Idris Elba says ‘disgusting’ racism put him off James Bond role

Elba was tipped to become the next James Bond as his fame grew while appearing in Luther
Elba was tipped to become the next James Bond as his fame grew while appearing in Luther - John Wilson/Netflix

Idris Elba has revealed he has been put off playing James Bond after being subjected to “disgusting” racism when rumours developed that he would take up the role.

The British actor has long been considered a potential frontrunner to replace Daniel Craig in upcoming Bond films.

However, Elba said the conversation about who should next play the fictional secret agent had been soured by racist reactions from some who claim he cannot play Bond because he is black.

In 2015, the author Anthony Horowitz caused outrage after he said the actor was “too street” to be Bond and later issued an apology.

Now the Luther star has spoken of the ordeal and how it was “off-putting” to the idea of becoming Bond.

‘It became about race’

Speaking to the SmartLess podcast hosted by actors Jason Bateman, Sean Hayes and Will Arnett, the 50-year-old said: “The truth is, I was super complimented for a long time about this.

“James Bond... 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.

“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.

“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.”

Idris Elba with Daniel Craig at the 2019 Golden Globes
Idris Elba took a picture of himself with Daniel Craig at the 2019 Golden Globes that nodded to the speculation over Elba taking over from Craig as 007

His remarks come despite clamour from some fans for him to replace Craig.

In October, Elba was voted the UK’s number one choice to replace Craig, ranking above actors such as Tom Hardy, Tom Hiddleston, James Norton and Henry Cavill, in a survey carried out by Showcase Cinemas.

Elba has previously distanced himself from playing Bond, insisting it was “not a goal for my career” last September.

Speaking to The Shop podcast alongside Drew Barrymore, he said: “It will definitely satisfy the will of a nation. I’m not gonna lie, every corner of the world I go, and I’m talking about different cultures, they always go ‘Bond,’ and I feel it is beyond me at this junction.

“It’s beyond me. You know, it’s not a question of, should I, do I, will I. It is what the will of the nation dictates sometimes.”

Daniel Craig gave his fifth and final portrayal in 2021 following the release of No Time to Die.

Some fans have speculated that should a female agent become the new 007, the mantle could be taken up by Bond’s own daughter, who is introduced in the latest instalment.

Bond girl Madeleine Swann, played by Lea Seydoux in the last two films, had a child with the spy, who is seen as a young girl in No Time To Die.

Producer Michael G Wilson has responded to such theorising by saying that all ideas on the future of Bond are “valid”.