Even though the next James Bond film - still tentatively titled Bond 23 - is only now gearing up for production, there has long been speculation about whether or not Daniel Craig - the man currently playing 007 - will return for a fourth turn as the iconic spy, once he's done with this, his third Bond film.
Aside from the debate over whether or not Craig should keep playing Bond (the man has an equal number of supporters and detractors) there has been one issue of greater contention: Who should play Bond after Craig.
Actors like Michael Fassbender (X-Men: First Class) and Henry Cavill (Man of Steel) have been named by many film fans as prime candidates to take over the mantle of Bond - however, British actor Idris Elba (Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance) has also had his name floated for the role, which is no doubt a matter of controversy, given that Elba is black.
While speaking to NPR recently, Elba addressed the possibility of his playing Bond at some point. Right off the bat, he let it be known that he would not be interested in doing it just for the sake arbitrarily altering the character:
"It's a rumor...I just don't want to be the black James Bond. Sean Connery wasn't the Scottish James Bond, and Daniel Craig wasn't the blue-eyed James Bond, so if I played him, I don't want to be called the black James Bond.
Of course that doesn't mean the actor is against the prospect of playing Bond. Elba went on to detail the Bond-style tactics he would employ for his meeting with Sony execs:
"I'd not only get in the cab...but I'd take the taxi driver out of the car, hostage. The taxi, jump out while it was moving, jump onto a pedal bike that was just past the door as I got on it, and then get onto a plane — on the wing — land on top of Sony Studios, slide through the air conditioning, and land in the office...I'm never shaken or stirred."
As stated, the mere rumor of a black actor playing James Bond is sure to incite immediate controversy amongst those..."true fans" of Ian Fleming's dapper spy, who would argue (as usual) that 'Black does not equal Bond,' or that switching the character's race would amount to some form of PC pandering... Because, you know, James Bond is a white male who just so happens to change ethnicity (Scottish? English?) and physical traits (blond or auburn hair, blue or brown eyes) depending on the actor playing him. A black Bond would undoubtedly have as many opponents as he would supporters.
That all said: Elba is a rising star, having already established himself via shows like HBO's The Wire NBC's The Office or BBC's Luther (which is now returning to the airwaves). Elba's future on the big screen is just as bright, what with upcoming roles in major films like next year's Ghost Rider 2 and Ridley Scott's Alien prequel Prometheus, as well as major tentpole projects in 2013, such as Guillermo del Toro's monster movie epic, Pacific Rim.
Of course, Elba is already familiar with (and likely tired of) the controversy over race-switching in movies: the actor found himself in the middle of a heated cultural debate earlier this year, due to his playing the role of a traditionally white Norse god in the Marvel Studios blockbuster, Thor. Given that experience, we're willing to bet that Elba (as evidenced by his statements) would be the first to scrutinize the need for a black Bond - something that the Internet trolls may want to keep in mind before posting their comments.
Bond 23 is headed into production at the moment, and is aiming for a November 9, 2012 release date. We'll keep you posted about Daniel Craig's future with the franchise.