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“Winnie” Director On Why Winnie Mandela Wasn’t Consulted For Biopic, Casting Jennifer Hudson + More

"Winnie" Director On Why Winnie Mandela Wasn't Consulted For Biopic, Casting Jennifer Hudson + More

Nice lengthy interview from with Darrell Roodt, director of Winnie, the much-discussed, though not well-received (thus far) biopic on the life of Winnie Mandela, starring Jennifer Hudson and Terrence Howard.

The interview took place at TIFF, where the film screened earlier this month.

In it, Roodt answers questions that many of us have wondered on this site, notably, why the real Winnie Mandela wasn’t consulted in the making of the film, as well as why J-Hud and Terrence Howard were cast in their respective roles.

Here’s a snip:

On why Winnie wasn’t consulted, Root says:

I thought it was a prudent thing to do and the producer said not. He said, “If you get her endorsement, then you’re dead in the water because there’s a perception of Winnie.” So he constantly said, “It’s not a film for Winnie. It’s a film about Winnie.” Ultimately is it for her or not? That’s up to the audience to decide… It was a tricky thing to do because there was nothing more that I wanted. It would’ve been amazing if I in preproduction could have gotten those two together in a room, Winnie and Jennifer. Jennifer would have certainly been inspired. However, she might have been too inspired by her and sometimes it’s not best to meet the person that you’re going to bring to life.

And on why Jennifer and Terrence were cast:

I aimed at them both straightaway. I went to both of them and that’s a true story. They didn’t go through the casting roster and say, “Who do you want?” I said I wanted Jennifer Hudson and I wanted Terrence Howard. And Andre [Pieterse], the good producer that he is, got them for me. We only had a limited budget so we could only pay them a little amount but they came to do it.

So, there ya have it. Reactions? I know a lot of you took issue with the fact that Winnie wasn’t consulted for the film. Are you ok with his reasons for why they didn’t consult her?

No distribution prospects for the film yet.

Head over to for the full interview HERE.

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I agree with the filmmaker why should Winnie be consulted? Winnie would only want her life story to make her look good. Winnie Mandela of course is an important black feminist icon. However, the truth is Winnie Mandela has done a lot of controversial things during her life time. The fact is, Winnie Mandela is a controversial figure in South African history. Winnie has a dark history and also an amazing icon she is both. Does anyone really think Winnie would want the world to know she had a 14 year old South African boy murdered? I think if Winnie was involved she would change the biopic to make her look better. This is the danger of having the primary source involved in biopics she would probably sugarcoat her life story. Would Winnie want the world to know when Nelson was in jail she had an affair with a white Afrikaans man? Would Winnie really look like the mother of the ANC then?

Of course, Jennifer Hudson an Oscar winning actress was chosen what was the director going to do cast someone unknown South African? Hollywood is a business and Jennifer is a star. Terrance Howard was a good choice for Mandela he actually looks like Mandela and he is a good actor, The budget for this movie is actually low only $15 million. I hope this movie does get released. I read some reviews and Jennifer was praised for her acting.


It is a stupid answer to a very important question. I’m surprised the journalists didn’t push further with follow-up questions.

No matter what one thinks of Winnie, she is living and a good filmmaker would insist to speak to her. You’re not making a documentary but the details of someone’s life is very very important. Even if politically you don’t agree with the subject, you at least hear them out. What a waste. I’ve enjoyed some of Roodt’s film in the past but he won’t be forgiven for this miscalculation.

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