For several years now, rumor has had it that the next actor to play the hard-drinking, womanizing MI6 agent might be Idris Elba, the London-born actor best known for his roles as Stringer Bell in The Wire and Nelson Mandela in Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom. Much of this conjecture has manifested in betting offices, as most decisions of national consequence do. Most recently, Elba’s odds at the bookmaker William Hill are 5/2, making him the favorite in a race that also includes the Man of Steel actor Henry Cavill (7/1) and The Walking Dead’s Andrew Lincoln (14/1). But in recent days, odds have shortened considerably on the Homeland and Wolf Hall star Damian Lewis, prompting media speculation that he’s “in the running” to take on the role.
Never mind that the current Bond, Daniel Craig, has a contract that locks him in for another film after the upcoming Spectre. As it always has, the British press treats any rumor about the next 007 with the kind of hysteria usually reserved for the birth of a future king, or the choosing of a new pope. The fictional MI6 spy is still one of the country's most popular exports, hence the handwringing that goes on whenever change is discussed. Any fuss about Lewis’s red hair would echo the outcry Daniel Craig weathered ten years ago as the first strawberry-blonde Bond (promptly silenced by the release of the acclaimed Casino Royale). But with Elba, the debate enters much more sensitive territory, as the franchise’s reactionary fan base wrestles with the possibility that the next 007 might not be White.