiting and wanting to be told.and don't say money is a problem, we have the internet and Africa and the Caribbean. forget having a black man step into a white role, Shaft was our James Bond, we need to go back to the 70s and early 80s. forget trying to step into their shoes. we still trying to make "massa" feel comfortable ain't that right Tom…stand up Nat and Ms.Tubman's of the you want to be Fredrick Douglass or Cottonman? Big Mama or Queen? the choice is yours(ours).
    I'm not against white people, because I've had a few look out more than my own kind…i'm just saying we don't have to get their permission, don't forget whose god and made in his image…not that we're better because we're Black but just unique and the orginal. I'm just for us doing our own roles, creating our own no more of this sitting at the table with the enemy(and that includes some Blacks and Hispanics who are more than willing to sell us out and don't have or respect knowledge of self). MLK's plan for integration has made us become more like the people we were fighting against. we still live in segregated communities and schools and businesses. we have less Black businesses now than during the 20s-60s yet we have more money…
    so ask yourself…follow the master and get crumbs or become and reclaim the master or our destiny that the true MASTER…GOD put us here to become…if I'm going to receive crumbs, I rather get it from GOD than man…

  2. Yaphet Kotto is a hundred percent right. We don't need white hand me downs. I love what he said: we have pens. Let's create our own heroes. Diversity in Hollywood is getting better, just look at the Fast and Furious movie series. We must break the glass ceiling. Enough whining.

  3. A couple of things trouble me. First, the headline is misleading…nowhere in the piece is there a quote that indicates Kotto's views on racial disparities in Hollywood. Secondly, why is there only one opinion accepted on any given discussion on race within the black community? Secondly, Kotto is right in that there certainly MUST be talented black writers who have crafted heroic characters that bear our cultural DNA. Why not go there?

  4. I'm so sorry for replying so late, but exactly. EXACTLY!

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