Idris Elba says ‘disgusting’ race discourse put him off James Bond role

British actor said he would have turned down the opportunity after it ‘became about race’

Jacob Stolworthy
Wednesday 13 September 2023 16:15 BST
Idris Elba reveals sad reason he did not want to play James Bond

Idris Elba has said that the discourse around race and the character of James Bond is what put him off the idea of taking on the coveted film role.

Ever since Daniel Craig announced No Time to Die would be his final outing as 007, film fans have been speculating as to who could replace him.

The Wire and Luther star Elba, who appears in the new Apple TV+ series Hijack, has been one of the primary contenders. However, Elba ruled himself out of the running earlier this year – and has now revealed the reason why.

Appearing on the SmartLess podcast, which is hosted by Jason Bateman, Sean Hayes and Will Arnett, Elba described the offer to play the role as “the pinnacle”, but said he would never have accepted the opportunity as it “became about race”.

“Those that weren’t happy about the idea made the whole thing disgusting and off-putting, because it became about race,” he said, adding: “It became about nonsense and I got the brunt of it.”

Elba previously said of the rumours: “You know, a lot of people talk about another character that begins with ‘J’ and ends with ‘B,’ but I’m not going to be that guy. I’m going to be John Luther. That’s who I am.”

Other actors currently in contention to play Bond include Aaron Taylor-Johnson, Tom Hardy, Richard Madden and Bridgerton actor Regé-Jean Page,

In Hijack, Elba plays a passenger on a flight from Dubai to London that gets hijacked.

Events of the show, which runs for seven hours, play out in real-time as authorities on the ground scramble for answers.

Idris Elba

While promoting the show on ITV’s Lorraine, Elba was left in hysterics as host Lorraine Kelly made a raunchy double entendre about James Bond.

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