James Bond franchise producer Barbara Broccoli has reportedly said “it is time” for an ethnic actor to star as 007, and she is certain “it will happen eventually”. This view was passed along by director Antoine Fuqua (Equalizer 2) and published by Daily Star reporter Robin Cottle.
If it’s “time” for the leading black candidate, Idris Elba, to step into the coveted role, why is Broccoli saying it’ll happen “eventually”? Her assessments don’t jibe. If she’d said “it’s not quite time but it’ll happen eventually,” then the statements would agree. It sounds to me like Broccoli is saying “yes, today’s movie culture is totally ready for and perhaps even clamoring for a black 007 — I get that — but I’m not sure I want to push that button just yet.”
Esquire‘s Matt Miller has written that Broccoli’s quote “isn’t much, but it’s a good sign that Bond producers are at least leaning in the right direction.” Which indicates that in Miller’s mind, there’s a wrong direction. I presume that means that a traditional studly British white guy in the Sean Connery mold — Henry Cavill, say — would be the “wrong” way to go.
From a certain perspective, Miller is right. It is time for Elba, but Cavill really has that naturally muscular X-factor quality, Glenn Kenny will call me a grand wizard for saying this, but Cavill is a better “traditional” fit than Elba. Traditional as in “to the manor born.” Cavill’s villain role in Mission: Impossible — Fallout convinced me of this. He has wit, looks, clarity and presence, and he’s an above-average actor.
I totally agree that Elba would be a great, forward-looking choice — tall, strapping, good-looking, dignified, that air of dry irony. But Cavill is Connery II, and more so than Lazenby, Moore, Dalton, Brosnan or Craig. Ask the rabid fan base who’s been the best Bond ever. The majority will still say Connery.