Portraying Nelson Mandela in a motion picture has been a badge of honor among some of Hollywood’s elite actors in recent years.
In 2009, moviegoers saw Morgan Freeman playing the influential leader during his first term as South Africa’s president in Clint Eastwood’s “Invictus,” not to mention Terrence Howard and Idris Elba’s much talked about portrayals in “Winnie” and “Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom.”
Helming such an iconic role is a “massive honor,” according to Elba who opened up about the project to London newspaper, “The Independent.”
"To call the prospect of playing Nelson Mandela intimidating would be to put it lightly. But it's a massive honor to play this saint amongst men,” the former “Wire” star confessed. “I was honestly confused about why they came to me. I thought, 'You can't be serious! You chose me out of everyone you could have gone to?' Then I found out that Nelson Mandela was into The Wire.”
“I thought, 'It's amazing – he might have kicked back and watched the Wire box set!' The role was definitely the biggest challenge of my life. I look and sound nothing like the man – but hopefully I've pulled it off."
In memory of Nelson Mandela’s legacy, we decided to highlight reactions to his passing from various public figures (below), in addition to a video montage (above) featuring films that were based on the charismatic leader.
(Video montage edited by: Samuel Wilkes)
A great hero of our time @NelsonMandela has transitioned, leaving an indelible mark for the potential of greatness in all of us.
— Deepak Chopra (@DeepakChopra) December 5, 2013
A true fighter in every sense of the word... MANDELA!
— QTip (@QtipTheAbstract) December 5, 2013
Bishop T.D. Jakes’ Statement:
"I am deeply saddened to have lost such an enduring symbol of freedom and liberty; Nelson Mandela was an elder statesman who embodied the very essence of a servant-leader. History cannot contain the lasting impact of such an extraordinary life. Rather, his exceptionalism will live in the hearts and minds of those of us who were fortunate enough to have witnessed his greatness. There are few words capable of encapsulating the measure of such a masterful life, except to impart this departing dispatch: 'Well done Madiba, well done!"
Tom Joyner’s Statement:
“I’m blessed and honored to have lived in an era when so many great men and women have walked this earth. They are people who have taken risks, and sacrificed everything, sometimes their basic comforts, sometimes their families and sometimes their lives for the greater good. I don’t know what makes one person upset about injustice and another so outraged that they make it their life’s mission to right a wrong.
Dr. Martin Luther King, a young preacher who couldn’t tolerate racial and economic injustice, Fannie Lou Hamer, a share cropper who fought her way from the fields of Mississippi to the Democratic National convention in Atlantic City to testify about black people being denied to their right to vote.
Then there is President Mandela whose stance against apartheid sent him to prison for 27 years. He survived that, was released and led his nation in a battle to fight human rights abuse, poverty, poor health conditions, and the epidemic of HIV/AIDS.
From the moment I saw him back in the mid 90s, I knew I was in the presence of real greatness and I knew that the day was coming when I would be paying this kind of tribute to him. I had no idea it would be almost 20 years later. I’m amazed that a man who had been through so much and in such inhumane conditions could still have so much left to give to humanity. But he had work to do, and he didn’t stop until he couldn’t do anymore…”