Although actor Daniel Craig is already attached to star in two more James Bond films after the upcoming "Skyfall," one name that keeps cropping up as his potential successor is Idris Elba.
The star of "The Wire" as 007 was first proposed by fans a few years ago, but with Craig tapped for multiple pictures, it didn't seem like Elba would ever get a chance to even be considered for the role. However, it now appears that the idea — along with Elba's career — has picked up so much steam that the actor may have actually had meetings with Bond producers.
Elba's high-profile work on TV shows like HBO's "The Wire" and BBC's "Luther" (for which he won a Golden Globe) has garnered him a lot of attention on both sides of the pond, attention that invariably led to the actor nabbing major supporting roles in films like "Thor" and "Prometheus." The London-born actor subsequently scored a lead role in Guillermo del Toro's big budget robot battler "Pacific Rim" and the coveted title role in the biopic "Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom."
In both television and film, Elba is steadily building a career as a truly international star — hell, he even guest starred in multiple episodes of the NBC comedy "The Office." With his career on the up and up, would a turn as Britain's most famous spy be out of the question?
According to Elba's "Mandela" co-star Naomie Harris, maybe not. Harris stars in "Skyfall" opposite current 007 Daniel Craig, and was asked about the Elba as Bond rumour while promoting the film.
"I didn't realize that there was this talk and then I did a film with Idris and he said that he met Barbara Broccoli," Harris told the Huffington Post. Barbara Broccoli is, of course, the long time co-producer of the James Bond franchise and the daughter of original 007 producer Albert R. Broccoli. Bond films are the only thing that Broccoli produces, so it's safe to assume that the alleged meeting probably had something to do with the suave secret agent.
"It does seem like there is a possibility in the future that there could very well be a black James Bond," Harris continued. "And I would have to vote for Idris because I just finished working with him and he's a great guy."
There will likely be some people who take issue with the fact that Elba is of African descent, whereas Bond has almost always been depicted as being of Scottish and Swiss ancestry (read: white). But that's beside the point: Bond has been played officially and unofficially by Brits, Americans, the Irish and Australians -- all with varying ancestry, accents, eye colour, hair colour, etc. The only Bond actor who even came close to matching the character's fictional ancestry was Sean Connery, and that's only because author Ian Fleming changed Bond's background to reflect Connery's on-screen portrayal of the super spy. Having been born and raised in London, England, Elba is at least as qualified as any other actor who has played the role — the only difference is that he happens to be black.
The actor himself commented on the speculation last year. "It's a rumor," Elba told NPR, saying that while the idea did interest him, he had some reservations. "I just don't want to be the black James Bond. Sean Connery wasn't the Scottish James Bond, and Daniel Craig wasn't the blue-eyed James Bond."
Elba is a fine actor, one who possesses both the charisma and physicality that the character requires. Unfortunately, the actor would undoubtedly face criticism from Bond fans unwilling or unable to look past the colour of his skin.
See also: How many people has James Bond killed?
Elba is no stranger to controversy surrounding race-switching in films. The actor faced the ire of idiotic (and mostly racist) forum posters and fanboys last year when he played the Asgardian god Heimdall in Marvel's "Thor." Similar to Bond, Heimdall had always been portrayed as a white character in media, and the fact that Elba wasn't white created a disturbing amount of contention among fans, with many complaining posts famously beginning with the old "I'm not racist, but..." trope. Given Elba's experience on "Thor," is it any wonder he sounds a little hesitant to take on Bond?
Granted, Elba is not the only actor whose name is in the 007 mix. Many have pointed to his "Prometheus" co-star Michael Fassbender as another likely candidate to succeed Craig as the shaken-not-stirred spy. It's easy to make a case for either actor, but only time will tell.
James Bond returns in "Skyfall" on Nov. 9.