Rumor Mill: Producers Finally Ready to Make Idris Elba the Next 007

Here's why it's the best choice they can possibly make

August 9, 2018 9:00 am

According to The Daily Star, James Bond producer Barbara Broccoli is finally ready to do something fans have been clamoring for for years: cast a black actor in the titular role.

The paper cites director Antoine Fuqua, to whom Broccoli recently confirmed her openness to a black Bond in a private conversation. Fuqua himself added that “Idris [Elba] could do it if he was in shape. You need a guy with physically strong presence. Idris has that.”

Elba, best known for his television work on The Wire and Luther, is also a retired kickboxer, part-time DJ and amateur race-car driver, a polymathic pedigree that would seem to make him an ideal choice for the role of Bond. Some critics have cited his age (Elba is currently 45) as a potential drawback; Roger Moore, though, began his Bond run at the same age, portraying the spy six times between 1972 and 1985.

Daniel Craig is set to make his final appearance as James Bond — under the direction of Danny Boyle, no less — in the series’ next installment.

Below, you can read our thoughts on his reprisal of the role. Namely, that he shouldn’t. And Elba definitely should.

Originally published September 7, 2016

Daniel Craig’s James Bond officially retired in May — or so we were told. The actor had allegedly turned down $99 million to reprise the role for two additional films; rampant speculation about who would replace him soon followed.

But now it appears that retirement may have been the Michael Jordan kind. Sony has apparently returned to Craig with an improved offer of $150 million, a sum that would likely be enough to coax Sirs Connery and Moore out of the nursing home and into a crisp black Tom Ford suit.

To understand why this is a terrible idea — and it is — one must first start with what makes Bond such an enduring character.

There are things every man loves about James Bond that have remained constant since his first appearance, in Dr. No, nearly 65 years ago: His impeccable sense of style. His penchant for defying orders but getting away with it. His acid tongue. His marksmanship.

But what’s made him the longest-tenured character in motion-picture history is his inconstancy: Daniel Craig is the sixth man to play James Bond, and 2016 makes his tenth year as the incumbent. No actor has played the character for more than 12 years, Sean Connery’s anomalous appearance in 1984’s Never Say Never Again (the only non-Eon Bond picture) notwithstanding.

This merry-go-round of players has been key to Bond’s evolution. Every 10 years or so, he is reinvented and reimagined, and each time, the new Bond better embodies the values and trends of his cultural moment than the one who came before him.

Sean Connery’s Bond was ’60s machismo through and through, ass-slapping and swashbuckling his way through office politics with a smirk on his face and a martini in hand. Roger Moore’s was longer-limbed, wittier, more sensitive: a less rugged and self-assured Bond to reflect more fluid notions of masculinity. Timothy Dalton’s Bond — like the ’80s — was forgettable; Pierce Brosnan, with his action-hero good looks, brought Bond to the era of the blockbuster. And then there’s Daniel Craig’s: an exceedingly vain and detached Bond, more identifiable by the labels on his clothes and cars than his cult of personality.

In essence, Bond is less a character than he is a brand. And like any successful brand, Bond’s survival has always depended on adaptation: for each new target audience, a new campaign, a new voice, a new spokesperson.

Which is why it’s time for Daniel Craig to step down from the podium.

We need a Bond for a new moment, one defined by globalization, heterogeneity and the breaking down of traditional barriers.

The Bond we need is Idris Elba.

Image via Stuart C. Wilson / Getty

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