The world’s most successful film franchise is the EON Productions series about British secret agent James Bond. Rumors are that Idris Elba will be next to play Bond, but nothing official confirms or denies this. Daniel Craig plays Bond in Spectre, the 24th official film in the series, currently in production and due in theatres November, 2015. Let’s look at some of the Black actors, actresses, and musical artists who are a major part of the ongoing film legacy of MI-6 agent 007. These are not all African Americans, because many Blacks in Bond films are either British or Jamaican. There are many others, and we just don’t have space to list them all.
Top 10 Black artists (actors, actresses, singers) in James Bond films (alphabetically)
Shirley Bassey, singer of Goldfinger (1964), Diamonds Are Forever (1971), and Moonraker (1979)—the most iconic singer, whose title track Goldfinger sold over a million copies in 1965.
Halle Berry in Die Another Day (2002) as Jinx Johnson alongside Pierce Brosnan’s Bond, trailed a North Korean terrorist and tried to kill agent 007. But they ended up lovers.
Julius W. Harris in Live and Let Die (1973) as Tee Hee, right hand man of Dr. Kananga/Mr. Big, got his nickname from his wicked laugh.
Naomie Harris in Skyfall (2012) joined 007 Daniel Craig as rookie field agent Eve, and became assistant to the new M. Her last name places her in the iconic role of Moneypenny.
Gloria Hendry in Live and Let Die (1973) as Rosie Carver opposite Roger Moore’s Bond. This Afro-clad Bond girl alerted 007 about voodoo warnings, got romantic with Bond, and trapped him before her death.
Grace Jones in A View to a Kill (1985) as Mayday, the most outrageous Bond woman in the franchise. She skydived from the Eiffel Tower and stopped a planned earthquake.
Yaphet Kotto in Live and Let Die (1973) had dual roles: Dr. Kananga was ambassador of the small island nation San Monique, while Mr. Big destroyed lives with his drug empire in New York City.
Colin Salmon in Tomorrow Never Dies (1997), The World Is Not Enough (1999) and Die Another Day (2002) opposite Pierce Brosnan’s 007, the tall, suave and handsome Englishman Charles Robinson was Dame Judi Dench’s M’s right hand man.
Tina Turner singer of Golden Eye (1995) supplied sexy, cool vocals for title track penned by Bono of U2, a top five hit in Europe.
Jeffrey Wright in Casino Royale (2006) and Quantum of Solace (2008) was CIA agent Felix Leiter opposite Daniel Craig’s 007. Bond’s closest confidante in eight previous James Bond films, Leiter was played by seven other different actors if we include Bernie Casey.
Honorable Mention: Bernie Casey in Never Say Never Again (1983) was Felix Leiter opposite Sean Connery as James Bond—not one of the ‘official’ EON Productions films, like the 1967 version of Casino Royale.