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Author apologizes after saying Idris Elba too ‘street’ to play Bond

Jordan Strauss/Invision/AP, File

British actor Idris Elba, best known for his roles in “The Wire” and “Luther,” has been floated for years as a smart choice to be the next James Bond, and thus the first nonwhite Bond. But now Anthony Horowitz, the author of a new James Bond novel called “Trigger Mortis,” has sparked online outrage by telling the Daily Mail that he thinks Elba, who is black, is “too rough to play the part” and too “street” to be the debonair 007.

“Idris Elba is a terrific actor, but I can think of other black actors who would do it better,” Horowitz said. He went on to say that, “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.’”


That was all it took for the Twittersphere to light up and make Idris Elba the top trending storyline on social media and start cries of racism directed at Horowitz, who quickly posted a note on Twitter apologizing.
So who exactly is Horowitz and does his opinion matter on this subject?

As the Daily Mail explains, “He was the obvious man to hire when Ian Fleming’s estate wanted a writer to create a new 007 adventure as close as possible to the style of the originals.” Fleming, of course, was the English author who created the Bond character in his series of books that started with “Casino Royale” in 1952. Fleming died in 1964, but his character has lived on through the big screen Bonds, of which there have been many.

Sean Connery. George Lazenby. Roger Moore. Timothy Dalton. Pierce Brosnan. And today’s Bond, Daniel Craig, whose newest Bond film, “Spectre” might be his last as 007.

Connery is widely regarded as having been the best Bond, and it’s been a toss-up for the worst, between Lazenby and Dalton. This 007 website has a good roundup of the Bonds. Craig’s appointment to the role was not without its own controversy, as critics said his blond hair and shorter stature didn’t fit the stereotypical “tall, dark, and handsome” mold. There’s even a website called DanielCraigIsNotBond.com.


But just because Horowitz doesn’t like the idea of an Elba Bond, does that mean it will never happen?

After all, Elba recently graced the cover of Maxim looking not too shabby, and he is a frequent name on best-dressed lists, most notably British GQ. And if you’ve ever watched him act, he sort of personifies the definition of suave and smooth.

As for the the film rights to James Bond, Horowitz has nothing to do with that. They are controlled by Eon Productions, not the Fleming estate, which hired Horowitz. But that won’t stop the attacks.

As Horowitz told the Daily Mail, however, it’s important to remember also that Bond, himself, was not exactly a gem when it came to stereotypes: “Bond is not the most sympathetic of characters when you actually think about him. He is a man who kills people. He has unfortunate attitudes towards women, gays, Jews and foreigners.”

The issue surfaced last year amid the Sony email hack scandal when an email was leaked from Sony Pictures co-chair Amy Pascal to Columbia Pictures excecutive Elizabeth Cantillon, which read: “Idris should be the next bond.”

As for Elba himself, late last year he addressed the Bond question with Bond-like charm.

Doug Most can be reached at dmost@globe.com. Follow him on Twitter @Globedougmost