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At this point, it's a seven-year-old rumour. You've probably heard it ad nauseam. Back in 2014, the Sony email hack revealed a message from its chairman, Amy Pascal, writing, “Idris [Elba] should be the next Bond.”
Cut to years of Idris Elba walking around with just about everyone in the James Bond fandom shouting over any and every message board whether or not the actor should follow Daniel Craig as 007. (Of course, Elba didn't help when he tweeted in 2018, “My name’s Elba, Idris Elba,” which he later admitted was a joke.) After the premiere of No Time to Die, Elba told a reporter, “No, I’m not going to be James Bond.” Thankfully, in Esquire US's cover story featuring Elba, Elba added some context to why he's perfectly OK with not suiting up as the spy—hinting that his BBC crime drama, Luther, already fills the espionage-sized hole in his life.
“I say this in jest, but this is my answer to Bond,” said Elba. “[Luther] is my big character that lives in the same space as the Bournes, as the Bonds in the world. Not in terms of spy works or spying, but this is a character that fights evil and then will stop at nothing to do it. And we created him from scratch. Me and [showrunner] Neil Cross really plowed our hearts into making John Luther. And I’ve never been more thankful for a character that keeps going. I love him. And it’s a hard character to play. It’s very absorbing, but I’ve liked bringing him to life every time. I’ve loved it.”
Elsewhere in the cover story, Elba addressed some of fans' racist reactions to the Bond rumours.
“From one perspective, hey, there’s a logic: He’s Norse; he shouldn’t be played by a Black man. But from another sect, there was like ‘Idris Elba’s a cunt, he’s disgusting, he’s not fucking James Bond, he’s never going to be James Bond.’ It was hatred,” he said.
Elba fell silent for a moment, then continued, “If you get to a level like mine, I can’t sit here and worry about some dickhead who’s got a pseudonym writing, ‘Idris is Black, he shouldn’t play. . . I don’t care; I shouldn’t care about that. Plus, I’ve got a thick skin, man. I’m old and ugly enough to know that they love you, then they hate you, then they love you again.”
You can respect Elba's reasoning here—why take on the role so many actors have stepped into over the years, when you've already made your name as an original hero, John Luther? Not to mention the effect of all the hatred the man has received over the years. With Esquire's writer, Tim Lewis, writing that the Bond inquiry marked the "one moment in our interview when there’s a chill in the room (or rather, the Zoom), he really dislikes," maybe we should finally put this rumour to rest. Regardless, that didn't stop No Time to Die's director, Cary Joji Fukunaga, from telling Lewis what he thought about the idea of Elba in the famous role.
"It’d be a cakewalk. He could easily do it," Fukunaga said. "There’s an ease when he walks into a room with which he handles himself. And that’s the sort of suave nature that Bond exudes, that confidence in any situation: strength, calm, and awareness. In terms of physicality and being able to move with the punches, you can imagine him handling a situation where things get dire or dangerous, then finishing it off with a smile or some wry, intelligent quip."
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