Idris Elba covers Vanity Fair, talks James Bond, comic books & race

Royal Academy Of Arts Summer Party

CB and I disagree on men all the time. She loves a baldie, and she generally prefers clean-shaven men. I like men with a lot of hair everywhere – I don’t like shaved heads (although there are a few bald dudes who could get it) and I love a three-day beard or a full-on beard or even goatee. But can CB and I come together and say that while Idris Elba is always a good looking man, he just looks WEIRD without facial hair? I don’t mind the shaved-head – that looks good on him. But he needs a mustache and preferably a neatly trimmed beard. All that being said, I’m happy Idris Elba got the cover of Vanity Fair. It’s nice. Idris has a million projects to promote, from the Cats film, to Luther, to his Netflix show Turn Up Charlie to Hobbs & Shaw. You can read the full VF piece here. Some highlights:

Growing up in East London’s Canning Town: “Needless to say, if you were black and living in Canning Town, you were probably subject to racial abuse and getting chased down the street by people calling you a black coon.”

His black role models growing up: “There were a handful of black actors and performers in this country, in the music space. Reggae, which was a shared, big U.K. experience. English people love reggae. Because the majority of black people in this country were from the Caribbean, they came with the music. So you were seeing, on TV, reggae bands, reggae-white fusion bands. But in terms of actors, there were very few.”

He was a novelty when he first tried to get work in America: “When I got to America and was like, I want to be an actor, I was like a novelty act in all my casting meetings… They were like ‘Wow! I love your accent, it’s so refined,’ ‘Okay, so: you’re Gangster No. 1.’ ”

On the James Bond rumors: “James Bond is a hugely coveted, iconic, beloved character, that takes audiences on this massive escapism journey. 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….”

He was disappointed by the backlash to the idea of a Black 007: “Because, by the way, we’re talking about a spy. If you really want to break it down, the more less-obvious it is, the better. You just get disheartened, when you get people from a generational point of view going, ‘It can’t be.’ And it really turns out to be the color of my skin. And then if I get it and it didn’t work, or it did work, would it be because of the color of my skin? That’s a difficult position to put myself into when I don’t need to.”

He’s proud of his work in the Marvel movies: “Suddenly you realize that black kids read comics. That whole skater, fanboy crowd—well, black people love these things too. Kenneth Branagh, who directed the first one, just said, ‘I love you as an actor. I’m going to give you this role.’ ”

[From VF]

There’s tons of other stuff in there, more talk of Luther and Idris’s childhood and how he wants to use his fame-privilege to give more actors of color more opportunities. He doesn’t break any news, it’s just a nice interview and very thorough to boot. It’s the kind of cover story Vanity Fair would have done with Leonardo DiCaprio, so I’m glad Idris is being treated the same. But these photos… ugh, grow out your beard again! I wonder if he shaved it because it was coming in too grey.

Cover and photos courtesy of Vanity Fair.

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34 Responses to “Idris Elba covers Vanity Fair, talks James Bond, comic books & race”

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  1. Celebitchy says:

    Yes we can agree! He looks so weird without facial hair

  2. Megan says:

    Facial hair, no facial hair, he is still fabulous looking.

    • PlainJane says:

      +1 I would not say no. He can pound my yams any day.

    • LahdidahBaby says:

      Yes, omg, he is my dream boo, facial hair or no. But I do prefer him with some facial hair.

      I’m truly not someone who has had TV/movie star crushes—Idris is my first ever. And I’m embarrassed to admit that his recent marriage kind of hurt my feelings.

  3. Case says:

    He looks like a different man without facial hair, wow.

    I get so tired of the James Bond talk. There’s still another one with Daniel Craig in the works, so why have people been asked about this for YEARS? It’s tiresome. I think he’d make a great James Bond, btw, I just don’t see why it’s included in every interview.

  4. Jadedone says:

    He would be perfect as Bond, he exudes charisma

  5. Megan Hurley says:

    Jeez, Louise, when will he accept he’s not becoming the next Bond? Please, he needs to stop talking about it, they’re not going to give him the role!

    • Kebbie says:

      The writer of James Bond publicly said Idris was “too street” which was just coded language for “too black.” He brought Idris into the conversation, so Idris can talk about it as much as he wants as far as I’m concerned.

      • MrsBanjo says:

        @KEBBIE this exactly. Putting it on Idris for addressing something that others brought up in the first place is ridiculous.

      • LahdidahBaby says:

        He actually said Idris was “too street”?!? Jesus, that’s scarcely coded racist bullshit!

        What I love about Idris is that he can play it equally well rough or elegant, sweats or a tux, and he’s still the most interesting and attractive man in the room.

    • MrsBanjo says:

      HE’S not the one that keeps bringing it up, fans and interviewers do. He’s said repeatedly that it’s not likely to happen.

      • Tulip says:

        Every actor who gets considered for the Bond role (by people who hold the script or by fans) gets dragged for looking too desperate. At this point I think it must be an excuse to be b*tchy about an actor when there’s no other reason.

        Who ever gets hired for ANY new Bond film, it will be someone who works hard and jumps through hoops because that’s how it is. The people who do the hiring for this role really come across as stuck up @ssholes. And they would be damn lucky to get Idris as Bond.

  6. elimaeby says:

    That whole last paragraph was fascinating to me. My boyfriend is black and is obsessed with superhero movies, comic books, the whole thing. 90% of his non-dress shirts are comic book characters (most of which I haven’t even heard of).

    He’s always telling me stories about growing up a skater kid and being into stuff a lot of people deemed “white kid stuff” like the alt/emo music of the early 2000s. He apparently felt the need to toe the line between his white friends and black friends growing up, and sometimes didn’t feel like he acted “black enough” because of the stuff he was into.

    It’s something I never thought of until we met, because I’ve never heard a white person say that they felt weird for liking hip-hop or anything even remotely similar.

  7. Kebbie says:

    Hey look! It’s the black guy from The Wire!

  8. Valiantly Varnished says:

    He’s still very handsome without it. I think people are simply used to seeing him with facial hair and so that’s what we all prefer.

    His comments about growing up black in Britain are very telling. So many people across the pond ( white Brits) like to pretend that they don’t have the same racial issues we have here in America. Yet time and time again British POC state otherwise. There is a REAL disconnect over there in terms of the reality of racial disparity.

  9. Mia4s says:

    He’s too old for new Bond. Just stating facts. And he’ll be fine without it.

    I’m on board with the people saying it should be Dev Patel. Young, a vulnerable edge, and can play suave. If we have to keep this character going (must we?) that’s my pick.

    • MrsBanjo says:

      That doesn’t even make sense. He’s four years younger than Daniel Craig who’s currently making another Bond film as we speak.

      And here is an article that gives ages of Bond actors at first and last appearances. Just stating facts.

      • Mia4s says:

        Daniel Craig was 37 when he first played the part, Elba is 46 now. So he’s be at least 49 or so when his first Bond comes out (more likely 50). Every indication is they are looking for someone in their 30s. They need someone who can carry the franchise at least a decade and draw in a younger film goers. Long time older fans will show up regardless. And let’s be honest, Craig likely stayed too long already (he’s already injured), and he’s stopping at the age Elba would be starting? Ridiculous.

        And as far as that chart goes? I mean, come on. Things have so clearly changed. It couldn’t be more clear. People still mock Roger Moore’s last few appearances in Bond. A View to a Kill was absolutely painful on every level.

  10. Lucy says:

    I know his personal life may or may not be quite messy, but he seems like a decent guy. I usually find myself agreeing with him on several topics. I will always love the answer he gave to whether men should be scared now that women are daring to speak out on the abuse they have suffered. It was pretty much “if you truly are innocent, there’s nothing to fear. If you’re afraid, you’re probably guilty”.

    • Kebbie says:

      I never heard that quote, it’s a great answer. Disappointing that not all men see it that way.

    • DaggerIsle says:

      “It’s only difficult if you’re a man with something to hide.”

      This was his response. Succinct and 100% right.

  11. Loretta says:

    I need Idris Elba as the new James Bond ASAP

  12. Raina says:

    Kaiser, I think you mean my boyfriend is on the cover of Vanity fair. I needed to fix that 😉

  13. kerwood says:

    I love what he said about being Black and British. My parents left England when we were quite young because they didn’t think that England was the right place to raise Black children. Growing up in Canada was no picnic, but I had to go back to London, where I was born, to have someone spit in my face while I walking down the street. And it always makes me laugh to see how amazed Americans are when they hear a British accent coming out of a Black person. They act like they’ve just seen a talking dog. People don’t seem to understand that there were Black people in England when Shakespeare was an actor, that all of those wonderful houses that are featured in Jane Austen novels and episodes of Downton Abbey were paid for with Black sweat and blood, that Black men from the colonies fought and died in BOTH world wars, and the sixties didn’t start swinging until Black folks from the Caribbean started showing up in real numbers. Hey England, you’re welcome.

    I don’t think the Bond people were ever serious about Idris playing 007. They just used his name and popularity to prop up their tired old franchise. He’s STILL the most interesting thing about Bond, even though Daniel Craig decided to sell his soul for the big bucks.

  14. Suzy says:

    I thought Idris would be a perfect Bond long before it ever came up. He’s just perfect for that role. He reeks class and charisma. I’ve been binge watching Luther on Netflix. If you like weird and creepy, it’s good. And, of course, there’s Idris in pretty much every scene.

  15. FF says:

    He should have been cast as Alex Cross. I will never get how that hasn’t happened already.

    He has always been perfect for that franchise, and it’s ridiculous that *that* hasn’t had ten reboots until it caught considering how long and successful the book series is.

    (I mean you have a choice between Idris Elba and Tyler Perry and you choose Tyler Perry? I just assumed they wanted it to fail, tbh.)