Pearl-clutching Time: Black Actors in “White” Roles

2. Idris Elba, Thor (2011)


Fans take their book characters very seriously but even more so with comic book characters, it seems. Folks went straight ballistic when Idris Elba was cast as the Nordic god Heimdall, a character in Marvel’s Thor. The Hollywood Reporter said Elba called the debate ridiculous and called out Hollywood for casting Elizabeth Taylor to play Cleopatra and Ben Kingsley as Gandhi. Making this silly situation more sad, that’s not the first time Elba’s heard backlash at the prospect of playing a White character. A number of fans overwhelmingly supported the actor being cast as the next James Bond after actor Daniel Craig ends his run as the British icon. But the writer of the recently released Bond novel said Elba is “too street” to play the character. Many took that to mean he was just too Black to play the British spy, but Elba is an English actor and if Hollywood would go that route, there’d be no one better for the role.

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