EXCLUSIVE: Naomie Harris Doesn't Want to Label James Bond
By Stacy Lambe
It's no secret: Naomie Harris would like to see Daniel Craig return as James Bond in the next installment of the long-running spy franchise. "I am in love with Daniel," she tells ET while promoting the new film, Moonlight, in which she plays a drug-addicted mother.
The role is a significant departure for Harris, who has long sought out roles, like Bond's Moneypenny, that are positive portrayals of black women. "I don't want to fall in that trap of playing stereotypes because there are enough of those out there. But then you get a role like this," she says of playing Paula in the semi-autobiographical story adapted by director Barry Jenkins from Tarell Alvin McCraney's play, In Moonlight Black Boys Look Blue. It's a powerful coming-of-age story about a gay black man growing up in the Miami projects told in three parts -- when he's a 9-year-old, a teenager and an adult.
The movie, which is in theaters on Friday, is earning Oscar buzz for its adult stars, including Luke Cage's Mahershala Ali and Harris, who shot her part in just three days. The only person to appear in all three parts, Harris was challenged with portraying over 10 years of Paula's life, including showing her at her worst with addiction.
"She's lost herself to the drugs to the point where she’s selling her body in order to pay for her addiction," Harris says. "I never had an addiction like that. I thought, How am I going to reach this? How am I ever going to understand what that feels like? I was really scared by that. But when you get a role that scares you that's when you get excited. That's when you say yes, because you want to be stretched as a performer."
But when the conversation turns to Craig, there's no doubting that Harris is a staunch supporter of the 48-year-old actor. "He is incredible," she says. "I think he's the best Bond we've had in so long, so I want him back."
The actor, who most recently embodied 007 in Spectre, caused a media frenzy when he suggested he was ready to hang up his tux instead of returning for a fifth film. "I'd rather break this glass and slash my wrists," Craig told Time Out in October 2015. "I'm over it at the moment."
Since then, it's been debated who should take over the role. Would it be Idris Elba, the franchise's first black actor to take over the part? Tom Hiddleston, who recently made his case with the Emmy-nominated miniseries, The Night Manager? Or would Craig, who has since had a change of heart, return? "If I were to stop doing it, I would miss it terribly," he said during a panel at 2016 New Yorker Festival in October, suggesting he wasn't quite done with the franchise.
If Craig did depart, it would give the franchise an opportunity to change up the role of Bond. There has long been a call for more diversity in the part, with Elba's name thrown out at the suggestion for the franchise's first black Bond. There have even been discussions about whether a gay man or woman could take over the role.
When asked about whether producers should consider someone beyond a straight, white male, Hiddleston told ET, "They will make a decision that is best for them." At one point considered the frontrunner to take over the franchise, the actor has attempted to shut down rumors that he's up for the part. "I haven't been approached, I haven't asked, I haven't been invited," he said in April.
While Harris says she's into the various possibilities, she doesn't want "to put labels on anything."
"I hate when people talk about black Bond or gay bond or what have you. It's not about that," she says. "We just want someone who inhabits all the qualities of Bond, right? We just want that mysterious quality. That kind of man we all want to be with and whoever the actor is who is able to do that, I'm happy with that."
And for the record, don't consider Harris for the part. "She retired," she says of Moneypenny. "I like the idea that she's deskbound. But anything can change, anything can happen."