The first black actor to play a James Bond villain has said that the iconic character should always be played by a white man and “political correctness be damned”.
Yaphet Kotto, who starred as Dr Kananga alongside Roger Moore's 007 in 1973 hit Live and Let Die, insisted in a recent interview that the films should follow the “literally correct” in the original novels.
“[Bond] cannot be black,” he told Big Issue. “James Bond was established by Ian Fleming as a white character, played by white actors. Play 003 or 006 but you cannot be 007.”
Kotto, 75, added that he finds it “ridiculous” when people say all roles should be open to black actors. “If I say I want to play JFK, I should be laughed out of the room,” he said.
“Black men should stop trying to play roles created by whites. These roles are not written for black men. We have pens [to create] roles that no one else has established.”
Iconic James Bond villains
Iconic James Bond villains
Bond's long-standing nemesis Ernst Stavro Blofeld, played by Donald Pleasance in 'You Only Live Twice'
Richard Kiel as Jaws in Moonraker with Roger Moore's James Bond
3/10 Dr No
Joseph Wiseman as Bond villain Dr No in the film of the same name
4/10 Max Zorin and May Day
Christopher Walken as Max Zorin and Grace Jones as May Day in A View to a Kill
Christopher Lee as Francisco Scaramanga in The Man With the Golden Gun
'You expect me to talk?' 'No, Mr Bond, I expect you to die!' Auric Goldfinger with Sean Connery's Bond
Goldfinger's butler Oddjob displays his lethal flying hat skills
All rights reserved - Activision / Eurocom
8/10 Elliot Carver
Jonathan Pryce as media mogul Elliot Carver in Tomorrow Never Dies
9/10 Raoul Silva
Javier Bardem's villain Raoul Silva in Skyfall
10/10 Elektra King
Sophie Marceau as Elektra King in The World Is Not Enough
“Although James may have been played by a Scot, a Welshman and an Irishman, I think he should be "English-English,” he reportedly told Paris Match, adding that a black 007 is “an interesting idea, but unrealistic.”
An interview I gave to Paris Match implies I said something racist about Idris Elba. That is simply untrue. #Lost in translation.— Sir Roger Moore (@sirrogermoore) March 28, 2015
Hackney-born Elba has been tipped to be the next incarnation of the “shaken but stirred” spy. Back in December last year, the 42-year-old posted a selfie on Twitter with the words, “007 is supposed to be handsome? Glad you think I’ve got a shot!” to his 1.39million followers.
The Luther star has so far remained silent on Moore’s remarks but jokingly blames current Bond Daniel Craig for starting the rumours.
Kotto, also known for Alien and and Across 110th Street, was banned from promoting Live and Let Die because bosses were wary of encouraging negative public reception to a black villain. “They didn't play my character up,” he confirmed. “That hurt me a lot, man.
“I went through a lot of goddamn emotional hell because they were afraid people would be angry that a black guy was not being Sidney Poitier. I was the opposite of everything he created.”
However, despite many expecting Kotto to be outraged by the Academy's snub of Martin Luther King biopic Selma at this year's Oscars, his reaction was quite the opposite.
“They're wrong,” Kotto said, adding that did not vote for the film. “I'm in the Academy and people who project racial issues into movies have no business in our business.”
The next James Bond film, Spectre, is due in UK cinemas on 6 November, starring Craig, Christoph Waltz, Monica Bellucci, Lea Seydoux and Naeomie Harris.Reuse content