Nov. 04 - Stars Idris Elba and Naomie Harris attend the premiere of ''Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom,'' based on the autobiography of anti-apartheid icon Nelson Mandela. Matthew Stock reports.
The man playing Nelson Mandela in a new movie embraces the real-life former wife of the anti-apartheid hero. Winnie Madikizela-Mandela was among the family and friends of Nelson Mandela who gathered for the Johannesburg premiere of a new biopic of his life. It was an event made all the more poignant as South Africa's 95-year-old former leader remains critically ill at his nearby home. British actor Idris Elba nearly didn't make it to the film's debut... after being rushed to hospital suffering from a severe asthma attack. But he arrived just in time, and spoke of taking on such a daunting task playing such an iconic figure. (SOUNDBITE) (English) BRITISH ACTOR, IDRIS ELBA, SAYING: "If Mr. Madiba can stay in a jail cell for 19 years and they continue to still fight for his country. You know, I can stand here on the red carpet, no problem." Naomie Harris plays Mandela's former wife, a role she found hard to let go of. (SOUNDBITE) (English) ACTRESS NAOMIE HARRIS SAYING: "It was very tough. I would say it is the most challenging role that I have ever played. And I. I think it took me six months to come out of Winnie, because for six months I felt, even after filming I still felt that she was still haunting me. Cause I did so much research to get into that character. The movie, "Mandela, Long Walk to Freedom", largely based on his autobiography of the same title, traces Mandela's life from his childhood, through his imprisonment on Robben Island, to his election as the country's first black president in 1994.