As the world mourns the loss of a hero, there is one man can actually say he knows what it is like to be Nelson Mandela. Actor Idris Elba who played Mandela in the biopic film "Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom", talked about the role which was published by the Associated Press on December 5 just before the death of Mandela.
Elba, known for his role as Stringer Bell in the HBO series "The Wire", had to embrace the harsh realities of Mandela's life to become Mandela in the film. He understood his passion, his strength, his pain and eventually his freedom as a man who became a powerful figure in the anti-apartheid movement. Elba not only portrayed the peacemaker, he was able to bring out the fiery and flawed side of the man who became South Africa's first black president.
Director Justin Chadwick applauded Elba's vision of Mandela:
"There are not many people who would step into the shoes of Mandela, particularly the way I was making the movie. There was no room for any untruth. When you are standing in front of thousands of people portraying their leader that they know so well you'd better be on it, and Idris was on it."
He adapted mannerisms from his own father to help him make his version of Mandela believable. He also spoke to a couple of Mandela's daughters and his second wife, Winnie Mandela, who was also a monumental figure in the anti-apartheid movement.
Although Denzel Washington was the first choice for the role, it seemed natural that it feel in Elba's laps. He took the opportunity and became Nelson Mandela, but he did have a battle presented to him by his own confidence.
"I was like, 'Damn, do I have this performance in me? Everyone knows what Mandela looks like and sounds like and I'm not like any of that. It was a massive challenge, but it was time to grow up and really put my acting chops out there."
Idris Elba turned in a masterful performance and as he learned about the death of Mandela on December with, he offered the following words:
"What an honor it was to step into the shoes of Nelson Mandela and portray a man who defied odds, brown down barriers, and championed human rights before the eyes of the world. My thoughts and prayers are with his family."