Idris Elba on James Bond: ‘I’m not going to be that guy’

Idris Elba

British actor Idris Elba speaks during the World Government Summit in Dubai, United Arab Emirates, Tuesday, Feb. 14, 2023. While on stage, Elba brought up the persistent discussions about him taking over as Ian Fleming’s famed British spy 007. (AP Photo/Kamran Jebreili)

DUBAI, United Arab Emirates (AP) — Actor Idris Elba says he’s going to stick with being the tormented detective John Luther — not James Bond.

Speaking Tuesday to the World Government Summit in Dubai, Elba brought up the persistent discussions about him taking over as Ian Fleming’s famed British spy. Those had grown louder after Daniel Craig’s demise as Bond in the 25th film in the franchise called “No Time to Die.”

Asked about his upcoming film based on the British series “Luther,” Elba clearly took himself out of playing 007.

“It’s very dark,” Elba said of the series. “We’ve been working on the television show for about 10 years and so the natural ambition is to take it to the big screen, and so we’re here with the first movie.”

He added: “You know, a lot of people talk about another character that begins with ‘J’ and ends with ‘B,’ but I’m not going to be that guy. I’m going to be John Luther. That’s who I am.”

“Luther: The Fallen Sun” is due to come out in American theaters on Feb. 24, then stream on Netflix beginning March 10. It also co-stars Andy Serkis and other actors from the television series.

Elba, 50, is known for a variety of television and film roles, ranging from Stringer Bell on the American television series “The Wire” and the recent movie “Beast.”

While on stage, Elba discussed an upcoming film he’s working on with the American actor and wrestler John Cena called “The Heads of State.”

“He plays the American president. I play the British prime minister,” Elba said. “We get into a caper. I’m very excited about doing that because leadership comes in many different forms.”

In recent weeks, Elba has appeared at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, where he and his wife Sabrina Dhowre Elba received an award for their work on food security in Africa. Elba also has worked as an anti-crime ambassador with his “Don’t Stab Your Future” initiative in the United Kingdom, where he grew up in east London.

During his talk, Elba urged nations to invest more in creative industries, saying it can provide an economic engine that provides jobs to their youth. In particular, he said creative jobs could greatly help countries in Africa.

“I believe that Africa, especially as a continent, needs to hold a narrative, change a narrative,” he said.

Discussing storytelling, Elba also praised Dubai for its “incredible tourism story” that it has developed over the last decades. The city-state is seeing a new real estate boom, fueled in part by Russian cash amid Moscow’s war on Ukraine.

“I think Dubai should win an Oscar because the (place) is incredible,” Elba said to applause. “It’s a very, very good job and other countries should take note.”

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Follow Jon Gambrell on Twitter at www.twitter.com/jongambrellAP.

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