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In the Nathan Heller-penned piece, Elba opened up about starring in Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom as the late, revered South African leader Nelson Mandela. The Justin Chadwick-directed biopic follows Elba, as “Madiba,” from his early life, marriage to Winnie (played by Skyfall‘s Naomie Harris) and his 27 years in prison before becoming his country’s first elected black president in 1994.
Elba shared how he has been told he has presence and is charismatic, but the actor said: “But I’m not Nelson Mandela.” He continued, “Everybody has a sense of who Mandela is–his nobleness, his white hair, his voice. Those were big shoes to fill.”
According to director Chadwick, Elba channeled the great South African president with keen observations. “I’m a real worm for detail, and Idris is the same,” Chadwick, who invited local South African residents to visit the film’s set, told Vogue. “He soaked up conversation with people who knew Mandela well.”
The role of playing Mandela held close to Elba as he revealed that “Madiba” reminded him a lot of his dad, who died in September. The British actor described his father as “very charismatic and always smiling. Everyone liked to talk him.”
The fashion bible also taught us a fun fact: When Elba isn’t busy on the big screen, he’s also a rapper and club DJ. His latest music project? Finishing the cut for the first two tracks of his first full-length album, Mi Mandela.
Vogue‘s January 2014 issue, covered by Blue Jasmine actress Cate Blanchett, will be available at newsstands on Dec. 23.
Read the full story on vogue.com.
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