The British actor David Oyelowo today contributed to the ongoing debate around whether the next actor to play James Bond could be black by declaring, 'The audience is ready for it.'
The 40-year-old 'Selma' star began a speech at the Black Star Symposium at the London Film Festival – a one-day event examining issues of racial diversity in the film industry – by saying that he was fed up of talking about diversity, or the lack of it, in cinema and TV.
'Diversity. That word is to me is what the words "James Bond" must be for Idris Elba,' he joked. 'I’m going to be very honest with you. I’m really tired of talking about diversity.'
Later on, Time Out asked Oyelowo to elaborate on his comments about Idris Elba, and he spoke more seriously about whether Elba, or any black actor, could be the next 007.
'My true feeling about the Bond thing is that there’s this conversation around a person of colour playing it because it’s just indicative of the fact that there is an audience that has an appetite for it.'
He also had a message for the producers of the 007 movies: ignore fans at your peril. 'Any resistance from people who can actually implement the decision is becoming very, very questionable,' he suggested.
Would Oyelowo himself like to have a crack at the role?
'I wouldn’t rule it out. It’s a fantastic opportunity and a fantastic franchise. It’s not something I wake up in the morning going, "Oooh, I want to do Bond." I really like the idea of playing a myriad of characters. But I just love that this is a conversation being driven by the audience.'
David Oyelowo stars in 'A United Kingdom', which opens in cinemas on Friday November 25.