Idris Elba responds to James Bond speculation

Who will succeed Daniel Craig as the next James Bond? It’s a question that will come into focus when Craig’s time as Ian Fleming’s spy is up.

It’s known that Craig has signed up for two more films after Skyfall (2012), with Spectre due to be the first of the two picture deal due out on November 6th 2015.

What has emerged recently, however, is high level discussions in Sony Pictures about who should replace Craig when his tenure comes to an end.

Amy Pascal, chairman of Sony Pictures, is reported to have sent an email to Elizabeth Cantillon, former executive vice president of production for Columbia Pictures, which distributes the Bond films, saying, “Idris should be the next bond.”

Idris Elba, 42, is an excellent British actor who had to go to America to find acting roles after finding work difficult to come by in Britain.

He had already appeared in acclaimed British drama Ultraviolet in 1998 as Vaughan Rice and proved he had the acting chops but his decision to move to America was vindicated when he secured a major role in US cable drama The Wire as Russell “Stringer” Bell.

He has since returned to the UK to star in a major BBC drama, “Luther”, and continues to make appearances in major Hollywood movies from Thor and Pacific Rim to Prometheus.

Although talk of Elba becoming the next James Bond has been around for years, the fact that Elba is black has been a controversial point of discussion amongst factions of James Bond fandom.

Elba has finally commented on the discussion with a self-deprecating statement on Twitter saying simply: “Isn’t 007 supposed to [be] handsome?”.

In the TV arena, a similar argument has been raging recently about another British institution: Doctor Who.

The Doctor is a Timelord who has been around almost as long as James Bond on screen. His longevity over the years can be partially attributed to his ability to ‘regenerate’ into a completely different person who plays a variation of the same character with minor changes in personality and accent every few years.

Sounds familiar?

So the Doctor can change into a different person but down the years it’s always been a British accented white man over twelve incarnations plus a special appearance by John Hurt.

It’s always been suggested that The Doctor could eventually change into a black man or a woman and it has been mentioned in recent seasons of the show.

In the most recent eighth season of the rebooted series of Doctor Who we had the Doctor’s arch-enemy The Master, who had also been played by a series of white men over the years, return as a woman.

Perhaps it was a dry-run for a future female Doctor, but Michelle Gomez played the new Master brilliantly as a “demented Mary Poppins” despite being given too little screen time to realise her as anything with more depth than a pantomime villain.

Having iconic screen characters played by women isn’t new. Going back to the Bond franchise, we’ve already had the role of M played by Judi Dench for 17 years between Goldeneye (1995) and Skyfall (2012).

While Jane Bond (as played by Angelina Jolie?) might be too much for a world cinema audience, would a black James Bond be similarly divisive for the fanbase?

It’s known that Colin Salmon, who played Charles Robinson in three James Bond films opposite Pierce Brosnan, had strong backing to be the first black James Bond from no less than Brosnan himself.

Salmon, at 52, might now be too old for a stint as Bond but could we now be seeing an opportunity for the younger Idris Elba in the coming years?