Idris Elba Was 'Disheartened' That 'the Color of My Skin' Caused James Bond Casting Backlash

Idris Elba
Emma McIntyre/Getty Images

Idris Elba is speaking his mind regarding negativity he's received over the very suggestion of him playing Agent 007.

"James Bond is a hugely coveted, iconic, beloved character, that takes audiences on this massive escapism journey," he tells Vanity Fair of the role, which his name has been inextricably linked with for years. "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."

"You just get disheartened," he adds, "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. 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."

The 46-year-old actor also offered this point regarding the casting of the beloved character: "Because, by the way, we’re talking about a spy. If you really want to break it down, the more less-obvious it is, the better."

Idris Elba
Collier Schorr for Vanity Fair

While speaking with ET in April, Daniel Craig echoed Elba’s sentiments -- that the role should simply go to "the right person for the job" after he bids farewell to the gig with Bond 25.

"I think that's what it should be," Craig added. "I think that everybody should be considered. For women and for African Americans, there should be great parts anyway, across the board. It shouldn't have to be Bond that takes ... it doesn't need to be Bond. It just needs to be written -- some good parts."

During his chat, Elba also offered some insight on his role in the upcoming Cats adaptation. Although he’s once again playing the baddie, this time around he portrays Macavity, a dastardly feline with an egomaniacal agenda.

"The myth is that cats have nine lives, and he"—Macavity—"has one left," he explains to the magazine. "So he’s desperate to be acknowledged, and he’s slightly unhinged, and he’s obviously met death a few times and gotten past it. The character has complexities, and I think that [director] Tom Hooper...wanted someone who could pull off that stuff—meanwhile singing and dancing and meowing."

Elba also touched upon singing in the film -- new territory for the leading man. "I’m not a 'singer,'" he clarifies, although he is a seasoned musician. "I’ve made music with singing. I’m musical … I’m an actor," he says. "I’ve never done it before, so I thought, Why not."

While chatting with ET about the role in March, he discussed a musical moment in the flick that's bound to get fans' attention: "James Corden is hilarious in this film and I get to sing with Taylor Swift. And, you know, it's also a little bit surreal."

See more on Elba down below.


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