With Daniel Craig stepping down from the role of James Bond, there’s a lot of talk about who will fill his shoes. While a number of names have been put forward, lots of people think it’s about time there was a black James Bond. So what are the arguments against and for a black James Bond? Read on to find out…
Arguments against a black actor taking on the role of James Bond focus on the fact that James Bond is white, as is stated in the films’ source material, the books by Ian Fleming. To put it simply: people think if a character is described in a particular way, that character should be played by someone who matches the description in the source material. For example, if a character is described as being black, a black actor should play him; likewise a white actor should play a white character. There’s been some controversy in Hollywood concerning ‘whitewashing’ – where white actors play the parts of non-white people, and ‘blackwashing’ – where non-white actors are given the roles of white characters so that the studios can say they’ve been more inclusive by featuring more actors of diverse backgrounds. A recent example of whitewashing came about when it was reported that Leonardo DiCaprio was being lined up to play the role of 13th century Persian poet Jalal ad-Din Muhammad Rumi – many are annoyed that Rumi, who clearly wasn’t white, could be played by a white actor. If real people have to be played by actors of the same skin colour, the same should apply for fictional characters, shouldn’t it? If James Bond is described in the books as white, it follows that he should be played by a white actor.
On the other hand, there are many who are completely for a black James Bond. They don’t think the description of the character in the books is something that’s completely set in stone; they believe that the character’s physical appearance doesn’t have any effect on the story, so it really doesn’t matter what colour skin an actor playing him has. It should be about the abilities of the actor, not his skin tone. When the principal cast of Harry Potter and the Cursed Child was announced, many complained about the fact that the role of Hermione Granger was to be played by black actress Noma Dumezweni – as J.K. Rowling pointed out, they hadn’t cast a ‘black Hermione’, they’d simply cast a Hermione. In other words, the actress thought best for the job was cast and her skin colour isn’t important at all because it makes no difference to the story being told. Hermione isn’t explicitly described as black in the books – in fact, her ethnicity isn’t outrightly stated, so you could well argue that it’s up for the reader to decide what race she is. But again, many people think this doesn’t matter because whether the actress playing her is white or not, it’s all about the acting and should always be that way. Descriptions don’t always have to be adhered to 100% and they should be open to interpretation. Of course, if we’re talking about a real person, the actor playing them should be of the same skin colour, but if it’s a fictional character, does it really matter what their skin colour is?
What do you think?
What do you think about a black actor taking on the role of James Bond? Is James Bond only to be played by white actors or should the actor’s ethnicity be disregarded in favour of his ability to play the spy? And if James Bond is to be played by a black actor, should other white characters be played by black actors and vice versa?