Is it sacrilege to even ask the question? Well, let’s break it down, going from easiest to most difficult.
Does 007 need to be British?
Most definitely so – as in a British actor must play the intrepid spy. Sure, any fine American actor can affect the British accent and mannerism – look at Renee Zellweger’s performance in Bridget Jones’s Diary. But she was playing a British character, not representing all of Great Britain, which is what James Bond embodies. And with all the speculation going on right now about who will be the next Bond, there is certainly any number of British actors who could effortlessly slide into the role. Remember when Kevin Costner played ROBIN HOOD and sounded more like Robin of Sherman Oaks than Robin of Sherwood Forest? Let’s avoid that again.
Next, does James needs to be white?
Er, Not really. It was a White Man’s World when Ian Fleming wrote his Bond novels in the 1950s and that was still the case when Sean Connery burst onto the big screen as 007 in the first Bond movie, DR. NO, in 1963. So, times change. 007 fans will take some time to adjust to a new Bond – not because he isn’t white, but because he isn’t Daniel Craig, who did such a fine job of re-defining Bond for the new millennium. Also, consider the performance of Halle Berry as Jinx in DIE ANOTHER DAY, where a woman of color showed herself as Bond’s equal and could easily take his place (see below).
And finally, does Bond need to be a man?
If Bond is not a man, then he’s not James Bond, right? This doesn’t mean we cannot make space for a female counterpart. Just look at what happened when James met his match in Pussy Galore – she made GOLDFINGER the gold standard of Bond movies and that was still when it was a White Man’s World (see above).
In fact, Lashana Lynch, the actress playing a female version of 007 in the new Bond film, NO TIME TO DIE, is already creating that space. So if James Bond is to be a woman, then who will be the very first ‘Bond Boy’? Times Change Indeed.