Naomie Harris: Mandela Film Was Intimidating; She Plays Winnie

Image: Naomie Harris: Mandela Film Was Intimidating; She Plays Winnie

Tuesday, 10 Sep 2013 01:24 PM

By Clyde Hughes

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Actress Naomie Harris said it was a "blessing" to have the approval of the Mandela family in the making of "Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom."

The movie was shown at the Toronto International Film Festival this week. Harris said the highlight of making the film was getting to meet Winnie Madikizela-Mandela, the ex-wife of Nelson Mandela.

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"I was incredibly intimidated meeting her," Harris said, according to The Canadian Press. "I thought, 'Gosh, this formidable woman and what’s she going to think about me playing her.'"

"I’d been researching her in her 40s; that was the time when she was at the height of being the most active and most political and violent as well," Harris added. "So I was expecting that same woman, but of course she’s 76 now and she’s an older, frailer woman and has found greater peace and is not such an activist anymore."

Similarly, Academy Award-winning actress Jennifer Hudson told The Hollywood Reporter last week she felt intimidated as she prepared for her leading role in the film "Winnie Mandela" about the iconic leader's life, which made hit theaters Sept. 6 and first made its debut at the Toronto Film Festival in 2011.

"Hearing them speak of her, some of them would break down crying," Hudson said of her experience talking to South Africans about ex-wife of Nelson Mandela. "They would talk for hours and I'm like, 'Wow.' That intimidated me. I literally gave myself a good talking to, like, 'OK, look, you are in this or you are not going to be in it.'"

"Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom" is based on Mandela’s 1994 autobiography. The story explores his struggles leading the anti-apartheid movement, his 27-year imprisonment, and his climb to becoming president of South Africa.

The movie also focuses on his marriage to Madikizela-Mandela, a strong-minded and polarizing South African politician who headed the African National Congress Women’s League.

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Related stories:


Mandela's Lesson of Forgiveness


South Africa: Mandela Unstable at Times

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