'I could be a Bond baddie': Shah Rukh Khan says he has not given up on Hollywood dream

Bollywood star believes AI could help crossover into mainstream cinema, but playing 007 is off the table

Shah Rukh Khan talked about his Bollywood success and Hollywood dreams at the World Governments Summit in Dubai. Chris Whiteoak / The National
Powered by automated translation

After a blockbuster year with three record Bollywood box office smashes under his belt, Indian star Shah Rukh Khan says his burning ambition to break into mainstream cinema is as strong as ever.

At the World Governments Summit in Dubai – a city he calls a second home – the actor and producer known as SRK took a swipe at Hollywood for failing to offer him any notable roles in his 33-year career.

But, since passing up the opportunity to play the quiz show host in Danny Boyle’s 2008 hit Slumdog Millionaire, Khan said he had received few offers of work in US or UK cinema.

I want to end my career by making that film which is loved by the whole world - then nobody will ask why I haven't I crossed over into Hollywood
Shah Rukh Khan

While one of the biggest roles of all – the next James Bond – may be out of his reach, he might be suitable for more villainous character, he said.

“I really wanted to [be the next James Bond], but I think I'm too short,” said Khan, who is 1.69 metres tall.

“But of course, as a baddie – I’m brown enough.

After a series of cinematic flops and a four-year break from the industry, SRK enjoyed a resurgent 2023.

Releasing three films in 12 months – Pathaan, Jawan and Dunki – that accumulated $330 million at the box office, he was catapulted back into mainstream focus.

“I've said this honestly, but nobody believes it – nobody’s ever offered me any crossover work of substance,” said Khan.

“I had conversations with people from the English and American film industries, but nobody's offered me any good work.

“I've never been offered [a role] in Hollywood or in England.

“Yes, Slumdog was there and I spent a lot of time with Mr Boyle. He's very sweet. But I was doing, Who Wants to be a Millionaire? on television successfully at that time.

“I just felt, in the [Slumdog] story that was being told, the guy who was hosting was very mean, he was cheating and dishonest. I found that strange, so I explained to Mr Boyle that I wouldn't like to do it.”

Determination

Khan has not let those disappointments stop him, and puts his drive down to some tough early life lessons.

“Perseverance happens to some people, you don't have any option. I lost my parents very early and then you realise there's no rewinding or coming back from death. You have to continue to make the most of what you have.

“I was a youngish orphan and had to work my way through. It could be the nature of the beast that with dogged determination you keep on working.”

Such is SRK's gravitas, this week his office had to deny rumours of his involvement in negotiations to release former Indian Navy personnel held in Qatar on espionage charges.

As a result, SRK was trending on X for much of Monday, as the eight veterans were freed after intervention from Indian authorities.

Khan believes technology could offer an alternative path into mainstream cinema as AI becomes more widely used.

“When I started off, I just wanted to survive to be able to get a week's work or a month's work or a year's work and say my films should do well,” he said, speaking in Dubai.

“As the years have gone past, my whole job has become more motivated towards bringing new technology into the Indian film industry,"

Now he is looking to continue working for three more decades.

"I have another good 35 years to go, but I want to end my career by making that film which is loved by the whole world.

“Then nobody will ask why I haven't I crossed over into Hollywood.”

Updated: February 14, 2024, 11:28 AM