As you might have heard, the internet is obsessed with getting Luther star Idris Elba cast as the next James Bond, which would make him the first black actor to play the character onscreen. This great idea – Elba’s talented, British, fit, and looks fantastic in a tuxedo – has of course been met with resistance from people who think the character has to be played by a white actor (one of them is Rush Limbaugh, just so you know the kind of company you’re keeping). For Elba’s part, he seems kind of indifferent to the whole thing, though he has noted in the past that he doesn’t want to be the “Black James Bond,” so the hype surrounding the whole affair might be too much for him in any case.
The internet’s not done talking about it though, and that means that any time someone somehow related to the Bond franchise is interviewed, there’s a good chance they’ll have to address it. This time it’s Anthony Horowitz, who’s out promoting his new Bond novel, the Ian Fleming Estate-commissioned Trigger Mortis. Horowitz, whose novel is a sequel to Goldfinger, is very quick to offer his opinions on the character in a new Daily Mail interview, noting that he thinks Casino Royale was the best Bond film since the Connery era and that he’s not a fan of Skyfall because Bond seems to have too many weaknesses and doubts. As for Elba, he offered up this little gem.
“For me, Idris Elba is a bit too rough to play the part. It’s not a colour issue. I think he is probably a bit too ‘street’ for Bond. Is it a question of being suave? Yeah.”
Now, Elba is of course known for playing streetwise characters like The Wire’s Stringer Bell, but he’s also done Shakespeare and played Nelson Mandela, and when you throw out words like “street” when you’re trying to explain why you think a black man can’t play an educated, sophisticated secret agent, more than a few people are gonna be mad.
Let’s not beat up on Horowitz too much though, because when he said it wasn’t an issue of color, he actually meant it. Even before he called Elba “too street,” he said he does have a black actor in mind who he thinks would be a great Bond: Adrian Lester, star of the long-running British drama Hustle. Of course, odds are neither man will eventually get the job, but at least Horowitz is willing to think beyond white stars.