After actor Idris Elba was called “too street” to play the iconic British spy, perhaps it’s time for actors of color to reboot the whole Bond franchise.
image via (cc) flickr user dfid
In an interview with The Daily Mail, author Anthony Horowitz–recently hired by the estate of James Bond creator Ian Flemming to write the newest book in the iconic spy’s series–managed to raise the ire of the internet when he was asked what he thought of actor Idris Elba someday playing Bond, himself. Elba, long favored by some to assume the mantle of 007 once Daniel Craig vacates the role, would become the first black actor to play the spy. As Horowitz explained:
“Idris Elba is a terrific actor, but I can think of other black actors who would do it better.
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.”
Horowitz’s comments ignited a firestorm of controversy online, where they were called “offensive” and “casually racist.” Many commenters were quick to point out that, in fact, Elba is actually one of the most suave men alive. And while Horowitz doesn’t appear to take issue with an actor of color playing the role in general (he recommended Adrian Lester), his choice of language–“street” vs “suave”–seems indicative of reductionist racial thinking, at the least. Since the interview, Horowitz has made a public apology for his statement, writing: “Clumsily, I chose the word ‘street’ as Elba’s gritty portrayal of DCI John Luthor was in my mind but I admit it was a poor choice of word. I am mortified to have caused offense.”
Still, if there’s a silver lining to this whole mess, it’s that Horowitz’s comments have, in their own way, managed to generate some real excitement over, and interest in, the prospect of a black Bond film. And if–fingers firmly crossed–that day comes when Hollywood gets its act together enough to actually make this happen, here are our humble suggestions for the rest of the cast:
CCH Pounder (left) // image via (cc) flickr user peabodyawards
Veteran actress CCH Pounder has spent much of her career playing police officers and federal agents. Pounder can convey the sort of calm exterior and iron resolve that belies an inner tempest of emotion necessary to play Bond’s MI6 spymaster “M.”
image via (cc) flickr user proclivities
M’s executive secretary, Miss Moneypenny (first name: Eve, or Jane, depending on the Bond story) is fastidious, dedicated, and a constant source of romantic tension for James. She has already been played by an actress of color, Naomie Harris, in 2012’s Skyfall and the upcoming Spectre. However, should Harris drop the role, actress Freema Agyeman (recognizable to most from her role as Doctor Who companion Martha Jones) would be a perfect fit.
image via (cc) flickr user littlebirdfeet
As MI6’s quartermaster, charged with maintaining and developing the spy agency’s constantly upgraded tools of the trade, Q is often portrayed as some combination of tech geek, and patronizing jerk. Who better to capture that “nerd with a chip on his shoulder” vibe than actor/rapper Donald Glover who, himself, was subject to (ultimately, unfortunately false) casting rumors about another geeky tech-wiz: Spiderman
image via (cc) flickr user bethcanphoto
Perhaps James Bond’s most iconic nemesis, Auric Goldfinger, as his name doubly suggests, is obsessed with gold, and will stop at nothing to collect, and maximize the precious medal’s value. Equal parts ruthless and insane, whomever plays the villain must be able to convey both unhinged madness, and a chilling intellect. When it comes to that volatile combination, it’s Danny Glover who has both the on-screen intensity, and range necessary to bring Goldfinger to life.
image via (cc) flickr user thegaryphung
Titular orthodontics aside, Bond villain Jaws is likely the largest foe 007 has faced over the course of his decades-long career. Actor and former professional wrestler Tom “Tiny” Lister, standing at an imposing 6’5, may not match original Jaws’ actor Richard Kiel’s seven-plus feet, but when it comes to exuding menace by virtue of a dominating physical presence, Tiny would be a big hit.
image via (cc) flickr user juanillooo
Sexy, dangerous, but ultimately sides with the good guys, Auric Goldfinger’s ally-turned-enemy Pussy Galore has become one of the most famous “Bond Girls” in franchise history. Originally played by actress Honor Blackman, the ideal Ms. Galore should be fearless in the face of peril, and more than capable of taking care of herself. If you don’t think that sounds like the badass behind “Bitch Better Have My Money,” then perhaps you should consider changing your name to “Dr. No.”