If Idris Elba Is ‘Too Street’, WTF Am I?

IElba4_GQ_29May12_b_642x390Idris Elba is one of those Black men that other men love and hate simultaneously. He’s handsome. He’s in impeccable shape. He’s intelligent. Women of all walks fawn over him. And he’s even got a British accent. In a game of comparisons, we just don’t measure up. However, we can appreciate his talents. His ever classy style has been consistently on display since Elba first met our gaze. So why is he being called “too street” to play James Bond?

Anthony Horowitz, author of the most recent James Bond book, recently went on record in an interview about the possibility of Elba taking on the mantle of 007. And for a writer, his words were terribly chosen.

“Idris Elba is a terrific actor, but I can think of other black actors who would do it better.”

He went on.

“For me, Idris Elba is a bit too rough to play the part. It’s not a color issue. I think he is probably a bit too ‘street’ for Bond. Is it a question of being suave? Yeah.”

After reading those words, a few questions immediately came to my mind:

1. Who are these Black actors that he thinks could do it better?

I know there is a wealth of Black talent in Hollywood just waiting for a chance to shine, but … better than Idris? To play Bond?  For that role, you must have a combination of universal attractiveness, physicality, and raw acting ability. Not to mention, you’ve got to be able to turn on the audience while convincingly scaring the shit out of your on-screen foe. Elba has all of that and an established name. How many others fit that bill?

2. This handsome specimen of a man ain’t suave?


Every man who looks at that gif is taking style notes. Literally every single one.

3. Why use a color qualifier?

If he’s a terrific actor and it’s not a “color issue”, than what is the issue? Let’s stop pretending like Idris Elba can only play one type of role and just keep it 100. In this instance, “too street” means too dark. In Horowitz’s mind, darker skin must equate to being scarier. Why else say that Idris Elba of all people is “too rough”?

And has Mr. Horowitz even seen any of the recent Bond films? Daniel Craig is the most roughed up Bond we’ve seen to date, facing grittier settings, incurring serious damage, and employing more brute force tactics. Craig spent most of the last film nursing gaping holes in his body and covered in soot. Sean Connery’s old school untouchable James Bond is no more; did he somehow miss that?

Honestly, I think any chance Elba might have had in playing James Bond has passed since his casting has been so heavily contested before it has even happened. But this nonsense is further proof of the barriers Black actors face in Hollywood. If somebody as fly as Idris Elba can be so easily typecast, we start to understand why actors with thinner resumes are so commonly cast as “Hoodlum #3”.

For me, I do my best to keep myself up. I workout sometimes. I present well. I speak eloquently. But every time Idris Elba steps out, I know my efforts ain’t worth a damn. If whatever he is putting out there is “street”, then us common folk don’t stand a chance.


Photo Credit: British GQ Magazine

The following two tabs change content below.

Daren W. Jackson

Daren is one half of the Water Cooler Convos team. He's a writer, music connoisseur, and comic book geek who spends his free time working on his novel and other short stories.