Recent rumors have once again stirred speculation that Luther star Idris Elba could be the next actor cast as James Bond – but right now the evidence just doesn’t point that way. With his smooth voice, action movie credentials, and frequent appearances on “sexiest actor” lists, Elba’s name has been thrown around as a possibility to play the next Bond for years now, but so far it has all been fan-casting, with no indications that Eon Productions is actually interested in casting him in the role.
However, that seemingly changed earlier this week when UK tabloid the Daily Star claimed that The Equalizer director Antoine Fuqua had mentioned that James Bond producer Barbara Broccoli has told him “it is time” for a person of color to be cast in the role, and that “it will happen eventually.” According to this article, Fuqua went on to add, “Idris could do it if he was in shape. You need a guy with physically strong presence. Idris has that.”
Now, right off the bat that’s a thin basis for claiming that Eon is interested in casting Elba – in fact, it doesn’t even really qualify as a rumor, since Fuqua, not Broccoli, supposedly suggested Elba for the role. However, given that Elba has been a popular (though controversial) choice for a while, discussion quickly spread across social media. Not long afterwards, Elba himself responded to the chatter by jokingly posting on social media, “My name’s Elba, Idris Elba,” soon following it up by telling people “Don’t believe the HYPE.” In fact, it seems that the initial report of Fuqua talking about Elba being cast as Bond may have been fabricated; a rep for Fuqua told THR that it was “all made up stuff,” and that “[Fuqua] never had a conversation with Barbara about the franchise or about any casting.”
Beyond the lack of evidence that Eon is considering Elba for the role, the casting really doesn’t make sense. For starters, Elba is too old for the role – and that’s not us being rude, that’s from the man himself. Speaking in an interview with ABC around the release of Star Trek Beyond, Elba said, “If I’m really honest, I think I’m too old for that, man. Running around in cars, and ladies, and martinis… who wants to do that? It sounds terrible.”
OK, he may have been joking, but realistically speaking Eon probably isn’t looking to cast an actor who will already be in his 50s by the time his first movie hits theaters. Elba is around the same age as Daniel Craig, who is currently preparing to exit the role, and when recasting happens the studio will almost certainly be looking for someone (to borrow a line from Deadpool) young enough to carry their own franchise for 10 to 12 years – probably an actor under 40, like Craig was when he was cast. Craig still has another movie to go, with Danny Boyle directing the as-yet untitled 25th entry in the franchise. That movie is out in theaters in 2019 – at which point Elba will be 47, soon to turn 48.
There’s certainly a lot of enthusiasm for Elba to play James Bond, but so far it’s all come from fans, with no indication from either the studio or the actor that it’s really on the cards. Perhaps Elba should do what Nathan Fillion did after years of being fan-cast as Nathan Drake, and simply star in a short fan film to give the people what they want.