Well, it looks like its a definite go now; Pathe International has reportedly come on board to financially back Idris Elba’s Nelson Mandela biopic (along with South Africa-based Distant Horizon, which they are desribing as “the largest South African production ever mounted!“
Is that so? I’m not sure if they mean largest as in budget, scope, or both. We’ll find out eventually.
A production start date has been set for May 26th this year, with Justin Chadwick directing from a script based on Long Walk to Freedom – the autobiographical work written by Nelson Mandela himself, which highlights his early life, coming of age, education and 27 years in prison.
Last we reported, Naomie Harris was said to be “in talks” to star as Winnie Mandela opposite Idris Elba’s as Nelson Mandela in the new biopic officially announced a few weeks ago, though it had been in development for some time; I assume she’s in, even though I haven’t read/heard any official word on that.
The project will reportedly have an “epic sweep,” from a script written by Gladiator, Shadowlands and Les Miserables writer William Nicholson.
By the way, director Chadwick and Harris have worked before in the 2010 drama The First Grader about a Kenyan villager and ex Mau Mau freedom fighter.
Of course, if/when this finally is complete, comparisons to the Jennifer Hudson/Terence Howard Winnie Mandela biopic are bound to happen; although this one with Elba, Harris, Chadwick and screenwriter Nicholson certainly has more promise.
But I’m STILL having difficulty imagining Idris as Mandela; not that I’m questioning his abilities; I’m just trying to picture him in the part, and can’t quite see it. Maybe when we get early looks at the film, via still images, clips, or a trailer, I’ll be comforted.