Unfortunately, Idris Elba won't be playing Bond, James Bond, but the reason why might not be what fans expected. In the upcoming issue of Vanity Fair, Elba said he doesn't want to be the first "black James Bond," and his comments highlight a problem with Hollywood's push for inclusion that can sometimes be overlooked: the pressure it puts on the stars these projects are supposed to be representing.
For Vanity Fair's August cover story, Elba is getting real about those Bond rumors, which he says were, unfortunately, always just rumors. “James Bond is a hugely coveted, iconic, beloved character, that takes audiences on this massive escapism journey,” he told the magazine. “Of course, if someone said to me ‘Do you want to play James Bond?,’ I’d be like, 'Yeah! That’s fascinating to me.' But it’s not something I’ve expressed, like, 'Yeah, I wanna be the black James Bond.'"
Fans have been saying for years that they want to see Elba as the first black Bond. (Even Spectre producers Michael G. Wilson and Barbara Broccoli both said Elba would be great in the role.) For the last four years, fans have been furiously tweeting about hiring Elba as 007 in hopes of bringing it to fruition. However, social media might be the reason it never happens. "Honestly, it’s a rumor that’s really starting to eat itself," the actor said back in 2015 about all the social media attention. "If there was ever any chance of me getting Bond, it’s gone."
It's a sentiment Elba echoed in his Vanity Far cover story, saying “we’re talking about a spy. If you really want to break it down, the more less-obvious it is, the better.” Obviously, tweeting is definitely not less-obvious.
But, there's another reason why Elba says he never considered the role too seriously and it has to do with his concerns over how people will see him in the role. His biggest concern being that the focus wouldn't be on him as an actor taking on this role, but on his race.
"You just get disheartened [about the rumors.] when you get people from a generational point of view going, ‘It can’t be.’ And it really turns out to be the color of my skin," Elba explained. "And then if I get it and it didn’t work, or it did work, would it be because of the color of my skin? That’s a difficult position to put myself into when I don’t need to.”
Elba doesn't need to be Bond when he's already super busy being Idris Elba, an actor who can pretty much play anything. This year alone he's played a manny on Netflix's Turn Up Charlie and will next play a terrifying super soldier villain named Brixton Lore, who unironically refers to himself as "Black Superman," in Hobbs & Shaw.
Not to mention, Elba will get to star in a musical, which as it turns out is a lifelong dream of his. Elba is in the film adaptation of Cats that also features Taylor Swift, who he'd really like to make non-Cats music with in the future. "I'm not a 'singer,'" Elba told Vanity Fair. "I've made music with singing. I'm musical...I'm an actor. I've never done it before, so I thought, 'Why not.'"
Yes, why shouldn't Elba play a complex cat named Macavity as if he's Jack Nicholson, who director Tom Hooper told Vanity Fair inspired the actor's performance. "The character has complexities, and I think that Tom Hooper...wanted someone who could pull off that stuff," Elba says, "meanwhile singing and dancing and meowing.”
So, fans might not get to see Elba wearing that famous tux with a martini, shaken, not stirred, in his hand, but this December they'll get to see him meow. And honestly, that sounds purrfect.