Nelson Mandela death: What the actors thought of the icon they portrayed

From Idris Elba to Morgan Freeman, we look back at the actors who played Mandela - and their thoughts on the anti-apartheid icon

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The Independent Culture

Playing Nelson Mandela has proved the greatest feat in the careers of the actors who have been cast as the great leader.

While much has been spoken about Idris Elba’s portrayal of Mandela in the forthcoming film Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom, he joins one of eight actors to have played the South African leader.

Click here to see what the actors said about playing Mandela

The late Mandela named Morgan Freeman as the actor he would most like to play him in a film about his life in a press conference in 1994.

But Freeman, like his contemporaries, feared his portrayal would not do justice to the anti-Apartheid icon.“The danger, of course, is always caricature,” he said.

David Harewood, Terrence Howard, Danny Glover, Dennis Haysbert, Sidney Poitier, Clarke Peters and Idris Elba have voiced similar concerns.

Speaking about playing the late president, Elba said earlier this year: “To call the prospect of playing Nelson Mandela intimidating would be to put it lightly.”

At the premiere of A Long Walk to Freedom last night, when news broke of Mandela’s death, he said it had been an “honour” to portray the freedom fighter.

The Luther star was reportedly in tears as news of Mandela’s death broke at the premiere at the Odeon Leicester Square.