Live and Let Die villain Yaphet Kotto: “James Bond cannot be black”

"Black men should stop trying to play roles created by whites," says 007's Mr Big. "Put a black man in a role that no one else has established”

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Former Bond villain Yaphet Kotto has spoken out against the idea of a black actor taking on the role of Ian Fleming’s world-famous spy when Daniel Craig relinquishes his licence to kill. 

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The 75-year-old actor, who played Dr Kanaga/Mr Big – the franchise’s first major black villain – in 1973’s Live and Let Die, told The Big Issue: “He cannot be black. Political correctness be damned.

“James Bond was established by Ian Fleming as a white character, played by white actors. Play 003 or 006, but you cannot be 007. A lot of people say we should be allowed to play everything. Don’t be ridiculous,” he added, suggesting that if he ever asked to play JFK he should be “laughed out of the room.”

“Black men should stop trying to play roles created by whites. These roles are not written for black men. We have pens. Put a black man in a role that no one else has established.”

Kotto’s remarks come two weeks after French news magazine Paris Match quoted former Bond Sir Roger Moore as saying: “A few years ago, I said that Cuba Gooding Jnr would make an excellent Bond, but it was a joke!”

“Although James may have been played by a Scot, a Welshman and an Irishman, I think he should be ‘English-English’. Nevertheless, it’s an interesting idea, but unrealistic.”

87-year-old Moore – who also made his 007 debut in Live and Let Die – later took to Twitter to explain his comments had been taken out of context: 

Idris Elba – best known for starring in TV series The Wire and Luther – has long been the subject of James Bond rumours, topping many bookies’ odds as the man to take over as 007 when Craig steps down. 

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Although, the Long Walk to Freedom actor doesn’t hold much hope of winning the role when it eventually becomes available: “Honestly, it’s a rumour that’s really starting to eat itself,” he told an audience at London’s BFI on Tuesday. “If there was ever any chance of me getting Bond, it’s gone.”