Idris Elba And Naomi Harris Attend White House Screening Of ‘Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom’

The Academy Of Motion Picture Arts And Sciences Hosts An Official Academy Members Screening Of Mandela: Long Walk To Freedom

Idris Elba and Naomi Harris attended a screening for their award-winning film ‘Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom’ for President Obama at the White House. Elba shared his excitement in bringing the president the film since they were already fans of one another’s work, plus he knew President Obama was a fan of Nelson Mandela. Director Justin Chadwick recalled the president greeting Elba warmly with a big hug.

The film chronicled Nelson Mandela’s life from childhood to becoming the first democratically elected president of South Africa. It was a huge project that Director Justin Chadwick turned down at first, but after realizing that he could make the movie intimate and show the world a different side of Mandela, decided to take the challenge.

Chadwick explained how Mandela loved cars and how 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 the heart of it was a love story.” The love story centers on Mandela and his wife, Winnie Mandela, played by Naomi Harris.

A big stamp of approval, though, came from Mandela’s family. Elba called himself an “honorary Mandela” and said Mandela’s daughter, Zindzi Mandela, calls him dad. However, he was still nervous about showing the film to a South African audience for the first time.

The 37-year-old actress shared how both actors were nervous about taking on their iconic roles; however, they were happy with the Mandela Family’s reaction. “You know what means the most to us?” said Harris. “We took the film to South Africa and it premiered there and people were really moved by it. Winnie and her daughters cried and they just said, ‘That’s exactly how it was. You faithfully portrayed us.’ That’s all you want, really. For me, they were the critics I was most concerned about.”

(Photo by Donald Bowers/Getty Images for Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences)