James Bond should not be black, says first black Bond villain Yaphet Kotto

'Political correctness be damned' says Dr Kananga from 1973's Live and Let Die

Jess Denham
Thursday 09 April 2015 18:48
Yaphett Kotto with Julius W Harris and Jane Seymour in 1973 Bond movie Live and Let Die
Yaphett Kotto with Julius W Harris and Jane Seymour in 1973 Bond movie Live and Let Die

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.”

Moore, now 87, was forced to deny making racist remarks directed at black actor Idris Elba last week.

“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.”

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.

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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.

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