The Nelson Mandela biopic Long Walk to Freedom, which has been in development for many years, seems to be moving forward with Idris Elba set to play the role of Nelson Mandela and Naomie Harris (Skyfall, “Pirates of the Caribbean”) in talks to play the role of his wife Winnie Mandela. Director Justin Chadwick of The Other Boleyn Girl and the award-winning The First Grader (also starring Harris) is in talks to direct.
According to Screen Daily, crews are being put together to start the production in South Africa this May after producer Anant Singh of Distant Horizons spent years trying to get the project going. Morgan Freeman was originally attached to play Mandela in the film but then he moved over to Clint Eastwood’s Invictus, while other directors including Tom Hooper and Shekhar Kapur came and went.
Based on a script by William Nicholson (Gladiator), one of the biggest difference with this movie, which has been sanctioned by Mandela himself, and Invictus is that it will cover the entire life and political career of Nelson Mandela including the 18 years he spent on Robben Island while in captivity.
This would be the third film about the South African president following Darrell Roodt’s recent and yet-to-be released biopic Winnie, starring Jennifer Hudson and Terrence Howard, which premiered at the Toronto International Film Festival in 2011.