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THE BLACK OPINION: Idris Elba *isn't* right for 007, but not because of the street

BlackHoleOnline BlackHoleOnline In what was undoubtedly a genius marketing ploy in one respect, and a completely dumbfounded piece of opinion on the other, author Anthony Horowicz found himself this week in hot water in the world of James Bond.

Promoting his soon to be released 007 novel ‘Trigger Mortis’, Horowicz launched a tirade against Skyfall—claiming it makes Bond weak—cast doubt on whether the upcoming Spectre will be any good, but crucially he made a comment about Idris Elba that went down like a led balloon tied to a falling elephant in a crashing cargo plane:

"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 color issue. I think he is probably a bit too “street” for Bond. Is it a question of being suave? Yeah."

Now in fairness to Horowicz, he has since used Twitter to clarify he wasn't being racist, as he cited Adrian Lester as a stronger 007 candidate on the black side, and admitted using the word 'street' in relation to Elba's portrayal on TV (and soon the movies) as DCI John Luther was very misjudged. Good. It was. Maybe he ought to also rethink giving interviews to the Daily Mail gutter press too in future, but that's by the by.

The apparent racism here isn't the point (and I genuinely don't think Horowicz is anything of the sort). What this has done is reignite the long held conversation about a black James Bond, one Elba over recent years has been a key part of. Much like a female Doctor in Doctor Who and the sex issue, many don't want to see the world's greatest spy be portrayed by an actor who isn't white. Frankly, that's always been asinine. Ian Fleming may have been a towering, old money uber-racist (just read 'Live and Let Die' the novel and tell me otherwise), and may have penned Bond in the mould of Hoagy Carmichael, but the character itself doesn't have to depend on race, skin colour or any of those nonsense definitions. It's about the right actor with the right elements of swagger, bravado, class and machismo.

Idris Elba ticks a lot of those boxes, but not quite all of them. He may be an East London boy with a cockney brogue as strong as the best of them at times, but he's more than capable of playing with a different accent and radiating a sense of charm & danger; his brief but memorable turn in American Gangster is a good example. He can do noble and stately, as proven as Heimdall of Asgard in multiple Marvel appearances, plus his turn as the eponymous Nelson in Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom. What, in my opinion, he doesn't quite have is that old school, traditional British class that made Roger Moore look like a leathery old dinosaur, or Pierce Brosnan the slick, oiled smoothie, or even Daniel Craig as a polished rough diamond you can cut yourself on. He's also a sliver too old now, perhaps, if once Craig moves on (and he's making noises he might be after Spectre), EON want to reboot the character & try a different approach to him. Elba has, perhaps, just missed the boat - and he knows this too:

"It's a rumor that's really started to eat itself. If there was a chance of me getting Bond, it's gone."

Though perhaps not built enough for the part at this point, a much better choice for a black Bond would be David Oyelowo, who incidentally has voiced Horowicz's new 007 novel in audiobook. He has that sense of British, slightly upper class charm Elba lacks somewhat, and would be a better fit.

Ultimately, no choice of James Bond should be arbitrary, based on skin colour or anything else. Craig rubbed against the grain for being blonde when he was cast but Barbara Broccoli & Michael G. Wilson saw beyond the locks & spotted, quite rightly, the potential - subsequently they cast arguably the strongest 007 since Sean Connery. Whoever takes the role next, whether they're black or white or English or Scottish or whatever, they should simply be the best man for the role.

Or woman. Now that *really* would get them talking...

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