Recent rumours suggested Idris Elba is being considered to play James Bond in the next installment of the franchise. The possible decision to cast a black actor in the traditionally white role immediately drew controversy and criticism.
However, this isn’t the first time a role previously held by a white actor has been recast in recent years. Examples include…
- Quvenzhané Wallis as Annie Bennett in Annie
- Samuel L. Jackson as Nick Fury in The Avengers series
- Michael B. Jordan as Johnny Storm in Fantastic Four
- Mos Def as Ford Prefect in The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy
- Morgan Freeman as Red in The Shawshank Redemption
- Will Smith as Agent J in the Men In Black series
- Michael Clarke Duncan as Kingpin in Daredevil
- Sam Jones III as Pete Ross in the Smallville series
- Idris Elba as Heimdall in the Thor series
- Laurence Fishburne as Perry White in Man of Steel
- Brandy Norwood and Whitney Houston in ABC’s version of Cinderella
- Billy Dee Williams as Harvey Dent in the 1989 adaptation of Batman
- The cast of Steel Magnolias in the 2012 Lifetime remake
This increasingly common move reflects a change in the film and television industry to feature realistic diversity. And although public criticism still happens and token characters who are defined by their race first are still being cast, this shift is a critical move and is something we applaud.
You can celebrate diversity in film by attending the Toronto Black Film Festival, on now until Sunday, Feb. 15. Check out the full lineup of films, a Community Program and special events including the Blaxploitation Party here.