While out promoting his latest action-hero role in Apple TV+’s Hijack, Idris Elba has been speaking about being perennially linked with playing 007, revealing that he was put off by the racist backlash he faced at the suggestion he could be the next James Bond.
Elba was appearing on the latest edition of the SmartLess Podcast when the chat turned to how close he got to being issued with a licence to kill. The Luther star revealed that the initial flattery at being linked with a role vacated by Daniel Craig following No Time to Die, soon gave way to disgust when it became about race.
“The truth is, I was super complimented for a long time about this. 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.
“Essentially, it was a huge compliment that every corner of the world except for some corners, which we will not talk about, were really happy about the idea that I could be considered. 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.”
Sadly this isn’t the first time that Elba has had to address issues of race when it comes to his work as an actor. He had previously told Esquire that he no longer refers to himself as a Black actor because he “realised it put me in a box”, adding 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.”
While we won’t get to see Elba as 007, you can check him out in Hijack, which touches down on Apple TV+ today. Check out the trailer below…
When Flight KA29 is hijacked during its seven-hour journey from Dubai to London, Sam Nelson – an accomplished corporate negotiator – tries using his professional skills to save everyone on board. Will this high-risk strategy be his undoing?
Hijack premieres on Apple TV+ on June 28th.