Even with so much public recognition, taking on an icon like Nelson Mandela was a daunting task for the actor. Not just emotionally, but physically, the part presented a challenge. As Elba explains in the interview: “I had a lot of reservations about it. Whoever plays Mandela has to do such a great job. He's a real man. It's a lot of responsibility — he's a living legend. And I don't look like him. What are you saying, that all black people look the same?”

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His co-star, Naomie Harris, who plays Mandela’s wife Winnie in the film, disagrees. "By the end of the movie, he really does look like him. He totally captured him. I went to the apartheid museum and I was like, 'Wow, he got him.' There's a connection there. He really managed to capture his essence and tune into him and transmit him."

Earlier in November, Long Walk to Freedom was screened at a private event for Nelson Mandela himself, who reportedly enjoyed the retelling of his own story. Whether moviegoers will share that opinion remains to be seen when the film premieres across the US on November 29.

Idris Elba, Long Walk To Freedom PosterNaomie Harris, Mandela: Long Walk To Freedom Poster
The biopic is out in theatres later this week.