Idris Elba has seen his star rise for a while now, but even he was daunted at the prospect of portraying Nelson Mandela.
This week sees the release of Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom, starring Idris Elba as the South African leader. Elba’s star has been steadily rising since he played DCI John Luther in the eponymous crime series, with key parts in both Thor movies, as well as 2012’s Prometheus and this year’s Pacific Rim. While we’ve seen him mostly in fantasy and sci-fi recently, it is in this Mandela biopic that Elba will truly come into his own, on the big screen at least.
Elba has his rituals to help him stay grounded.
Despite his consistent rise to fame, however, Elba knows how to stay grounded (rather literally), as he explains for USA Today: "I hug trees. I've got a tree tattooed on my arm. My daughter (Isan, 11) and I, every New Year's if we're together, we go out at the stroke of midnight and we go sit by a tree and have a picnic and chat. It's really good for highlighting that that was then and this is now."
It seems to be working, as Elba sounds remarkably modest throughout the interview, especially when discussing the topic of fame. "I was just sitting with Oprah Winfrey, who has been a landmark, a pinnacle for success. If you sit with Oprah Winfrey, you've made it," he says. "My mum believes that. It's been surreal to have this attention thrown at me. It's a massive honor."
Naomie Harris plays Mandela's wife, Winnie.
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