'Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom' Star Naomie Harris on Portraying Winnie (Exclusive Video)
"The thing I struggled with was her bitterness and her hatred because her journey forced her to have those things," Harris says of playing the iconic character.
In Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom, Idris Elba takes on the role of Nelson Mandela, the iconic South African civil rights leader who spent 27 years in prison before becoming president and leading the once-segregated country toward healing.
The film also focuses on Mandela's wife, Winnie Madikizela-Mandela, and her own struggles as her husband spent decades in jail. Naomie Harris portrays Winnie in the film, which opened in theaters in limited release on Nov. 27.
In a new featurette, debuting exclusively here at The Hollywood Reporter, Harris, Elba and director Justin Chadwick speak on the journey of Winnie Mandela that is chronicled in the film.
"She's victimized and harassed a lot by the police, and those experiences really forced her to reinvent herself, in a way, into this warrior woman," says Harris.
"The Winnie that we're showing isn't this kind of caricature that's been portrayed before," says Chadwick. "It needed an actor who was not afraid to scratch underneath there."
Harris, who most recently starred in James Bond pic Skyfall, said that she had to imagine what it was like for Winnie Mandela to be told, "You can't sit there, you can't get on that bus" to understand what she went through.
"The thing I struggled with was her bitterness and her hatred because her journey forced her to have those things," she says.
Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom is the latest awards contender from The Weinstein Co., and continues its expansion in theaters nationwide in the coming weeks.
Watch the exclusive featurette above.