TORONTO — Nelson Mandela,who passed away Thursday at 95, lived an extraordinary life. It’s no wonder, then, he has been portrayed in a number of films and TV shows.
The latest depiction of the former South African president is by British actor Idris Elba in Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom.
“It’s a real picture postcard of his life, and I’m proud of it,” Elba told the Guardian. “Anyone wanting to understand who Mandela was should go and watch my film.”
Elba said Mandela saw the film. “I wasn’t with him, but I got told that he was really happy.”
Another British actor who has portrayed Mandela is David Harewood, who starred in the 2010 TV movie Mrs. Mandela.
“It wasn’t emotionally harrowing, it was just very inspiring,” Harewood said of the role. “To see how far South Africa has come and to see empowered black people was very very inspiring.”
Several American actors have also played Mandela, including Terrence Howard in the 2011 biopic Winnie, which screened at the Toronto International Film Festival, and Sidney Poitier in the 1997 TV movie Mandela and de Klerk.
The New York Times said of Poitier’s portrayal: “He creates a subtle portrait of South Africa’s president as a man and a savvy politician, and he does so against enormous obstacles.”
Dennis Haysbert starred as Mandela in Goodbye Bafana, a 2007 film that told the true story of the white racist who guarded the South African leader in prison.
“Every night I went home, I would have a glass of wine and just cry,” Haysbert once said about playing Mandela. “The sacrifices he made were profoundly sad to me.”
In 2009’s Invictus, Morgan Freeman embodied Mandela. He recently told Global News anchor Leslie Roberts what it was like to meet the iconic man.
“Try to imagine what you would say to God if you happened to be in the same room that he walked into,” Freeman explained, adding that he said to the former South African president: “I’m very pleased to meet you, sir.”
Danny Glover, who starred in the titular role in the 1987 TV movie Mandela, told an interviewer about his personal relationship with Mandela.
“He often calls me his son,” Glover said. “I’m sure I’m one of many … that would be honoured to be referred to as his son.”
Here’s a look at some of the men who have played Mandela on screen: