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SNL Took Aim at Idris Elba’s James Bond Rumors
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Idris Elba hosted last night’s episode of Saturday Night Live, and the sketch show made sure to take a jab at the rumors surrounding Elba’s potential casting as the next James Bond.
The Bond joke arrived as the perfect kicker to a sketch called “Can I Play That?”, which mocked the controversy surrounding Will Smith’s casting as Serena and Venus Williams’s father, Richard, in an upcoming film. Casting the lighter-skinned Smith as the darker-skinned Williams fits a common Hollywood pattern that often finds light skinned or biracial black performers playing real-world figures of a significantly darker hue, all while dark skinned actors—and especially actresses—can struggle to find land leading rolls.
SNL’s co-head writer Colin Jost may have some personal insight into such casting debates—he’s in a long-term relationship with Scarlett Johansson, who’s found herself at the center of two casting controversies for accepting roles as an Asian woman and trans man. (She stepped back from the latter part amid backlash.)
In the sketch, Elba joined Cecily Strong and Beck Bennett as actors participating in a game show where they must field questions from host Kenan Thompson as to whether they prove a demographic fit for hypothetical roles. When Elba insisted he could play a blind person, Thompson shook his head. “God took their sight, and now you want to take their jobs?” he asked.
“Isn’t that what acting’s about, becoming someone else?” responded a perplexed Elba.
“Not anymore, no,” Thompson replied. “Now it’s about becoming yourself, but with a different haircut.”
This all culminated in a pointed jab at the years of will-they-or-won’t-they rumors surrounding Elba’s potential casting as the next 007. At the end of the segment, Thompson announced that after the break he would return with the final round, “Can you play James Bond?”
“Hey, I know the answer to that one!” Elba interjected.
“Do you, though?” asked an incredulous Thompson.
Elba has lately been candid about the fact that won’t be playing Bond, and said during a recent interview that he has little interest in taking roles so iconic that they threaten to pigeonhole him. Still, he teased the possibility of a Bond casting for years before setting the record straight. Check out the sketch below, and fast forward to the very end for the Bond quip.