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Girls & Women

6 Heroic Humans Who Should Definitely Play James Bond


Why Global Citizens Should Care
James Bond is a character that stretches back through history and culture, with every incarnation often reflecting a new view of masculinity specific to each generation. But are we trying hard enough to bring the man into the 21st century? Take action now for gender equality around the world.

Queen Elizabeth II pauses for a moment, rests her pencil, and acknowledges a rather handsome gentleman garbed in a sharp black tuxedo who just strode into the room.

“Good evening, Mr Bond,” she says, rising to meet him.

What happens next is etched permanently into public consciousness: a short walk with the prized royal Corgis, a flight over Westminster in a Union Jack helicopter, and a tandem skydive out of said helicopter into a screaming Olympic Stadium.

It was a moment that genuinely thrilled a nation previously gripped by the cynicism that, well, the 2012 Olympics were probably going to be a bit rubbish. Fast forward six years and a handful of referendums later, and the world is different — but James Bond still stands, dashing and unkillable.

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But Ian Fleming’s character is due another regeneration. Daniel Craig just turned 50, and his fifth and final portrayal is set for release in October 2019. It will be directed by none other than Danny Boyle, the 2012 Olympics artistic director who threw Craig out of that iconic helicopter in the first place.

Now, it’s rumoured that Idris Elba might become the first black actor to play the secret agent — and it has shaken and stirred the pot like mentos in coke. Famous Bond movie producer Barbara Broccoli said “it is time” for a non-white actor to take the role, while others moaned that the spy who literally went undercover as a Japanese man in You Only Live Twice shouldn’t stray too far from his marble white roots.

But the Idris Elba rumours are still, sadly, just rumours. So while the rotating sushi bar of suggested white male actors twists on, we’ve come up with a few more ideas.

1. Lily Allen

Once upon a time, women in Britain weren’t allowed to be writers, voters, or doctors.

Now, Jane Austen, who famously wrote under a pseudonym to disguise her gender, is on the £10 note; suffragette Millicent Fawcett has become the first woman to be honoured with a statue in London’s Parliament Square; and Jodie Whittaker will soon debut as the first female Doctor Who.

If a galaxy-hopping refugee alien can be a woman, why not a fictional spy? And if Pierce Brosnan can go from Die Another Day to Mamma Mia, surely Lily Allen can go from pop star to superspy?

The Mercury Prize-nominated singer was vilified in the British press for showing empathy to refugees in Calais — an issue Daniel Craig has previously described as a “human tragedy” we must “get sorted."

Allen was one of the first people to volunteer on the ground after the Grenfell Tower tragedy too. Perhaps a better way to help save lives than cars, bars, and poker?

She could write the theme tune, sing the theme tune, and maybe even kickstart a narrative that serial misogynists like 007 shouldn’t be the face of Hollywood.

“Role models should be people that you know,” she told the New Statesman. “Like your mum.”

The name’s Allen. Lily Allen.

2. Akala

A white man travels around the world, blows things up, and is a bit of a racist (to put it mildly). But is this James Bond — or the history of British colonialism?

One man that knows a thing or two about the difference is rapper, poet, and historian Akala.

James Bond talks with the violent tongue of British history: he takes what he wants, and rarely takes no for an answer. And Akala — an independent artist who has just finished his book Natives: Race and Class in the Ruins of Empire — observed such behaviour back on the rise years before the rest of us.

“We’ve seen desperate, naked, almost 18th century colonialism returning – particularly with what happened in Libya,” Akala, now 34, said to Reuters in 2015. “And to me that shows signs of weakness, signs of desperation.”

“We’re seeing 1950s-style language coming back, you know, referring to desperate people, whose desperation we have partly created, as ‘swarms’ and things of this nature,” he added. “So I think that kind of nakedness, and that ugliness, is a sign and recognition that there are challenges.”

3. Will Smith

Aliens! Will Smith is racing through space with Jeff Goldblum after blowing up the alien mothership with a nuclear weapon.

Robots! Will Smith throws himself into the core of a supercomputer to inject nanites that will ultimately defeat a swiftly approaching robot army.

Education! Will Smith soars out of helicopter above the Grand Canyon on his 50th birthday to raise money for children trapped in crisis zones who cannot go to school… Wait, what?

Smith and Bond have been busy saving the planet for decades — but the actor has been fighting for change in the real world too. In partnership with Global Citizen, Smith will invite a fan to watch him bungee jump and hang out with his family to help the 75 million children living in conflict zones without education.

Kids without school? Hell, no.

4. Harry Leslie-Smith

Idris Elba, 45, has previously said he feels “too old” to play Bond.

But is there such a thing? Roger Moore was 57 in A View to a Kill — and Arnold Schwarzenegger, 71, just refuses to stop making movies (despite the best efforts of Rotten Tomatoes).

Therefore I volunteer 95-year-old Harry Leslie-Smith as tribute.

The activist and writer is no stranger to action: he served in the Royal Air Force (RAF) during the Second World War, and fended off noisy critics after writing a viral article in 2013 arguing against Remembrance poppies — because he felt they justified existing conflicts.

Read More: Paddington Bear Is a Perfect Model for How to Treat Refugees

And, like Bond, Leslie-Smith has put his life on the line to serve a higher mission: in his case, the refugee crisis.

“Harry’s Last Stand Refugee Tour” will send Leslie-Smith to camps all over the world to document the crisis and amplify the stories of some of the world’s most vulnerable people — and he realises that he might not finish the journey.

“There is a good chance because of my age that I will die on my travels, but I am not worried about my end,” he wrote on his Go Fund Me page. “I am more worried about the end of a world that believes that all human beings have a right to peace and prosperity, not just the entitled few.”

5. Riz Ahmed

The British-Pakistani actor, artist, and activist has campaigned to help Syrian children, lectured the House of Commons on diversity and extremism, rapped on the Hamilton Mixtape, and, amongst other writing, contributed an essay to The Good Immigrant, a collection about race and immigration in the UK.

Ahmed was voted the fourth most influential Asian in Britain — the highest non-politician on the list — and, above all, was totally awesome in Star Wars: Rogue One.

Now, Ahmed actually could be the first Muslim to play Bond, and already relishes the idea of breaking the internet.

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“Any stretching the mould of what our traditional archetypes are appeals to me,” Ahmed told GQ as the cover star of its September issue. “So, yes, those classic stories, be it a superhero or James Bond. I don’t want to speculate but I think they’re great films. Bond keeps evolving.”

“It’s not changing fast enough,” he added. “People go, ‘Well there aren’t the people around.’ It’s not true! They’re just not on the traditional conveyor belt.”

6. Ed Miliband

Let’s all forget about politics for a fleeting moment — and unite behind the idea of the former Labour leader dusting off his leather jacket and motorbike one last time.

Ed Mili-Bond: just imagine the gadgets.