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Idris Elba and Morgan Freeman lead film world tributes to Nelson Mandela


Story by Jack Foley

IDRIS Elba and Morgan Freeman have led the tributes to the late Nelson Mandela, having both played the South African leader on the big screen.

Elba, who most recently played the civil rights leader in the forthcoming biopic Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom, had been attending the Royal Film Performance in London on Thursday night (December 4, 2013) when news of Mandela’s passing, at the age of 95, broke.

In a statement, the British actor said: “What an honour it was to step into the shoes of Nelson Mandela and portray a man who defied odds, broke down barriers, and championed human rights before the eyes of the world. My thoughts and prayers are with his family.

“I am stunned at this very moment, in mourning with the rest of the world and Madiba’s family. We have lost one of the greatest human beings to have walked this earth, I only feel honoured to be associated with him. He is in a better place now.”

Morgan Freeman, who paid Mandela in the Clint Eastwood directed Invictus, said of the news: “Today the world lost one of the true giants of the past century. Nelson Mandela was a man of incomparable honour, unconquerable strength, and unyielding resolve – a saint to many, a hero to all who treasure liberty, freedom and the dignity of humankind.

“As we remember his triumphs, let us, in his memory, not just reflect on how far we’ve come, but on how far we have to go. Madiba may no longer be with us, but his journey continues on with me and with all of us.”

Dennis Haysbert, who also played Mandela in the 2007 drama Goodbye Bafana, also paid tribute by saying: “Portraying Nelson Mandela, in the film Goodbye Bafana was a defining moment in my life and my career.

“We as a society, have been blessed to live in a time that Nelson Mandela has lived, loved, and led. What he has done for his country, his countrymen, and everyone on this planet may not be achieved again… ever. I will always honour him as a saint.”

Further tributes are still being issued by members of the global filmmaking community.

The Weinstein Company co-chairman Harvey Weinstein said in a statement: “One of the privileges of making movies is having the opportunity to immortalize those who have made a profound impact on humanity.

“We count ourselves unspeakably fortunate to have been immersed in Nelson Mandela’s story and legacy. It’s been an honor to have been granted such proximity to a man who will go down as one of history’s greatest freedom fighters and advocates for justice.

“I have had the privilege of spending time with President Mandela and I can say his sense of humor was as great as his optimism. We are deeply saddened by his loss; our hearts go out to his family and the entire South African nation.”

And Long Walk to Freedom producer Anant Singh added in a separate statement: “We have lost our father, an exceptional human being, a hero to the world. There has never been anyone quite like him and there will never be. We should be inspired by his life and celebrate him with our love.We will all miss him dearly. Our love, thoughts and prayers are with Mama Winnie, Mrs Machel, Zenani, Zindzi, Maki and the entire Mandela Family during this difficult time.”

Singer and songwriter Paul Simon said in his own statement: “Mandela was one of the great leaders and teachers of the 20th century. He conceived a model for mortal enemies to overcome their hatred and find a way through compassion to rebuild a nation based on truth, justice and the power of forgiveness. His passing should reignite a worldwide effort for peace.”

Related story: Prince William pays tribute at Royal Film Gala