Fans of James Bond have been pushing for the eminently talented Idris Elba to become the world’s most famous spy for years now. However, during a recent interview, the English actor said he became less enthusiastic about the role due to conversations about race. 

“The truth is, I was super complimented for a long time about this,” Elba said while appearing on the “SmartLess” podcast. “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.” 

One person important to the Bond franchise was notably not a fan of the potential casting. In the interview, Elba appeared to reference James Bond author Anthony Horowitz’s notorious comment that the Luther actor was “too street” for the role.  

“Essentially, it was a huge compliment that every corner of the world except some corners, which we will not talk about, were really happy about the idea that I could be considered,” Elba said. “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.” 

The actor has previously discussed how race has played a negative role in his career. In an interview with Esquire U.K. published earlier this year, Elba said he stopped referring to himself as a “Black actor” because “it put me in a box.” 

“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,” said the actor, who stars in the Apple TV+ thriller series “Hijack” premiering June 28. “We’ve got to grow. We’ve got to. Our skin is no more than that: it’s just skin. Rant over.” 
Earlier this year, Elba said he wouldn’t be playing the British Secret Service agent. Daniel Craig will not return to the role after appearing in No Time to Die, and the producers behind the series are still mulling who will be the next actor to fill the position, The Guardian reported.  

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