Idris Elba Says He Was Interested in Portraying James Bond Until ‘It Became About Race’

Idris Elba recently opened up in a candid discussion about his experience being considered for the role of James Bond, revealing that he was discouraged from pursuing the role due to racial factors. During his appearance on the podcast SmartLess, hosted by Will Arnett, Jason Bateman, and Sean Hayes, the 50-year-old actor shared his initial excitement when rumors circulated about his potential portrayal of the iconic character. Elba compared it to being named “Sexiest Man Alive,” an accolade he received in 2018, and considered being approached for James Bond as the pinnacle of recognition.

Acknowledging the coveted nature of the role, Elba expressed gratitude for the widespread positive response to the idea of his casting, remarking that people from all corners of the world, except for a few contentious ones, were enthusiastic about the prospect. However, he lamented that certain individuals turned the discussion into a disheartening and divisive conversation about race, which he found distasteful and off-putting. Elba became the target of this negativity, detracting from the initial compliment he had received.

Daniel Craig most recently portrayed James Bond in the 2021 film “No Time To Die,” following the footsteps of previous actors who have taken on the role, such as Sean Connery, David Niven, George Lazenby, Roger Moore, Timothy Dalton, and Pierce Brosnan. Elba’s name entered the Bond conversation long before Craig’s departure, when Amy Pascal, a Sony Pictures executive, revealed in a leaked 2014 email that she believed Elba should be the next Bond. Barbara Broccoli, one of the franchise’s lead producers, confirmed in a podcast interview with Deadline’s Crew Call that Elba had been considered for the role, expressing admiration for his acting abilities. However, she explained that the timing was difficult due to Daniel Craig’s ongoing tenure as Bond.

In a separate interview with The Guardian earlier this year, Elba clarified that he was far from being cast as Bond, despite his love for the franchise and his close relationship with the producers. He dismissed the rumors surrounding his involvement as mere speculation and denied any truth to them. Barbara Broccoli echoed this sentiment in June, stating that no actors were currently being considered for the role as they were focused on reinventing the character and developing the script for the next film. She also mentioned that filming for the next Bond installment was at least two years away.

Overall, Idris Elba’s reflections on his potential portrayal of James Bond shed light on his initial enthusiasm, the unfortunate racial undertones that emerged, and the current status of the Bond franchise’s future casting decisions.

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