The talk surrounding Idris Elba playing James Bond has been going on for a little while now, and it seemed to peak after a Hollywood Reporter survey showed that 63 percent of people in the U.S. want him to snag the role after Daniel Craig exits.
But on the flip side, many said the part shouldn’t be played by a black man or anyone else who isn’t white and British. And those kind of remarks have soured Elba to the role, even though he never actually pursued it.
“You just get disheartened,” he told Vanity Fair. “When you get people from a generational point of view going, ‘It can’t be.’ And it really turns out to be the color of my skin. And then if I get it and it didn’t work or it did work, would it be because of the color of my skin? That’s a difficult position to put myself into when I don’t need to.”
Elba does find the idea of a black James Bond intriguing, however, and said if someone really wanted him to play the role he wouldn’t turn it down.
“James Bond is a hugely coveted, iconic, beloved character that takes audiences on this massive escapism journey,” he explained.
“Of course, if someone said to me, ‘Do you want to play James Bond?’ I’d be like, ‘Yeah,’ that’s fascinating to me,” he added. “But it’s not something I’ve expressed, like, ‘Yeah, I wanna be the black James Bond. Because by the way, we’re talking about a spy. If you really want to break it down, the more less-obvious it is, the better.”
One person who was very outspoken about not wanting Elba to play Bond was conservative British journalist Katie Hopkins, who brought up race.
“No Idris Elba, you cannot be James Bond,” wrote Hopkins last year. “It’s not because you’re a gentleman of color. It’s because James Bond isn’t. He’s written as an upper-class, arrogant white … Must we perpetually crowbar-in gender and color in where it doesn’t fit?”
The former “The Wire” star didn’t respond to Hopkins, but Ice-T did and he defended the actor by tweeting “This b-tch sounds stupid.”
Next for Elba is the film “Fast & Furious Presents: Hobbs & Shaw,” which opens August 2. He’ll also lend his voice to the upcoming animated film “Cats” and be in “The Suicide Squad,” which hits theaters in 2021.