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Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom is the long-gestating feature project about the famous South African leader Nelson Mandela and his wife, Winnie, each who played significant roles in their country’s revolution against apartheid. Boasting the biggest budget for a film to come from South Africa, the film (as directed by Justin Chadwick), features spirited embodiments from Idris Elba and Naomie Harris (playing Nelson and Winnie, respectively) in its life-encompassing presentation of their heroic efforts.
I sat down with Chadwick in an exclusive interview to discuss the film, its strength in extras, his disinterest in making the film “spinach,” and more.
Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom opened in Chicago on December 25.
Read our review of ‘Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom’
You’ve said previously »
- Nick Allen
Chicago – When South African freedom fighter Nelson Mandela died on December 5th, there was a sense in the media that yes, he was a “great man,” but how he affected social change seemed lost in platitudes. Director Justin Chadwick fills in those gaps in his film adaptation of “Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom.”
Chadwick, and Mandela’s daughters, were at the London premiere of the film when they got the word that the great man had passed. There was speculation with the production company and distributor that the film release might be rescheduled. As Chadwick describes below, it was the children of Nelson Mandela that insisted that the film debut should go on, because of the stellar portrayal of Mandela – by actor Idris Elba – and the precise storytelling of his life by Justin Chadwick.
Photo credit: The Weinstein Company »
- email@example.com (Adam Fendelman)
Editor's note: The Hollywood Reporter spoke with Justin Chadwick before Nelson Mandela's death. A former actor who has cut his teeth on high-end U.K. television shows such as Bleak House, starring Gillian Anderson and Carey Mulligan and highly-acclaimed spy thriller Spooks, Justin Chadwick made his feature debut in 2008 with The Other Boleyn Girl, a costume drama boasting Natalie Portman, Eric Bana and Scarlett Johansson among its stars. Just over a year later, Chadwick shot The First Grader in Kenya, a film that proved the filmmaker's metal for making movies in Africa. Photos: Nelson Mandela and Apartheid:
- Stuart Kemp
Naomie Harris became a global star as the Bond girl in Skyfall, but her biggest challenge yet has been playing the controversial figure of Nelson Mandela's wife in the new biopic. Luckily, she says, her co-star was Idris Elba…
The first time I met Naomie Harris was in 2010 in a noisy cafe in Portobello Road, London. I thought then that she was the sort of girl you would have wanted to make your best friend if you had met her at school: warm, talkative, not at all puffed up and not dressed up either. I don't remember what she wore but it wasn't aiming to be memorable. The cafe was noisy so she suggested we talk in her nearby flat. She was best known then for her role in Pirates of the Caribbean and for television dramas (Clara in White Teeth, Hortense in Small Island). She was about to pull into the fast lane, »
- Kate Kellaway
South African producer Anant Singh's 20-year struggle to realize "Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom" has been compared with Richard Attenborough's lengthy quest to make "Gandhi." Their biographies are similar: Both chart the revolutionary course of an iconic political figure after being schooled as a lawyer, only to campaign for freedom against a "colonial" government, with a message of peaceful political reform. Singh has produced several anti-Apartheid films over the last 30 years, including "Place of Weeping," "Sarafina!" and "Cry, The Beloved Country." Nelson Mandela himself called him "a producer I respect very much…a man of tremendous ability" when he granted him the film rights to his autobiography, "Long Walk to Freedom." Together with "Sarafina!" screenwriter William Nicholson, best known for "Gladiator," and "The First Grader" director Justin Chadwick, Singh has willed a grand and sprawling adaptation of "Long Walk to Freedom" to life. Raising the $35 million in »
- Stephen Aspeling
It was a long time coming—22 years, to be exact—for biopic “Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom” to be released, but the film finally made its L.A. premiere Nov. 11 at the Arclight Cinerama Dome.
The film stars Idris Elba as Nelson Mandela and chronicles the leader’s life from childhood to becoming the first democratically elected president of South Africa. It was such a huge project that director Justin Chadwick turned it down at first, but after realizing that he could make the movie intimate and show the world a different side of Mandela, he decided to take it on.
“He was a fighter, a boxer,” he explained. “He loved cars, he loved women. He was flawed, and that just made him all the more extraordinary and what he did was all the more extraordinary. The backstory is the hundred-year history that his life represents of apartheid, but at »
- Alex Stedman
In late 2011, after winning several literary awards and garnering global acclaim for its clever originality, South African author Lauren Beukes' science-fiction novel, Zoo City, saw its film rights awarded to producer Helena Spring (Red Dust, Yesterday, The First Grader), a fellow South African. 2 years later, in an interview with Smart Monkey TV, published yesterday, Donovan Marsh, whose South African crime drama iNumber Number was just optioned by Universal Pictures for a Hollywood remake, reveals that he's attached to write and direct the film adaptation of Zoo City. Zoo City's story revolves around a character named Zinzi December, a black South African woman. »
- Emmanuel Akitobi
Every Labor Day weekend, cinephiles journey out to a small town nestled in a remote corner of southwest Colorado’s San Juan mountain range for the Telluride Film Festival. Production staff are hard at work building state-of-the-art theaters for more than a month before the event and readying for a sudden influx of dedicated filmgoers. Veteran pass holders, staff, and volunteers make the trip largely out of faith in the festival’s superb programming that’s famously kept completely secret up until the day before it begins. The shroud of mystery, the breathtaking scenery of a box canyon and the fact that there are no press lines, competitions, or paparazzi lend a sanctified awe to this complete cinematic immersion. Venturing deep into uncharted storytelling territory with old or new friends make the cost of getting out here and the intensive labor involved with putting it all together worth it each and every time. »
- Lane Scarberry
Inspiring and heart-warming are words that will easily be pegged to the description of The First Grader. The story of an 84 year old Kenyan man enrolling in primary school is, after all, the sort of feel-good thing you expect to hear after all the bad news has been dispensed with, the sort of story that puts a smile on your face and helps you forget about all that terribly depressing stuff until the next news bulletin. With a solid performance from Oliver Litondo, a former TV news anchor, playing Kimani Maruge, the illiterate old man on a quest for education; an earnest performance from Naomie Harris as Teacher Jane, ardent champion of Maruge’s cause; and a school full »
- Wendy Okoi-Obuli
The first trailer for Justin Chadwick's "Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom" has landed, starring Idris Elba in the title role as the former South African president and anti-apartheid revolutionary. Naomie Harris ("Skyfall") also stars as Mandela's wife of 39 years, Winnie. The Weinstein Company snapped up the title back in February. An Oscar-friendly release date is set for November 29. The film is based on Mandela's autobiography of the same title, adapted by Oscar-nominated scribe William Nicholson ("Les Miserables," "Gladiator"). Director Chadwick has previously helmed "The First Grader" and "The Other Boleyn Girl." Meanwhile, a rival biopic is also set to hit theaters this fall: "Winnie Mandela," starring Jennifer Hudson in the title role, with Terrence Howard playing Nelson Mandela. »
- Beth Hanna
The handsome British actor is front and centre in Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom, which follows Mandela as a younger man when he was, as the first full trailer tells us, public enemy #1 and feared by the government leading up to his arrest and imprisonment as he fought for freedom, racial equality and human rights for South Africans of colour.
The biopic is directed by Justin Chadwick (The Other Boleyn Girl, The First Grader) and co-stars Naomie Harris (Skyfall) as Mandela's second wife Winnie Mandela, a social worker and political activist in her own right who tells Nelson: "I heard you had a lot of girlfriends. I'm different."
Watch the first trailer for this Oscar shoe-in right now. »
- Andrea Miller
Listen, we know you have to sell this intense drama about the struggle to end apartheid to a mass audience. But can we call a moratorium on using "Wavin' Flag" by K'naan for...well, anything...for about a decade? The official song for the 2010 World Cup (yes, which was held in South Africa, hence relevance) has been played to death and lost any innocence and impact it had. At least for now. Okay, with that off our chest, here's the new trailer for "Mandela: Long Walk To Freedom." As you know, Idris Elba goes from the fake apocalypse of "Pacific Rim" to the very real story of the freedom fighter who fought an entire system and way of thinking to bring justice to his land and people. It really is a remarkable tale, but this first trailer makes it look like Biopic 101, with Justin Chadwick ("The First Grader," "The Other Boleyn Girl »
- Kevin Jagernauth
Coming on the heels of the 94 year-old apartheid leader’s hospitalization earlier this month, the teaser trailer for “Mandela: Long Walk To Freedom” is short on content but big on emotion and respect for the man’s ideals.
There’s only one scene of actual footage, literally evoking the film’s metaphorical title with a long-shot of elderly Mandela walking along a sun-set field with children flagging behind him. What tugs the heart-strings is the stirring narration by actor Idris Elba, who portrays the former South African president, giving voice to Mandela’s ethos: “People learn to hate; they can be taught to love, for love comes more naturally to the human heart.”
For Elba, who’s got Pacific Rim opening now and the small-screen Luther returning for its third season, playing Mandela represents a well-deserved prominence that will likely garner awards season buzz. It will be interesting to see »
- Nathan Bartlebaugh
Starting today in theaters worldwide you can see Idris Elba fight off alien monsters in "Pacific Rim." While that film is unlikely to snag him any awards come Fall, his next project, the Nelson Mandela biopic "Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom," is -- should it go over well. Based on Mandela's autobiography of the same name and directed by Justin Chadwick ("The First Grader"), the drama stars Elba as the titular political activist and Bond's new Moneypenny, Naomie Harris, as his ex-wife Winnie Mandela. From the looks of the just-released teaser, the British Elba has nailed down the tricky South Africa accent. How his performance stacks up is still in question. Thoughts? The Weinstein Company opens "Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom" November 29th. http://movies.uk.msn.com/trailers-and-clips?videoid=7f8fb7ed-739c-41f8-abb6-c05205ca9ec7&src=v5:..">http://movies.uk.msn.com/trailers-and-clips?videoid »
- Nigel M Smith
- Sasha Stone
The Nelson Mandela biopic Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom has found an American distributor in The Weinstein Company. Directed by Justin Chadwick (The Other Boleyn Girl), the film stars Idris Elba (Luther) as Mandela and Naomie Harris (Skyfall) as his wife Winnie.
The film is based on Mandela’s autobiography of the same name, which covers his early life to his political ascendance. Producer Anant Singh had been trying to get the film made for years. Earlier in the film’s life, Les Miserables director Tom Hooper was attached to the project. He’d gone so far as to meet »
- Lindsey Bahr
The Oscars are in just over for 48 hours, but man, they feel so yesterday already, amirite? So let's start looking ahead to next year, and one can't ignore the news and start speculating when someone like Harvey Weinstein snaps up a movie about Nelson Mandela. The Weinstein Company has picked up the rights to "Mandela: Long Walk To Freedom," the biopic with none other than the eternally awesome Idris Elba in the lead role. Justin Chadwick ("The First Grader") directs with Naomie Harris co-starring as Winnie, with the film said by Elba last year to cover Mandela's "early life, coming of age, education and 27 years in prison…" It's a powerful story indeed, though previous attempts to chronicle the South African leader's life (or parts of it) haven't had quite the lasting impact. Actors ranging from Danny Glover ("Mandela"), Dennis Haysbert ("Goodbye Bafana") and Terrence Howard »
- Kevin Jagernauth
The Weinstein Company and Anant Singh announced today the acquisition, by TWC, of the North American, Australian and New Zealand distribution rights to the film of Nelson Mandela's life based on his autobiography Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom. The film is directed by Justin Chadwick (The First Grader, The Other Boleyn Girl) and produced by Anant Singh.
Singh began communicating with Mandela about making a film based on his life while he was still in prison and acquired the film rights to Mandela's book at the time of its publication in 1996 and development on the film began immediately when Academy Award Nominee, writer William Nicholson (Les Miserables, Gladiator, Shadowlands) signed on. The completion of Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom sees the culmination of Singh's most ambitious project to date.
On awarding the film rights to Singh, Mandela had this to say.
"Anant Singh is a producer I respect very much. »
The Weinstein Company has acquired all North American, Australian and New Zealand distribution rights to the Nelson Mandela biopic "Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom." The film stars Idris Elba ("Prometheus," "The Wire") in the title role of the former South African president and anti-apartheid revolutionary, and Naomie Harris ("Skyfall") as Mandela's wife of 39 years, Winnie. Tony Kgoroge, Riaad Moosa, Zolani Mkiva, Jamie Bartlett, Lindiwe Matshikiza, Deon Lotz and Terry Pheto co-star. The film is based on Mandela's autobiography of the same title, and is directed by Justin Chadwick ("The First Grader," "The Other Boleyn Girl"). Producer Anant Singh started communications with Mandela about a film based on his life while he was still in prison, and acquired film rights to the book at the time of its 1996 publication. The long-gestating project eventually signed Oscar nominee William Nicholson ("Les »
- Beth Hanna
Political activist and former President of South Africa Nelson Mandela has been portrayed a handful of times in cinema over the past few decades, most notably by Sidney Poitier, Dennis Haysbert, and the ever-serene Morgan Freeman. Next to take that mantle is British actor Idris Elba, who will hopefully bring to the role the simmering strength of his Stringer Bell character from HBO.s The Wire. But Elba won.t have to worry about slinging the film on urban street corners, as Deadline reports the Weinstein Co. has acquired the rights to the adaptation of Mandela.s autobiography Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom. The film is directed by Justin Chadwick (The Other Boleyn Girl, The First Grader) from a script written by Academy Award nominee William Nicholson (Les Miserables, Gladiator). The project is the result of many years of hard work, as producer Anant Singh first contacted Mandela about adapting »
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