Idris Elba Explains Why He's Not Interested In Playing James Bond

The veteran actor has opened up about how racism chased him from the "dream role" of many actors.

BYBen Mock
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Playing James Bond is considered one of the most prestigious roles in Hollywood. Just seven actors have played the iconic British spy since he was brought to the big screen in 1962. When each Bond retires, there is a wave of speculation on who might play him next. Given his veteran presence in the acting world, Idris Elba has not been immune to this speculation.

After Daniel Craig made it clear that he was done with Bond after SPECTRE, Elba's name was one of several seen as a serious contender to fill the role. While Craig would return for No Time To Die, Elba was still viewed as a favorite to take up the mantle in the future. However, in a new interview with the SmartLess podcast, Elba has explained why he's no longer interested in playing 007.

Racism Steered Elba Away From Bond

NEW YORK, NEW YORK - MAY 01: Idris Elba attends the 2023 Met Gala Celebrating "Karl Lagerfeld: A Line Of Beauty" at Metropolitan Museum of Art on May 01, 2023 in New York City. (Photo by Jeff Kravitz/FilmMagic)

Elba was initially excited about the speculation. “The truth is, I was super complimented for a long time about this,” Elba admitted. “I was like, ‘This is cr*zy!’ James Bond…We’re all actors and we understand that role. 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.” However, the subsequent racist backlash inevitably moved Elba away from playing the character. "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,” Elba explained.

“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.” Elba's views were somewhat validated by the latest Bond film to date, No Time To Die. The film, which featured Lashana Lynch as an MI6 agent who is briefly assigned the 007 moniker, received considerable backlash from those same people about making James Bond a black woman (which the film doesn't do in the slightest).

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About The Author
Benjamin Mock (they/them) is a sports and culture writer working out of Philadelphia. Previously writing for the likes of Fixture, Dexerto, Fragster, and Jaxon, Ben has dedicated themselves to engaging and accessible articles about sports, esports, and internet culture. With a love for the weirder stories, you never quite know what to expect from their work.