Belfast Telegraph

Monday 2 March 2015

Elba: Mandela is a big challenge

Idris Elba plays Nelson Mandela on the big screen
Idris Elba plays Nelson Mandela on the big screen

Idris Elba has admitted that playing Nelson Mandela has been the "biggest challenge" of his life.

The Luther star portrays the former South African leader in Justin Chadwick's Mandela: Long Walk To Freedom, which also stars Naomie Harris as his screen wife Winnie.

"The role was definitely the biggest challenge of my life. I look and sound nothing like the man, but hopefully I've pulled it off," he said.

"To call the prospect of playing Nelson Mandela intimidating would be to put it lightly. But it's a massive honour to play this saint amongst men."

Idris admitted he had initial doubts about signing on for the highly sought after role, but changed his mind after hearing that the former South African president was a fan of his previous show The Wire.

"I was honestly confused about why they came to me. I thought, 'You can't be serious! You chose me out of everyone you could have gone to?'," he recalled.

"Then I found out that Nelson Mandela was into The Wire. I thought, 'It's amazing - he might have kicked back and watched The Wire box set!'."

Mandela: Long Walk To Freedom, based on Mandela's 1994 autobiography of the same name, is set to premiere at the 2013 Toronto International Film Festival in September before being released in the UK in January 2014.

:: The third series of Luther and the box set featuring all three seasons will be available on DVD from July 29.

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