Fans wanted a Black Agent 007, and their wish was granted. Sorta.
The estate of Bond’s late creator, Ian Fleming, chose Oyelowo for the novel written by Andrew Horowitz, The Guardian reports. The British actor earned worldwide acclaim for his role as Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. in Selma but his portrayals as traditionally white characters raked in the hate mail.
After his role as the first black King Henry IV in a Royal Shakespeare Company production, a critic sent a letter to Oyelowo that read, “How dare you enter a realm that is not yours to enter?”
Regardless of skin color, Horowitz thought Oyelowo was a perfect choice for Trigger Mortis. “What an honor to have an actor as talented as David to read my take on Bond,” the author said. “He has a brilliant voice and talent for bringing out the nuances of dialogue and characters.”
Oyelowo follows in Hugh Quarshie’s footsteps. The Star Wars and Highlander actor served as the first black Bond for the audiobook Dr. No in 2012. Coincidentally, the Ghanaian Brit’s latest role at the Royal Shakespeare Company created a similar stir. He plays the titular African protagonist in Othello alongside the first black Iago in the company, played by Lucian Msamati.
As for the first black on-screen portrayal of James Bond, the wait continues. Daniel Craig currently holds the role but fans have pushed for Idris Elba, who addressed the rumors this past April. “Honestly, it’s a rumor that’s really starting to eat itself,” the 42-year-old actor said. “If there was ever any chance of me getting Bond, it’s gone.”