Idris Elba Says He Was Put Off From Playing James Bond After “It Became About Race”

Getty / Lia Toby

There’s been a lot of speculation around Idris Elba being cast as the next 007 in the James Bond franchise, however, the 50-year-old actor recently admitted that he got turned off by the idea after the conversation became about race. During a June 2023 appearance on Will Arnett, Jason Bateman, and Sean Hayes’s “SmartLess” podcast (via Entertainment Weekly), Elba said he was initially “super complimented” by the speculation.

“I was like, ‘This is crazy!’ Because James Bond… We’re all actors and we understand that role. It’s one of those coveted [roles],” he said. “Being asked to be James Bond was like, ‘Okay, you’ve sort of reached the pinnacle.'”

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

In a 2022 interview with Deadline’s “Crew Call” podcast, executive producer Barbara Broccoli revealed that there had been talks around Elba being the franchise’s next star, although the official casting process hadn’t yet begun.

“Well, we know Idris, I’m friends with him and he’s a magnificent actor,” Broccoli said. “You know, it’s been part of the conversation, but it’s always difficult to have the conversation when you have someone in the seat. I think we have decided that until ‘No Time to Die’ has kind of had its run and [Daniel Craig] has been able to – well, we’ve all been able to – reap the benefits of Daniel’s wonderful tenure, we’re not gonna think about or talk about anybody else, actors to play the role or storylines or anything. We just want to live in the moment, the present.”

Daniel Craig made his debut as James Bond in 2006’s “Casino Royale” and continued his run until 2021’s “No Time to Die.” The film marked Craig’s final curtain call as the famous spy after being killed off in the movie, but Bond lives to fight another day as the film franchise continues.

In previous conversations over the years, actors like Cillian Murphy, Tom Hardy, Lashana Lynch, and Henry Cavill have been brought up as possible James Bond successors. But Elba’s name continues to circulate, and he sounds like a worthy candidate for the job – Sony Pictures executive Amy Pascal even wrote “Idris should be the next bond” in a leaked 2014 email. We’ll stay tuned until the news gets confirmed, but here’s hoping we get to see Elba don the Bond tuxedo.

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