Is Idris Elba James Bond? Not Quite, But He’s Come Surprisingly Close

Idris Elba isn’t James Bond yet, as much as rumors have been suggesting it. Daniel Craig has been rumored to be stepping down after four films, following in the footsteps of Pierce Brosnan.

The idea of Idris becoming Agent 007 is the result of a recent movement in Hollywood calling for more diversity in film. After rumors started rising about Daniel Craig giving up the Walther PPK and passing the 007 baton, there has been a demand for a black James Bond.

The “palette swap” casting has actually been done for years already, with Michael Clarke Duncan’s explosive performance as Kingpin in the critically derided Daredevil, and Billy Dee Williams playing the role of Harvey Dent in Batman Returns. It has simply been put under a larger spotlight lately as Hollywood looks for ways to put blacks and women in more roles. Idris himself has even been confirmed to play Roland in the Dark Tower movie.

Of course we won’t know if Idris Elba is the next James Bond until MGM announces it, but the British actor has done the next best thing. On Friday, he visited Buckingham Palace and met with Prince Charles, the Duke of Cambridge, his mother Eve in tow. While there, he was recognized for his service in Hollywood drama in films such as Beasts of No Nation, Luther, Pacific Rim, and The Wire. Idris was given a medallion as an Officer of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire, according to ABC News.

As an added bonus, Idris Elba posted a photo to Twitter of himself alongside his mother, who was beaming with pride that her son had earned such a high honor, along with the caption, “Made my Mum very happy today!” Another photo posted said he was “Flying the East End flag at Buckingham Palace today,” a reference to his old London neighborhood, says E! Online.

While Idris Elba wasn’t given James Bond’s license to kill, receiving such an honor from Prince Charles proves that he’s been “killing it” on the big screen. It may be possible in a few more years that he will be knighted by the Queen herself, much like other distinguished British actors like Sean Connery and Michael Caine.

Idris Elba wasn’t the only one to earn almost James Bond honors. Alongside him were Blur and Gorillaz frontman Damon Albarn, wildlife conservationist Iain Douglas-Hamilton, and retired soccer (or football in other nations) player Denis Law. Law was named Commander of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire for his contribution to sports and charity work.

If Idris Elba actually does end up as the next James Bond, it will mirror his actual honors from his meeting with the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge. It won’t be the first time the casting choice will deviate from Ian Fleming’s original character though. Roger Moore defied the British spy’s appearance as the first Bond actor without dark hair, though he did give a more suave personality to the character after Connery’s more action-prone version. Daniel Craig broke the appearance again, but he was once again more of an action hero, putting Pierce Brosnan’s version to rest. Personality-wise, Idris Elba could definitely make a classic entry to the lineup of James Bond actors.

However, Idris might ask for a change in the character’s personality, since 007 has always been known as a misogynistic kind of man. He might want to make the character classier and more respectful if he steps into Daniel Craig’s proverbial shoes.

Idris’ receipt of the medallion on Friday may assure that Hollywood will listen to his requests. As an Officer of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire, Idris Elba’s James Bond could spark a new trend in classier role casting.

[Feature image via John Phillips / Getty Images]