Idris Elba "Disheartened" over James Bond Casting Rumors Backlash Because of "the Color of My Skin"

Hobbs & Shaw star Idris Elba admits to feeling "disheartened" over push back against long-persisting rumors he's in the running for the next 007, but Elba as the first black James Bond is something the actor says isn't happening.

"You just get disheartened, when you get people from a generational point of view going, 'It can't be,'" Elba told Vanity Fair. "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."

Elba earlier acknowledged a less-obvious Bond would work: in a 2018 interview with PEOPLE, Elba suggested the long-running franchise "do something different" with the character. The new Bond "could be a black woman, it could be a white woman," he said.

"Because, by the way," he told Vanity Fair, "we're talking about a spy. If you really want to break it down, the more less-obvious it is, the better."

In its lengthy interview with Elba, Vanity Fair reports the star "doesn't love to talk about" Bond rumors.

"James Bond is a hugely coveted, iconic, beloved character, that takes audiences on this massive escapism journey," he said. "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."

Last summer, reports surfaced claiming Elba was the frontrunner for the role, succeeding Daniel Craig. Such buzz was quickly debunked, but the rumors rumors haven't quieted — and Elba's Thor co-star Chris Hemsworth publicly named the former Heimdall actor as his pick for the next 007.

But the 46-year-old actor previously expressed a belief he was too old for such a role, calling it the "wildest rumor in the world" during a 2016 stop to Good Morning America.

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"If I'm really honest, man, I think I'm too old for that," a then-43-year-old Elba said. "I'd be running around in cars and ladies and martinis — who wants to do that? It sounds terrible!"

In September, another rumor claimed franchise producers wanted Superman star Henry Cavill as Craig's replacement. 23-year-old Spider-Man star Tom Holland continues to campaign in an effort to one day win the role of the suave super spy.