Belfast Telegraph

Friday 26 December 2014

Mandela film screens in Toronto

Idris Elba and Naomie Harris star in Mandela: Long Walk To Freedom
Idris Elba and Naomie Harris star in Mandela: Long Walk To Freedom

Idris Elba has revealed he "plugged into" the energy of Nelson Mandela when it came to playing him on the big screen.

The Wire star portrays the South African leader in Mandela: Long Walk To Freedom, which has premiered at the Toronto International Film Festival.

He said: "I certainly just plugged into the energy of Mandela and the way people respect him.

"There was no messing about with this character and this story."

While the brawny Idris, famed for his gangster Stringer Bell on The Wire, has a much larger frame than Mandela, director Justin Chadwick said he was "the brave choice" for the role.

"We're not going for a looky-likey, soundy-likey version of Mandela," he said. "We're trying to catch the spirit."

The 95-year-old Mandela wasn't involved in the production or able to meet with Idris due to ill health. However producer Anant Singh said he showed scenes last year to Mandela on an iPad. When he saw Idris in character, Mandela asked: "Is that me?"

Idris' performance in the movie has also seen him honoured at The Hollywood Reporter's inaugural Breakthrough In Film Awards.

His co-star Naomie Harris, who plays Mandela's wife Winnie, was also honoured at the awards, which have been created to celebrate talent making a strong impression at the festival.

The Hollywood Reporter's executive editor Matthew Belloni said the pair "made a breakthrough impression" with their performances.

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