The author of an upcoming James Bond novel has been criticized for saying actor Idris Elba is “too street” to play 007 in the popular film versions of the iconic series.
Anthony Horowitz, who has been chosen to pen the next Bond novel by the Ian Fleming estate, told The Daily Mail his opinion was not based on race.
“For me, Idris Elba is a bit too rough to play the part. It’s not a colour issue,” Horowitz said.
“I think he is probably a bit too ‘street’ for Bond. Is it a question of being suave? Yeah.”
Elba, a British actor best known for his starring roles in crime series Luther and Nelson Mandela biopic Long Walk to Freedom, is the hot favourite to replace current star Daniel Craig.
“Idris Elba is a terrific actor, but I can think of other black actors who would do it better,” Horowitz said, naming Adrian Lester as his pick.
Twitter users accused Horowitz of racially profiling Elba based on his skin colour, prompting Horowitz to issue a public apology for his remarks.
“I’m really sorry my comments about Idris Elba have caused offence,” he said in a statement posted to Twitter on Wednesday.
“That wasn’t my intention. I was asked in my interview if Idris Elba would make a good James Bond. In the article I expressed the opinion that to my mind Adrian Lester would be a better choice but I’m a writer not a casting director so what do I know?
“Clumsily, I chose the word ‘street’ as Elba’s gritty portrayal of DCI John Luther was in my mind but I admit it was a poor choice of word. I am mortified to have caused offence.”
Daniel Craig has been open about his plans to leave the franchise, saying this year’s Spectre will likely be his last film as Bond.
Ask by Esquire this month if he had any plans to stay on, Craig responded: “I don’t know. I really don’t know. Honestly. I’m not trying to be coy. At the moment I can’t even conceive it.”
“At this moment, no. I have a life and I’ve got to get on with it a bit. But we’ll see.”