Acclaimed actor David Oyelowo will soon one of the few black actors to play James Bond — in audiobook form at least. The Guardian reports that the English actor has been tapped to play 007 in Trigger Mortis, the next official book in the series.
Oyelowo received a personal invitation from the estate of Ian Fleming, the author of the original Bond spy novels, and claimed he was "very honored" at the opportunity, telling The Guardian, "I am officially the only person on planet Earth who can legitimately say: ‘I am the new James Bond.’" The actor is only the most recent black actor to fill the role. Britsh actor Hugh Quarshie played Bond in 2012 in the audiobook version of Dr. No.
"I can legitimately say, 'I am the new James Bond.'"
While audiences today may best know him for his Golden Globe-nominated portrayal of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. in Selma, Oyelowo has already won considerable esteem for his acting prowess. In 2001, he became the first black actor to play an English king in the Royal Shakespeare Company's Henry VI trilogy, earning high praise for his performance.
As for who will play the next Bond on the big screen, that's still up in the air. While current 007 star Daniel Craig expressed a willingness to vacate the role last year, Sony reportedly confirmed with the actor that he would stay on through at least 2020, leaving room for one more film after Spectre debuts in theaters this fall. But by tapping a well-regarded black actor for the role in book form, the Fleming estate may be testing the waters for how audiences might receive a Bond who isn't white. In other words, consider this one small step in the journey toward giving Idris Elba the license to kill.
Correction 12:30pm ET: An earlier version of this article stated David Oyelowo would be the first black actor to play James Bond in audiobook form. That was incorrect. Hugh Quarshie, another black actor, portrayed 007 in 2012 in the audiobook version of Dr. No. We've updated the headline and article to reflect the error.