Idris Elba on portraying Nelson Mandela in Long Walk to Freedom

British actor Idris Elba may be best known in the HBO series The Wire and plays South African anti-apartheid icon Nelson Mandela in his first biopic. Elba, 40, talked about portraying Mandela and how music features into his career.

Question: You play Nelson Mandela #nelsonmandela in the upcoming film Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom #longwalktofreedom. What did the role mean to you and did you meet Mandela when preparing?

Answer: It meant so much to me, it's such a massive opportunity to be part of a true legend's life, and more importantly, the film re-educates people on this legend.

I never met Mandela because he was very ill, so our interpretation of him was without his personal influence. But the script is so good, and it comes from his book, and the book speaks for itself.

Did you feel any pressure playing Mandela?

This is the first real biopic I've done, and there's no real difference in the process, but it's Mr Mandela. So that's huge, everyone knows who he is and what he sounds like, and I look nothing like him.

If I get judged, which I will, about my performance or how I sound or how I look, I think people miss the point. The point is that this is called Long Walk to Freedom," this is the book about his life and it's his own words.

How do you want people to remember Mandela from the film?

That he's a man. He's a human being. I think we forget that; that he is human.

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