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Actor Idris Elba, who starred in “The Wire,” has all the makings of a killer James Bond, which would explain the persistent public campaign to urge the filmmakers behind the long-running spy franchise to pass the torch to him after Daniel Craig’s tenure as 007 ends.

Let’s review: Elba’s a sophisticated, impossibly handsome, widely respected actor with the kind of genre-crossing appeal that would allow him to slip into Bond’s slick suits and back out again without becoming locked into that role for the duration of his career. The man did play Nelson Mandela, after all. Also, he’s British.

However, recently credentialed James Bond series author Anthony Horowitz tossed a big, racially problematic wrench into the works with his comment, published in Saturday’s Daily Mail, that he thought Elba would be “too street” to play the legendary agent in future films.

That remark didn’t go over very well. On Tuesday, The Guardian noted the fallout, as well as Horowitz’s resulting mea culpa:

The author, who has written “continuation” Bond novels, including the latest Trigger Mortis, and said Lester would be a more “suave” Bond, explained his use of the word “street” to describe Elba.

“Clumsily, I chose the word ‘street’ as Elba’s gritty portrayal of DCI John Luther was in my mind but I admit it was a poor choice of word. I am mortified to have caused offence.”

Many commentators had expressed anger at Horowitz’s choice of words, including the influential American writer Ta-Nehisi Coates, who tweeted: “Just be honest and say ‘James Bond’s being white is important to me’ and be done with it … Elba is ‘too street’ in much the same way that Obama was ‘too foreign,’ and King was ‘too communist.’”

Read Horowitz’s statement, helpfully submitted on his Twitter feed, here.

–Posted by Kasia Anderson

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