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December 13, 2013
Star Entertainment


Idris Elba initially refused to play Mandela

This photo released by The Weinstein Company shows Idris Elba, as Nelson Mandela. - File

Idris Elba put the phone down on his agent when he was asked to play Nelson Mandela.

The 41-year-old actor was so worried about being cast as South Africa's first black president in the biopic Mandela: Long Walk To Freedom, he refused to consider the idea and he even tried to pass the role onto Morgan Freeman - who played Mandela in the 2009 film Invictus.

Speaking in the January issue of Reader's Digest magazine, he said: "You know, I was really, really sensitive [about the role]. My agent called up to ask if I wanted to play Mandela and I put the phone down on him. I was like, no way. Mandela? Couldn't do it.

"You're asking me to play Mandela, do you think I'm going to play a fing Disney Mandela? Don't ask me to do that yeah? Then I thought to myself, called him back and said, 'Can I be honest? If it's a grey-haired version of the fist-pumping Mandela, I'm not the actor to bring in. I'm not Morgan, go with Morgan."

Idris - who plays a younger version of Mandela showing his struggle as a younger man against apartheid rule in South Africa - is being tipped for an Oscar for Best Actor for his portrayal of the late Nelson Mandela, who died aged 95 last Thursday, following prolonged lung problems.

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