Racist Trolls Swayed Idris Elba From Wanting to Play James Bond
Photo: Lia Toby/Getty Images

Racist Trolls Swayed Idris Elba From Wanting to Play James Bond

'The Wire' and 'Luther' actor speaks on why he's no longer pursuing the role of 007

For years, one of the names on the table for who'd be the perfect to play James Bond has been Idris Elba, a British actor who seemed so perfect to modernize the role. But one person who no longer wants to see that happen could be Elba himself.

Appearing on the Smartless podcast (hosted by Jason Bateman, Will Arnett and Sean Hayes), Elba said he was flattered by the attention, but ultimately found it "off-putting" because of those who met the idea with racist remarks.

“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," he said on the podcast. The website Express reported on the podcast remarks and said the 50-year-old actor might be great in the role, but even Martin Campbell, who has directed Bond films, said he didn't think those in charge of the brand would allow a Black or female actor in the role.

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Campbell told Express, "Honestly, it’s not going to happen… the way the books are set up, that’s the way (Ian) Fleming wrote them… he’s always been white, he’s always been the man that Fleming created, right? And I think that’s the way they’ll keep it.”

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Back in March, Elba spoke with LEVEL about another iconic character who he’s already depicted: John Luther, antihero of the drama franchise Luther. On the topic of the titular character’s morality, he said the following: “I think he's a good person, bad cop. I mean, I have to say he's not a very good cop. If a good cop is someone that abides by the law, and, you know, puts his job in the most professional lane it can be, then he doesn't do that. But he's a good person with good intentions. And I think he abuses his position as a lawman to go out of his way.”

With John Luther and of course The Wire’s Stringer Bell, Elba has played his share of memorable recurring roles. He’s also got his hands full with a new AppleTV+ series, Hijack, which is debuting its first season this week.