It ‘Made the Whole Thing Disgusting and Off-Putting’

Bond rumors have been following Idris Elba around for many years, but the actor admitted during a recent interview on the “SmartLess” podcast that he got turned off from the idea of playing 007 when the conversation became dominated by race. Back in 2015, for example, the author Anthony Horowitz notoriously wrote that Elba was “too street” to play James Bond.

“The truth is, I was super complimented for a long time about this,” Elba said about originally embracing the idea about playing Bond. “I was like, ‘This is crazy!’ James Bond…We’re all actors and we understand that role. It’s one of those coveted [roles]. Being asked to be James Bond was like, ‘Ok, you’ve sort of reached the pinnacle’. That’s one of those things the whole world has a vote in.”

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“Essentially, it was a huge compliment that every corner of the world except from some corners, which we will not talk about, were really happy about the idea that I could be considered,” Elba added. “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.”

Once the conversation about Elba becoming Bond became dominated by the topic of race, he cooled on the idea of headlining the 007 franchise. The actor has spoken out publicly in the past about his frustrations with being labeled a “Black actor.” In a February interview with Esquire U.K., he admitted that he stopped calling himself a “Black actor” because it created limitations for his career.

Elba noted at the time that “as humans, we are obsessed with race and that obsession can really hinder people’s aspirations, hinder people’s growth. Racism should be a topic for discussion, sure. Racism is very real. But from my perspective, it’s only as powerful as you allow it to be.”

“I stopped describing myself as a Black actor when I realized it put me in a box,” the actor said. “We’ve got to grow. We’ve got to. Our skin is no more than that: it’s just skin. Rant over.”

Elba’s most recent role is headlining the Apple TV+ thriller series “Hijack.” The series premieres June 28.

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