1 January 2010 7:42 AM, PST | The Guardian - Film News | See recent The Guardian - Film News news »

Portraying Nelson Mandela has defeated many actors, but not Morgan Freeman. The star of Invictus tells Bill Keller about shadowing – and embodying – the South African leader

Morgan Freeman has been cast as God – twice – so he evidently has no trouble projecting moral authority. The challenge of portraying Nelson Mandela, then, was not the size of the halo, but knowing the performance would be measured against the real, familiar Mandela, and his myth. "If we can say any part of acting is hard, then playing someone who is living and everybody knows would be the hardest," Freeman says.

The role has defeated actors as varied as Danny Glover (in the 1987 TV film Mandela), Sidney Poitier (Mandela and de Klerk, 1997, also for TV) and Dennis Haysbert (Goodbye Bafana, 2007), in vehicles that were reverential and mostly forgettable. But as someone who studied Mandela over the course of three years while he replaced an »

- John Carlin

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