Idris Elba: Being cast as the Gunslinger means we’re in a ‘colorless society’

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Here is the new cover of Entertainment Weekly, a preview of Comic-Con and some advance information on The Dark Tower, the latest Stephen King film adaptation. I covered some of the first photos from the set of The Dark Tower a few weeks ago – they were some really badass pics of Idris Elba in his full Gunslinger costume. I’m also including some photos of Idris Elba filming The Dark Tower in New York over the past few weeks. Paparazzi have been getting a lot of photos from the set, because it looks like they’re using real-world New York locations. Anyway, EW has released part of their interview with Idris and he seems really proud of the fact that he landed this part, the hero, and he has a lot of feelings about his character. EW also asks him about playing a character that was written as a white man. You can read the full piece here. Some highlights:

Idris on his character, Roland Deschain: “When we meet Roland he’s a bit lost. He’s been walking around for a long time, so he definitely feels like a man who’s… coiled…There’s a mystical element to him. He’s about 200 years old. He’s been around for a long time, and has a deep-rooted connection with the [supernatural] nature of the film. Roland’s completely tuned into that. When you meet him, he’s very much a stoic man, doesn’t want to talk. But when you get to know him, he really knows quite a bit about the world and his world’s history. And he very much knows the way The Man in Black works. He’s so clued up on that, which is what frustrates him. Because he can’t catch him.”

Getting a role which was written as a white character: “I was thrilled. I was thrilled to get this job. I was thrilled because, you know, it’s an alternative to what you could say, what Roland is described as…. A white guy in a sense, but, also just that you could make a version of this film that appealed to a slightly more action-hero type character and I don’t do those films. I haven’t done many actions films. I like to bring a little depth and bring a real character… It’s an iconic character. I want to get it right.”

Whether race-swapping a character should be a big deal: “It’s better just to treat it like no big deal. There should be no difference. The character that was written in Stephen’s imagination, it could be any color. It just happens to be me and, you know? In the artwork, it just so happens to be a white guy, but I don’t think that makes any difference. … I think what’s great about it, if I want to say anything about it, is that it is a sign of the times in terms of a colorless society. People go, ‘A good actor is a good actor,’ you know?”

[From EW]

The term “colorless society” bugs me at this point, because it usually comes out of the mouths of white people who are saying something racially insensitive. Like, “It’s okay for me to say this because we live in a colorless society, right?” No. It’s interesting to hear it coming from Idris Elba, who has been very choosy – I daresay “conservative” – about how he discusses race in film and television. Which is weird, because Idris has been victim of some of the most insidious racism in the past few years. But yes, I’m glad Idris is playing this role and I’m glad his casting is being seen as no big deal.

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Photos courtesy of Fame/Flynet.

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48 Responses to “Idris Elba: Being cast as the Gunslinger means we’re in a ‘colorless society’”

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  1. byland says:

    I agree about the your “colorless society” views, Kaiser. We very clearly DO NOT live in a colorless society. See: Donald Trump’s campaign against any and all brown people. The End. Colorblind casting is encouraging, but just as Barack Obama’s election did not eradicate racism, neither will “traditionally” white characters being played by actors of color. The struggle shall be eternal, I’m afraid.

    On a more superficial note, he may be a mess of a person, but my goodness is he not just the most attractive of attractive men. Wowza.

    And look at him with his cute little guy. So adorable.

    • Nicole says:

      Exactly we definitely don’t. The climate in the UK and US should be proof of that. I loathe when people say they don’t see color is the biggest load of BS ever.

    • Jess says:

      Ditto on all of that. And now I’m just going to go stare at pics of him. Yummy.

  2. tifzlan says:

    Oh, baby…. no…. :(

    You’re still the love of my life but just, no no no no no.

  3. ikrena says:

    Not really what he said though is it?
    He said it’s sign of the times which I read as we are getting somewhere, and definitely not that we are already there.
    And my gosh he’s hot.

    • Cricket says:

      This is also how I understood it as well. I just adore Idris and he will forever be Luther for me. I just love that show and can not imagine anyone else playing that part. He and Ruth Wilson – we need more of them together!!!

      I wold watch anything Idris is in – just like him as an actor that much.. not many of those around anymore sadly.

    • Down and Out says:

      I read it that way, too. He wasn’t saying that we live in a colorless society, but that it’s what we’re trying to move towards.

    • Bridget says:

      I agree. Not that we actually live in a colorless society, but that he recognizes what a huge deal it is that he’s in a role that was initially imagined as a Clint Eastwood, and what a huge step that is.

  4. burnsie says:

    I’m a HUGE fan of the Dark Tower series, and I can’t believe they’re finally filming it!!!! 😁Roland Deschain was originally based on Clint Eastwood, and I’m proud of the powers that be for casting Idris, but no this definitely does not mean racism is over or that society is colorblind

  5. Crox says:

    I think casting choices become “colourless” only when the black actor has a big enough name. For example Will Smith will get a role over almost any white actor and Idris over many too. But if the actors are on the same level (of fame), people of colour will have a huge disadvantage.

    • lucy2 says:

      That’s kind of what I was thinking too – while I think it’s great the production cast him, it’s not a huge risk to cast an actor who is VERY popular and successful, and who people are always clamoring for more of. I think he’s saying it’s a step in the right direction though, not claiming it equals a colorless society, as the post headline suggests.

      I don’t want to diminish the good aspects of him being cast in a previously white role, but it’s kind of like saying because Meryl Streep works constantly, Hollywood is doing great with roles for women 40+.

    • Jayna says:

      He is not as big as Will was when he began getting all of those roles. I imagine there were plenty of white actors more famous than Idris who probably would have liked this role, but they gave the job to Idris. Idris is on his way to becoming one the top actors around to be chosen for roles. It will be exciting to see what the future holds for him. He deserves it.

  6. Bxhal says:

    Oh my goodness, where’s the LOVE button when you need it? What a beautiful man, what a beautiful moment, what a time to be alive. At a time when all is coming through is bad news in the world, you turn to entertainment for escapism and something entertaining and at the same time history making is happening – this is why i love entertainment. This world is a microcosm of society. Just as when MJ premiered Billie Jean on Mtv and we still talk abt it now, because it was a frontrow view of the world evolving. Im so proud and happy for my bae Idris but even more so i hope more roles will be colorblind and persons of color will not have stereotype castings. Might i add that the pic of Idris carrying that cute little boy makes me wanna have ten kids…with my bae Idris? Xox.

  7. Trixie says:

    I’m digging the costume.

  8. Mia V. says:

    James Bond was also written as a white character and.isn’t Idris campaining for it? This would make this “colorless society” remark makes sense, cause in no other way it works.

    • lilacflowers says:

      Idris isn’t campaigning for it. Fans and the media have pushed him forward as their choice and plenty of people have weighed in on the topic and interviewers have asked him about it but he’s not actually campaigning. People who have said they want it and are campaigning: Damian Lewis, Gillian Anderson, Archie Punjabi, and Priyanka Chopra. Yes, three women want to be Bond.

    • Cricket says:

      I think Idris would make an excellent James Bond! After reading though that one of the reasons Daniel Craig is leaving (aside from him not wanting to do it anymore) was his age that he looked too old and I think Idris is around the same age. Although, I think Idris is like a fine wine that seems to look better every year :)

  9. lilacflowers says:

    A colorless society? If only, Idris.

    Those pictures are making me melt. But we’re going to need the ball gag again.

    • Sixer says:

      I’m afraid we are in need of the ball gag. Luckily, I have plenty.

      He did a BBC breakfast news interview and was asked about #blacklivesmatter. It was painful, the prevarication. He was about a millimetre from saying #alllivesmatter. You know I love Idris but I just sat there and cringed. If it had been reported on here, he would have been crucified.

      I get it that some of them don’t want to get themselves involved in political/social issues – worries about career, worries about being ill-informed, even holding opinions some of us might well not like.

      But I really think they would all be better off just putting an interview rider in. Cos prevaricating and kumbaya-ing just makes everything worse.

  10. DiamondGirl says:

    I think his point is that an actor has been cast based on being the best choice for the role, when the role has nothing to do with color.

    Black actors should not be cast only in films that are about being black, but in any role that they fit.

    There are so many characters in books-made-into-movies that don’t have to be white- that’s where the “colorless” part can be a huge opportunity.

    • Cricket says:

      I agree with our point but I think this also should not be limited to just black actors.. for example, I remember hearing when Lucy Liu was cast as Watson for Elementary and everyone was like huh? A woman? And an Asian woman at that and I think she rocks that role. It gives it a totally different perceptive than the Watson from Sherlock with Cumby. I love Lucy in this role and it was totally thinking outside the so called ‘box’.

      • DiamondGirl says:

        Exactly – perfect example. The same when Judi Dench was M in the Bond movies. “But in the books it’s a man!” So what!!!!

  11. Shelly says:

    Definitely not! I’m exhausted already.. He’ll figure it out once he is “Denzeled”

    • SusanneToo says:

      Speaking of Denzel, he is playing the Yul Brynner role in The Magnificent Seven remake. Looks great in that black outfit.

  12. The Eternal Side-Eye says:

    Nah boo, but damn does he look hot.

    We don’t live in a colorless society.

    Things are not fair and balance.

    Racism is vicious and cruel and will sneak up and pounce when you least expect it.

    But this is a nice step in the right direction and I am appreciating the view, yum.

  13. Justjj says:

    He’s so hot. Heavens. And his kid is adorable. That is interesting that he’s been so conservative when it comes to race. I feel like a lot of actors tow that line though, it’s probably hard to know what you can say and you might be wary of that one ‘incendiary’ statement that may or may not hurt your career.

  14. Catherine says:

    Wait! He doesn’t do action movies?? With that hot body? He’s naturally just in that kind of shape. ALL THE TIME?! I have a lot to think about…..❤️

    • Lauren II says:

      Idris is beautiful in so many ways.
      He never intends to offend anyone, and i do not care to debate about his comments. Just enjoy Idris in all his gunslinger glory and calm down.
      Love the pic with his son too.

  15. Kardashian Defector says:

    No, Idris. It DOES NOT MEAN WE LIVE IN A COLORLESS SOCIETY. It means you are the man of the hour. That’s all. Talking like that in the wake of all these very obvious signs of extreme systematic racism all over the world shows me that you are not thinking about the world as a whole, which, as a father, you should be…. And you sound very selfish. Don’ let hollywood eat your brain.

  16. Ayra. says:

    Is that so Idris? Really now?
    Well then, any suggestions for a replacement for Idris?

  17. Joy says:

    I don’t think he was implying that the whole world doesn’t see color. But by all means let’s take one little snippet and drag him for filth.

  18. tami says:

    Finally a black man acknowledging the progress instead of focusing on what we still need to work on. True hope and change!

    • Snowflake says:

      I don’t understand your comment. Who is going to point out what we need to work on, if not a black man? White people dont know about the racism that still exists, they dont receive it

    • Snarknado says:

      I agree. Considering this character had a specific description & interaction with other characters, I found this to be an interesting – almost forced? – choice. A step in the right direction, sure. But, would we use a white actor to portray a black character? Heavens, no! (Except in “Tropic Thunder”, lol)

  19. Colette says:

    Nothing to do with Idris but who in the Hell wants to live in a colorless or colorblind world? To me that would be like planting a flower garden with only one type/color of flower.Almost nothing upsets me more than someone saying to me I don’t see color.

  20. Abbess Tansy says:

    Sorry bae but very slowly we might get closer someday. I don’t want to live in a color-blind society, I want society to be
    color-receptive. In the meantime, his maker did a good job ’cause this man is so very fine.

  21. Dlo says:

    I know nothing about this gentleman, but did read the gunslinger series. He is perfect! Omg when I saw pics of him in character I jumped for joy!

  22. Gswiftblade says:

    The Bond comments by the author were taken WAY out of context. Idris DOES have a reputation for being “street” in the U.K. because he came from working class roots and most of his early roles were “street”. In the SAME interview, the author name checks an array of other black men who would make a good Bond.

    • Anastasiia says:

      I have never seen his street roles. So he is very classy to me, naturally classy. Like he was born royal

  23. Nadjo says:

    I love him…but he must have forgot about how people went apes**t when he played Heimdall in Thor.

  24. Jay (the Canadian one) says:

    Heimdall, James Bond (in theory at one point), The Gunslinger… Not sure it’s a colourless society but rather that Idris in particular has earned some sort of exemption to the usual bias.

  25. lisa2 says:

    I don’t want to live in a “Colorless society”.. as a woman of color my blackness is a characteristic of who I am.. Like my height, weight, color of my eyes, length of my hair.
    The goal of any society is not to become “colorless” it is to not allow a characteristic/trait to used to solely define a person and discriminate against them because of it. I don’t want anyone looking at me to claim they don’t see that I am black. Just don’t let that keep you from treating me with the respect I deserve. That we all deserve.

  26. Anastasiia says:

    He is so talanted, handsome, hardworking, that he can get ANY role. Bond is for him, for sure. And not just because we have reached the point, where men of color can be seen in this role. It’s because he is simply the best candidate. Pure Bond: posh, sexy, strong, smart.

  27. Beer&Crumpets says:

    I read it like he meant that we’re *trying to* or are *supposed to be* moving towards a colorless society, not that we’re there right now. Him being cast as Roland is pretty cool, I think. I mean, Roland is supposed to be a white guy, but Elba is gonna Roland the living shit out of Roland. I just know it… I feel it. He is everything I had imagined Roland would be and Elba not being a white guy doesn’t even matter a bit.

    I’m a huge fan of the books and King in general. The *only* thing that sucks out for me is that for years and in every book, King made a big deal about Roland’s faded blue eyes that I wonder if Elba shouldn’t go ahead and slap some contacts in. Does that make me a bad person?