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‘Made The Whole Thing Disgusting and Off-Putting’: Idris Elba Says Discourse ‘About Race’ Made Him Lose Interest In Playing 007 Agent James Bond

Actor Idris Elba has opened up with a revelation about the real reason he no longer wants to play James Bond.

Fans have been vying for the 50-year-old to play the 007 character most recently played by Daniel Craig in the film “No Time to Die.” He went into further detail about his role during an appearance on the “Smartless” podcast.

The main character from Ian Fleming’s novels has also been portrayed in films by other British actors since the 1960s. That includes Pierce Brosnan, Sean Connery, Timothy Dalton, Roger Moore, David Niven and George Lazenby.

The Harder They Fall World Premiere - 65th BFI London Film Festival - VIP Access
London England – Oct. 06: Idris Elba attends world premiere of “The Harder They Fall” during the 65th BFI London Film Festival at The Mayfair Hotel on Oct. 6, 2021, in London, England. (Photo by Dave J Hogan/Getty Images)

“The truth is, I was super complimented for a long time about this,” said Elba in an early preview of the podcast shared with Variety and CNN. “I was like, ‘This is crazy!’ James Bond.”

“We’re all actors and we understand that role,” he continued. “It’s like being named sexiest man. It’s one of those coveted [roles]. Being asked to be James Bond was like, ‘Ok, you’ve sort of reached the pinnacle.’ That’s one of those things the whole world has a vote in.”

Elba  — who was named the Sexiest Man Alive by People Magazine in 2018 — went on to say that the racist backlash he received over possibly playing James Bond made him reconsider.

“Essentially, it was a huge compliment that every corner of the world except from some corners, which we will not talk about, were really happy about the idea that I could be considered,” he said. “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.”

Despite Elba’s impressive work playing a detective on the British television action series “Luther” and in multiple films, some had plenty to say. This includes writer Anthony Horowitz who wrote that Elba was “too street” to play James Bond. He later apologized for his “clumsily” remark.

While Horowitz initially thought Elba wasn’t an acceptable James Bond, Oscar-winning actor Tom Hanks disagreed. He strongly advocated for Elba to play the 007 agent during a chat with BBC News.

“Understand this,” said Hanks. “James Bond has a license to kill. I would issue that license to Idris Elba just based on the work that I’ve seen him do.”

Fans also advocated on social media for Elba.

“He would make a great James Bond,” wrote one.

“Thing is he would have been a great Bond,” echoed another fan.

“I think he’d make a great bond, i think he’s charismatic, can do action stuff, looks good in a suit and can act,” noted a third user.

“If I were@idriselba? I’d do it just to spite them… he’d do an amazing job and would probably become a favorite 007.”

Elba may no longer be considering playing James Bond, but he is currently lighting up the small screen in his new series “Hijack” on Apple TV+.

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