Latest James Bond scribe says Idris Elba ‘too street’ to play 007 -- and later apologizes

Idris Elba arriving at the 2014 Palm Springs International Film Festival awards gala. Elba is, according to the new James Bond scribe, "too street" to play Bond.

Idris Elba arriving at the 2014 Palm Springs International Film Festival awards gala. Elba is, according to the new James Bond scribe, “too street” to play Bond.

(Jay L. Clendenin / Los Angeles Times)

First of all, Anthony Horowitz may be a bestselling author in England, but he’s not Ian Fleming.

Fleming created James Bond, who made his first appearance in the 1953 novel “Casino Royale” and immediately became a hit. Fleming had served in British naval intelligence during World War II and began his career as a novelist while living in Jamaica.

He continued to write the wildly popular Bond stories at a rate of about a book a year until his death in 1964, living to see Sean Connery portray the spy in the first two films, “Dr. No” and “From Russia With Love.”

Horowitz, known for his teen spy Alex Rider series, has been brought on by the Fleming estate to write the newest Bond book, “Trigger Mortis.” He’s one of several writers to have continued the Bond series, including Sebastian Faulks, William Boyd, Jeffrey Deaver, John Gardner, Raymond Benson and Kingsley Amis writing as Robert Markham.

Horowitz has something to say about the casting of the next Bond. He thinks Idris Elba, rumored to be a strong contender for the role, is “too street.”


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

Elba came to the attention of American audiences in “The Wire,” where he played Stringer Bell, a gang leader with a head for business. In the British television series “Luther,” he plays a brilliant but haunted homicide detective. He played Heimdall in “The Avengers: Age of Ultron” and “Thor.” He has upcoming roles in “Star Trek Beyond,” “Beasts of No Nation” and the spy thriller “Bastille Day.” And he portrayed South African hero Nelson Mandela, a Nobel Peace Prize winner, in the 2013 biopic “Mandela: Long Walk Home.”

According to his filmography, it’s hard to see what Horowitz means by “too street.” The Root asks, “Is that code for ‘too black?’ ” — and answers with a number of wry responses from Twitter.

With that post and many others, the discussion was sparked. Twitter users were so incensed by Horowitz’s comments that soon enough, “Idris Elba” was trending.

After noticing the negative attention, Horowitz, writing that he was “mortified” by the response, posted an apology on Twitter.

“I’m really sorry my comments about Idris Elba have caused offence. 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.”

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