There have been a lot of rumors lately about Luther star Idris Elba (Thor, Prometheus, Pacific Rim) stepping into the role of James Bond in future films, despite the fact that Elba himself maintains that he has not spoken to anyone involved with the franchise about taking over the part. He blames current Bond Daniel Craig for starting the rumor, saying, “Daniel Craig actually set the rumor off. About four years ago he said Idris Elba would be a great Bond and then it started to creep. I blame Daniel.”
Whether or not there is any real possibility of Elba actually being the next 007, there is someone who is vocally dead-set against the idea. Actor Yaphet Kotto, who played the Bondian villain Dr. Kananga/Mr. Big opposite Roger Moore’s 007 in Live and Let Die (1973), and who is probably even better known for his role as Parker in the original Alien (1979), has gone on record as saying that he is against the idea of a black James Bond.
In an interview with The Big Issue, the 87 year old Kotto laid out his firm opinion on the iconic character. “He cannot be black. Political correctness be damned! James Bond was established by Ian Fleming as a white character, played by white actors. Play 003 or 006, but cannot be 007. A lot of people say we should be allowed to play everything. Don’t be ridiculous … Black men should stop trying to play roles created by whites. These roles are not written for black men.”
These remarks are obviously going to draw a lot of controversy, whether in opposition or support of this view. Some may argue that a fictional character can be portrayed however the filmmakers chose to interpret him; while others may refute this by claiming that if you make too many changes—fearing perhaps that future films could portray Bond as American or female or ugly or gay—you lose the inherit essence of what made the character so interesting and entertaining in the first place.
Of course, all this may seem irrelevant in the short term since Daniel Craig still has one more Bond film left after Spectre on his 5-film contract, and there’s no official word that Elba is actually a contender for the role. However, in the long term, the casting of the first black James Bond could have a huge impact on the future of the franchise.
How do you feel about Kotto’s comments?