The long-awaited biopic “Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom” has opened in South Africa.
British actor Idris Elba, who stars as Mandela, almost did not make it to the red carpet after being rushed to hospital in London suffering from an asthma attack. He turned up just in time to be embraced by Mandela’s ex-wife Winnie, who attended the premiere.
Elba spoke with emotion about working under the direction of British filmmaker Justin Chadwick and about his fellow actors: “This story is so much bigger than me, than any of us, and when we were given the task of bringing this story to life it was under the guidance of Justin and Anant (Singh, the movie’s producer). But I’ll tell you now, as long as I’ve worked as an actor, I’ve never worked with a more committed set of actors. In true spirits, these are my comrades, for real,” said Elba.
The film is based on the former South African president’s autobiography of the same name. It chronicles his early life, his struggle against white minority rule and his 27 years in prison before becoming head of state. As president, Mandela oversaw huge social change in South Africa, based on truth and reconciliation.
Nelson Mandela’s ex-wife, Winnie Madikizela Mandela, said: “We should remember where we come from and that this freedom was hard earned, and that it was won at a very, very heavy price.”
British actress Naomie Harris plays Mandela’s wife Winnie in the movie, a performance for which she has earned high praise.
She said it was one of the biggest challenges of her career: “Even after filming I still felt like she (Winnie) was still haunting me, because I did so much research to get into that character. You really have to find a way of deeply connecting withher. And it’s not like when you play a fantasy character, an imagined character.” she said.
“This is a real, living icon for many people. She
polarizes people in terms of their opinion about her, butfor many people, she is Mother Africa.
You have to honour that,” added Harris.
“Mandela: Long Walk To Freedom” is out in the US this month and across Europe from December.