When award-winning British actor and musician Idris Elba started out in the entertainment business, he was cast in a medical series playing an African petty thief.
Bramwell was a big break. It was 1995 and he was just 23 years old.
He’s since been a god in the Avengers franchise, played Nelson Mandela, voiced several blockbuster animations, been a Fast & Furious villain, starred in The Wire, and won a Golden Globe in 2012 for BBC crime thriller series Luther.
And this week Elba is again at the centre of James Bond rumours and being tipped to take over the role vacated by five-time Bond Daniel Craig.
There’s just one problem, though.
Elba is 49 years old – turning 50 in September – and Bond was in his mid-30s in the novels written by James Bond creator Ian Fleming.
But that hasn’t stopped betting agency Sportsbet announcing on Thursday that Elba’s odds had shortened, pushing out favourite Tom Hardy of Mad Max fame.
“British actor Idris Elba has leaped into favouritism to become just the eighth actor to play secret agent Bond, James Bond,” Sportsbet’s Simon Legg said.
“Elba is best backed and holds almost six times more money than Rege-Jean Page (Bridgerton) and triple the bets than [Henry] Cavill (Superman), the second-best supported.
“Playing Bond is a coveted role and Idris has always been in the mix since Daniel Craig decided to end his time in the role.
“Punters are right behind him and have really made a move for the British star.”
Elba ‘part of the conversation’
Now the dust has settled on the last Bond movie No Time To Die, which eventually premiered in November after COVID-19 delays, it’s now time to make the big decision.
As Indiewire pointed out: “Hollywood’s biggest franchises move fast, and at some point soon, [long-time Bond producer Barbara] Broccoli will have to choose the next 007”.
In a Deadline podcast on January 19, Broccoli spoke about Elba.
“We know Idris, I’m friends with him,” she said.
“He’s a magnificent actor.
“You know, [Elba has] been part of the conversation, but it’s always difficult to have a conversation when you have somebody in the seat.
“I think we have decided that until No Time to Die has had its run, and Daniel has been able to – well, we’ve all been able to savour, reap the benefits of Daniel’s wonderful tenure, we’re not going to think about, or talk about, anybody else, actors to play the role, or storylines, or anything really.
“We just want to live in the moment.”
What does Elba thinks about playing Bond
Just last week, CBS This Morning’s Gayle King put that question to him while promoting Sonic The Hedgehog 2.
“You know, it’s one of those rumours that I’m proud to be considered, you know, a contender for Bond, of course,” Elba said.
“There’s like, it’s an incredible compliment to me. But as a career choice, it’s not one that I’ve pursued.
“I’ve never really pursued this rumour, you know. Listen, if it was offered to me, I would heavily consider it.
“But I don’t think it will be. It’s not in the cards.”
Three years ago, in a 2019 cover story with Vanity Fair, titled ‘How Idris Elba became the coolest man in Hollywood’, the talented DJ, musician and Coachella performer said it would be “fascinating” to play the handsome spy who gets the car, the gadgets and the beautiful women.
“James Bond is a hugely coveted, iconic, beloved character that takes audiences on this massive escapism journey,” Elba said.
“Of course, if someone said to me, ‘Do you want to play James Bond?’ I’d be like, ‘Yeah!’ That’s fascinating to me.
“But it’s not something I’ve expressed, like, ‘Yeah, I wanna be the Black James Bond’.
“Bond is one of the biggest franchises in the world, and for that reason, whoever ends up playing it lives it … you’re that character, and known as that character for many, many years.
“I’m creating characters now that can still live alongside Idris.
“Not ones that take over me and solely define me.”
Is it a sign?
Elba fans had been campaigning for years for him to be awarded People‘s Sexiest Man Alive.
In 2018, he was … and the internet exploded with delight and immediately suggested he be the next Bond.
“I was like, ‘Come on, no way. Really?’” Elba told People when he heard he won the title.
“Looked in the mirror, I checked myself out. I was like, ‘Yeah, you are kind of sexy today’. But to be honest, it was just a nice feeling. It was a nice surprise – an ego boost for sure.”
Elba, once on the fourth line of betting with Sportsbet, has now firmed from $5.50 to $2.50, with Hardy dropped from $3.25 to $10.
Page is $3.00 to slip into that famed tuxedo and Cavill is at $5.00. Pop star Harry Styles is a budding actor, but is $31 to land the role.
For the record
Craig played Bond five times, the first at age 38 in Casino Royale. He was 50 in No Time To Die and 53 when it was released.
Sean Connery was 32 in Dr No and was 41 after six films when he returned to the role and replaced George Lazenby as Bond in Diamonds Are Forever.
Pierce Brosnan was 42 when he played Bond in Goldeneye, and finished up his stint after four films at age 49 with Die Another Day.
Roger Moore was 45 when he first played Bond, finishing up at age 51 with Moonraker in 1979.
Either way, Screenrant says “similar to Batman, James Bond is about the character more so than the actor playing him, so paying attention to what makes him special, unique, and everlasting is what Bond 26 [the next film] should be all about”.