Since it’s clear that Daniel Craig (the sixth actor to officially play Bond since 1962) has one foot out the door of the Aston-Martin, the conversation about diversifying 007 has been happening in earnest. Is one of Hollywood’s oldest properties ready for a reboot? A new survey, conducted by Morning Consult and the Hollywood Reporter, asked 2,201 U.S. adults how they would feel about the fictional spy shifting demographics: from British to American, from male to female, from straight to gay, or from Caucasian to another ethnicity. The results show that a narrow majority support a black James Bond and most approve of a U.S.-born Bond — but the idea of a female, Hispanic, Asian or gay Bond is still hard for most Americans to wrap their heads around.
According to the data, 49 percent of American adults support the idea of a black actor playing Bond. When asked specifically if fan favorite (and 2018’s Sexiest Man Alive) Idris Elba should play the character, 36 percent of men and 43 percent of women surveyed said, “Yes, please!”
But what about making the character a different ethnicity? Perhaps without someone as obvious as Elba in mind, the participants were more tepid about a Hispanic Bond (19 percent of adults strongly support this casting) or an Asian Bond (17 percent of adults strongly support the change).
There has also been a lot of discussion in film circles about the possibility of a female Bond. Franchise producer Barbara Broccoli recently said she’s against it, and survey participants seem to agree. The idea of Bond being played by a woman received the strong support of 19 percent of men, and surprisingly, only 20 percent of women. However, there is a significant generation gap in this response: Millennials are more likely to approve of a 007 gender swap compared with older generations.
The idea that received the least support was making James Bond gay, with only 15 percent strongly in favor. The survey question is a little confusing, since it doesn’t specify whether they’re talking about Bond being played by a gay actor (which wouldn’t necessarily change the character) or Bond becoming gay (which would be a substantial change for the notorious womanizer). It’s also worth noting that Craig’s Bond hinted at bisexuality in Skyfall, which didn’t stop it from becoming the highest-grossing Bond movie ever.
Finally, survey participants were asked whether James Bond could be a U.S. citizen — which would arguably be an even bigger change to the character than making him gay since his legend is based in England and his entire identity is connected to MI6. (Again, this is presumably the Bond character, not the actor.) 32 percent of those polled said they’d be on board with an American Bond. In fact, several American actors have been in consideration to play Bond over the decades, including James Brolin, who screen-tested with his own accent.
Another survey result to consider: Of the 2,000-plus Americans polled, 21 percent have never seen a Bond film, despite hearing of the film series.
The 25th James Bond film is now in production. After the departure of original director Danny Boyle, True Detective‘s Cary Joji Fukunaga has been announced as the first American to direct a Bond film.
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