Will the next James Bond be played by an actor of color? That debate on Chris Cuomo’s NewsNation show “Cuomo” Friday went completely off the rails when The Nation’s Elie Mystal went head to head with conservative commentator Scottie Nell Hughes.
Cuomo had pulled the duo who are on opposites of the political spectrum together to discuss a new report from Britain’s News Channel that, according to an industry insider, “the next James Bond won’t be white.” Ariel in the Disney remake “The Little Mermaid” was also mentioned as a white character who had been recast as nonwhite.
“And I thought that was a little bit more of an odd fit,” Cuomo went on. “But if you were going to play to the global palette, wouldn’t he, and if it’s for America, wouldn’t he be Latino? And if it’s for the world market, wouldn’t he probably come from Bollywood? I mean, why is there this expectation that he has to be a Black actor?”
“I don’t think there’s an expectation that he has to be a Black actor. The idea is that he has been white for six iterations and there is no problem in opening it up to other people,” Mystal responded. “The idea that you’ve just suggested that anybody who plays him is doomed to fail either tells me that you have not watched the Timothy Dalton James Bonds or that you did not watch ‘No Time to Die,’ the last James Bond, which was horrible, or you have not watched the amazing performances given by people like Regé-Jean Page… He has perfect diction. Like what? The idea that anybody Black is doomed to fail is the definition of why it’s about time somebody Black was James Bond. Just to prove you wrong.”
Hughes jumped in: “You’re totally misrepresenting what I said. I didn’t say anybody Black. I said anybody! And I’m an originalist. I like Sean Connery. I said, anybody. And we are only talking about Black characters. We’re not talking about any of the other actors to take this place. And every character that’s been replaced has been Black. So there’s a reason why people are saying that it’s going to be a Black person that is going to replace him.”
And that’s when the back-and-forth spat began, as the volumes went up and they started to talk over each other to drive home their points.
“Every character who has been replaced, has been Black like in global history?” Mystal said.
“Have you seen a Hispanic replace a white person in one of the recent films?” Hughes asked.
She answered, “What recent film are you talking about? Of course, we have so much more opportunities given to Hispanic actors… But once the I just saw Kenobi, which had one of its key persons be an AAPI actor like this is happening…”
Hughes cut her off. “But this is the placement of old original characters on diversity. It’s not diverse. It’s only one sector that is getting it…”
“Is the argument that there aren’t enough opportunities for white people in Hollywood?” Mystal asked pointedly. “Is that what you’re going with?”
Seeing that this debate was going downhill fast, Cuomo tried to calm them and finally decided to end it altogether. “I appreciate the points on both sides,” he said. “You’ve given plenty for the audience to chew on and let’s let them do that.”
Watch the video above.