Naomie Harris Interview: ‘winnie Mandela Terrified Me’

Idris Elba and Naomie Harris in Mandela: the Long Walk to Freedom

She loves gardening and has found peace. Harris expected to be given a laundry list of suggestions. I would if someone was playing me. But Winnie was really cool. I said How do you want to be seen? and she said: I trust you. Come up with the character as you see fit. ‘A warrior as well as a nurturer’: Naomie Harris as Winnie Mandela Their meeting combined with Harriss determination not to be hagiographical is remarkable. Harriss performance allows us to understand how years of intimidation made Winnie mutate from optimistic young woman into a furious leader. Shes so hugely complex, this mixture of tremendous warmth and compassion as well as anger and rage, says Harris. Shes a warrior as well as a nurturer. Filming in South Africa, says Harris, was really intense. There wasnt a place I could draw on from myself, I just had to imagine the sense of injustice I would have felt if Id lived during apartheid.
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Film review: Mandela: Long Walk To Freedom (12A)

Through all the ups and down depicted in the movie, the bond between Mandela (Elba) and his wife Winnie (Naomie Harris) is underscored. Without Elbaas consistently valiant performance, however, Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom would be lost in the narrative demands of covering over seven decades of his life. aI had an instinct about Idris,a maintained Chadwick who met with Elba at an audition in Toronto where the actor was filming the sci-fi epic Pacific Rim. aHeas a very truthful and brave actor, and after a few minutes I knew he was the one.a Elba never had the opportunity to meet with Mandela who was too ill to receive visitors at the time. But Chadwick managed a brief session with the heralded South African months before shooting began, and the Brit filmmaker remembered being amazed by his energy and charisma. The director confirmed that the six-foot-three Elba captured that same vitality, especially in the scenes showcasing Mandela as a decent amateur boxer in his early days. Still, Elba managed lots of creative extra effort, as well. He took dialect lessons from a language coach, and he spent weeks in and around Mandelaas hang outs in South Africa before filming started. a(Idris) came to South Africa and did his research and got underneath the surface of it,a said the director. aHe soaked it up way before we started shooting.a After two months, the actor pulled back from his immersion to let it all sink in. aIt got to the point where I didnat want to do too much research and too much on Nelson Mandela,a said Elba. He admitted that personal details were more valuable than the broad strokes of who Mandela was. For instance, Elba discovered that Mandela was a bit of neat freak.
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Idris Elba rejected mimicry in his portrayal of Mandela

Mandela: Long Walk To Freedom is reverential and respectful, adapted from Mandelas memoirs of the same name by Oscar nominated screenwriter William Nicholson (Gladiator, Shadowlands). There is nothing here to desecrate the memory of the South African statesman, who was a lynchpin in the abolition of apartheid. Equally, Chadwicks gallop through 52 years of turmoil doesnt delve into the minutiae of a flawed human being behind the myth. Its a handsomely crafted yet emotionally underwhelming skim-read of important historical footnotes. Mandelas 27-year incarceration, most of it on Robben Island, accounts for around 40 minutes of the earnest picture but feels considerably longer. The film opens in the Xhosa village of Mandelas youth with a slow-motion tribal ritual that ushers Nelson into manhood. We jump forward to 1942 Johannesburg, where Mandela (Idris Elba) is an idealistic lawyer, whose eyes are gradually opened to the harsh reality of an unfair justice system. He weds nurse Evelyn Mase (Terry Pheto) and they raise a family but the marriage buckles under the strain of his increasing involvement with the African National Congress (ANC). They divorce in 1958 as Mandela and his ANC brothers stand trial for treason the same year he meets, courts and marries social worker Winnie Madikizela (Naomie Harris), who passionately believes in his crusade.
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Biography: Nelson Mandela – Journey to Freedom

Biography: Al Capone - Scarface

In 1960, he organized a paramilitary group to engage in guerrilla warfare against the apartheid government. Although acquitted of treason in 1961, he was subsequently convicted of sabotage and sentenced to life in prison in 1964. Continuing to be a potent symbol in the fight against apartheid, Mandela motivated an international campaign for his release during the 1980s. He was eventually released from prison in 1990, after President F.W. de Klerk lifted a ban on the ANC, removed restrictions on political groups, and suspended executions. In 1991, Mandela was elected president of the African National Congress. He then led the ANC in its pivotal negotiations with President de Klerk for an end to apartheid and the establishment of a multi-racial government. Mandela and de Klerk were jointly awarded the Nobel Prize for peace in 1993. Mandela was elected president in South Africa’s first multi-racial, democratic elections held in 1994. ~ John Patrick Sheehan, Rovi Series Information
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