The Conversation: Could There Ever Be a Black James Bond?

The Conversation: Could There Ever Be a Black James Bond?

Sep 30, 2011


Can any iconic character be given a race adjustment? We've seen debates recently with Spider-Man and Superman, and now the question of whether or not James Bond can be black is up for discussion. Actually, most people seem to be all for the next 007 being black, especially if he's played by Idris Elba (An Essence poll is currently at 98.3% favorable, while an US Weekly poll is 58% favorable). The rising British actor, best known for his role as Stringer Bell on The Wire, would also be interested if given the opportunity -- with one little request, which he told NPR this week:

"I just don't want to be the black James Bond," he says. "Sean Connery wasn't the Scottish James Bond, and Daniel Craig wasn't the blue-eyed James Bond, so if I played him, I don't want to be called the black James Bond."

Of course, he would be called that. Probably not in the movie, but by nearly everyone outside the movie, whether they're protesting or celebrating or just simply addressing the casting. He'd be called that even if it weren't a James Bond movie. He could simply star in a purely original spy movie and he'd likely still be called the black James Bond. If the xXx franchise were based in England, Ice Cube would likely have been referred to as a black 007. 

I don't imagine EON Productions would ever do this anymore than Warner Bros. would do a black Superman movie (other than Steel, that is), but hopefully Elba could forgive the certainty of the label since people all over the Internet would love to see him don a tux and succeed Daniel Craig as Bond. Fan approval aside, though, he might have to fight Jamie Foxx for the part, or maybe David Alan Grier:


Here's what they're saying about Idris Elba as James Bond around the blogosphere:


This should happen immediately - Christopher Rosen, Moviefone

Finally, a James Bond actor I could get behind. . . or under - Joanna Robinson, Pajiba

The dapper actor with an English accent would be an obvious choice to play James Bond [...] And we'd be right there to watch. - Kevin L. Clark, Complex

Anyone excited about the idea of a black James Bond (don't tell Elba I said that) should check out the actor's past work on The Wire -- he has both the acting chops and the physical presence to take Ian Fleming's classic espionage agent to new heights. - Jeffery Rachef, LimeLife

Well, truthfully Daniel Craig was often dubbed "the blonde Bond" by tabloids when he first took on the role, but I understand what Elba's getting at. I suspect it would be inevitable that he'd be referred to as the first black Bond, regardless of whether or not it would be appropriate, but I can tell you one thing: I'd be calling him the sexiest Bond, because mrrrrrrroow. - Linda Sharps, The Stir

I’m ready for the series to get its sense of humor and charm back. Elba could do that. The man has panache, depth, and a knowing sense of humor. Watching the shallow, race-obsessed Left celebrate the color of his skin would be nauseating (who cares that he’s black?), but it would be more than worth it. - John Nolte, Big Hollywood

I stil [sic] think Hugh Jackman is an obvious and very good fit but Idris would be great, and it would be a good way to incorporate the very cool theory that James Bond is not an actual person but a code name passed from spy to spy the same way “007″ is. If they added that it might help ease any racial stuff. They shouldn’t have him smoking Newports instead of Chesterfields, or ordering a purple drank shaken not stirred though, because that would be too much. - Brendon, What Would Tyler Durden Do?


And on Twitter:

@EddieMetSalad: Stringer Bell as James Bond? Yes please. Where do I sign up?

@amandaseales: Id love 2 c Idris Elba as the new bond! That wld b awesome! Puff cld nvr b Bond bcuz 007 doesn't wear lipgloss.

@i_throw_spears: Idris Elba playing james bond would actually be a good look

@lovemegos: Oh that would be major and dope 

@tadiwa: Oooh, yes please!

@ladamenoire: For the record? I would FREAK if Idris Elba got to play James Bond. He is AMAZING. 

@JaviFuentes: I agree with Idris Elba that, should he be offered the part, he should just be the next Bond, not the first black Bond.

@holler_gal: Idris Elba as James Bond? That would be the first 007 since Timothy Dalton in 1989 I'd watch, yay!

@E_NiColeG: I would most definitely pay to see the next James Bond movie if it starred

@mrlwe: Listen, Daniel Craig, I like you and all? But if Idris Elba wants to be James Bond, you should probably just let him.

@petestuart: Idris Elba for James Bond? Sound like an amazing idea to me. Hope it happens!

@fuzzytypewriter: I think Idris Elba would be a cool James Bond, but Luther is a far more interesting character and property.


Official Conversation Poll: Could/should there ever be a black James Bond? And if so, is Idris Elba the best choice?

@FyodorFish: Yes and yes. Happy to oblige.

@filmcave: Yes. Yes.

@jbdcampbell: Um, duh. Yes. 

@bensower: I would vote for him if there was one. I would have no qualms with it.

@whatcameoutofme: obviously it should be Tim Meadows


Follow Christopher Campbell on Twitter (@thefilmcynic) to join The Conversation.

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