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Idris Elba portrays Nelson Mandela in the new film Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom, based on the late South African leader's autobiography — an experience that he found quite emotionally affecting.
When Elba was in Toronto during the Toronto International Film Festival in September, he talked to George about spending an evening in the same jail where Mandela was held.
"The sacrifice. I really connected to the sacrifice," Elba said. "I've been telling people what I did, when I went to South Africa, what I did is immediately I went to Robben Island [prison] and asked if I could stay there. And I persisted and eventually they said I could stay in a cell, for one night, on the wing that Mandela [was held in].... I couldn't stay in his cell, but I could stay one of the nights. And I was in that cell all night and it was when I realized, 'This is the sacrifice that he made.' After all the activism chants have gone and the flags have gone, there is this man in this room and his liberty has been taken away."
Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom
Videovision Entertainment, Distant Horizon, Origin Pictures, The Weinstein Company
Robben Island Prison - Reuters RTRT4OV
Mandela in Robben Island Prison - Reuters RTXFGSC
Mandela - Reuters RTRP1WF