RELEVANT Roundtable is when we ask our slate of culture writers a question and compile their responses. This week’s question: If Idris Elba isn’t going to play James Bond, then who should?
Tyler Huckabee: Daniel Craig reinvented Bond as a sort of damaged meathead, and I’m interested in our next 007 taking the character in a similarly unexpected direction. To that end, I nominate Daniel Kaluuya, seen most recently in Black Panther and Get Out. One of Kaluuya’s great strengths as an actor is a thrilling liveliness in his eyes that is often at odds with what he’s actually saying. In Get Out, his gaze could communicate startled vulnerability and wary calculation with the devilishly simple flutter of his pupils. You can really see the wheels turning in a Kaluuya performance, and that would bring a cerebral savvy to a Bond that has, for the better part of a generation, been little more than a right hook in dire need of therapy.
Matt Conner: Let’s be honest: There’s nothing more for James Bond to accomplish. He’s operated and crashed every vehicle, saved the world from nuclear winter and probably slept with women from every continent. My proposal: Reinvent the franchise with Michael Caine as a fragile, aging Bond. Every Bond film zooms around the globe like it’s no problem, so let’s show Bond wearing compression socks and struggling with time zones. Let’s see him woo a woman with a game of shuffleboard instead of a cocktail and a romp in the sack. Let’s see him drive a Buick longer than a giraffe’s neck instead of an Aston Martin. Even when he repeats his name, it could be because of failing memory: “Bond … er, yeah, I’m James Bond. Sorry I sometimes forget.”
Travis Roberts: Well, since Superman and Spider-Man are both played by Brits, I think it’s only fair that the most American movie star gets to play James Bond: My vote goes to Sam the Eagle.
Tyler Daswick: Bond should be British, look good in lots of different outfits and demonstrate equal aptitude in moments of high class and high action. Not among the requirements: Be a dude. So give the nod to Hayley Atwell. She’s been a spy already as Agent Peggy Carter in the MCU, but she’s really flexed her acting chops in Black Mirror’s “Be Right Back” and last spring’s Howard’s End miniseries. Atwell can be poised and elegant, but also biting, witty and exuberant. What’s more, she’d give the franchise an opportunity to play with tone, style and period. A Bond movie set in the 1950s, with a woman running point on the espionage? Who’s not seeing that?
Seth Tower Hurd: I vote for Bryan Wilson, the American lawyer internet famous for being the “Texas Law Hawk” in late-night cable TV commercials. He can jump from moving vehicles with poise, rock a finely tailored suit, turn a phrase and kick down a door. That’s a pretty good short list of Bond requirements.
Jon Negroni: James Bond is more than gadgets and bravado. At his best, he’s a complex blank slate, a reflection of the values and expectations thrust upon him, sometimes by the current era. A character actor along those lines could seriously be Ed Skrein, likely known best as the main antagonist of the first Deadpool. He’s no stranger to action movies, of course, and he exhibits the gentleman traits we know well in Bond actors over the years. But Skrein also has an undeniable swagger that could wake up the franchise a bit with something newer compared to Craig’s more stoic take on the classic character.