With Daniel Craig‘s run coming to an end (eventually), rumors have been swirling for years that Idris Elba could be the next actor to don James Bond’s tuxedo. He’s an obvious choice: British and handsome, both a talented actor and a capable action star.
But alas, despite the playful tweets and the Golden Globes selfie with Craig, Elba says he’s unlikely to play the next Bond. It’s a disappointing development, but the reason he’s not actively seeking the role is even more upsetting.
“James Bond is a hugely coveted, iconic, beloved character, that takes audiences on this massive escapism journey,” he said in a new interview with Vanity Fair. “Of course, if someone said to me ‘Do you want to play James Bond?,’ I’d be like, Yeah! That’s fascinating to me. But it’s not something I’ve expressed, like, Yeah, I wanna be the black James Bond.”
That last line is the issue for Elba. He knows that if he can’t be James Bond; he can only be the black James Bond, a character that will attract negative attention from the kind of small-minded dunces for whom it’s important that a fictional character is white.
“You just get disheartened when you get people from a generational point of view going, ‘It can’t be,'” he told the magazine. “And it really turns out to be the color of my skin. And then if I get it and it didn’t work, or it did work, would it be because of the color of my skin? That’s a difficult position to put myself into when I don’t need to.”
That added pressure is something that Richard Madden, Chris Hemsworth, and Cillian Murphy don’t have to worry about. And while we’re not saying that any of them would do a bad job, it’s disheartening that one of the top choices for the role — and one of the best actors on the planet — has such an unnecessary roadblock in front of him to win the coveted role.