Idris Elba Reveals His Reservations On Playing Nelson Mandela

Movies & TV

Actors Idris Elba and Naomie Harris sat down with VIBE’s film correspondent Milan Carter to talk about their new film Mandela: A Walk To Freedom. Both actors agreed on the biopic’s powerful message but also shared concerns when it came to actually taking on the roles of Nelson and Winnie Mandela.

“I had no idea who Winnie was when I signed up to do this movie,” said Harris. “I thought she was just Nelson Mandela’s wife and I thought I was signing up to do a movie about Nelson Mandela. I had no idea she was a political activist in her own right and how integral she was to the Anti-Apartheid movement. It was a huge education for me and I was really, really terrified of taking it on.” While Naomie’s concerns were based on whether or not she could emotionally fulfill her role, Idris’ concerns were more physical.

“It was on honor to be asked to play the guy but, at first I said “no,” recalls the British actor. “I don’t look like Mandela. Who me? C’mon man.”

Watch the video above to learn who Elba thought should play Mandela in Mandela: A Walk To Freedom, and how he quickly overcame the reservations about his appearance. Mandela: A Walk To Freedom hits theaters on Nov. 29.