Portraying Nelson Mandela in a motion picture has been a badge of honor among some of Hollywood’s elite actors in recent years.
In 2009, moviegoers saw Morgan Freeman playing the influential leader during his first term as South Africa’s president in Clint Eastwood’s “Invictus,” not to mention Terrence Howard and Idris Elba’s much talked about portrayals in “Winnie” and “Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom.”
Helming such an iconic role is a “massive honor,” according to Elba who opened up about the project to London newspaper, “The Independent.”
"To call the prospect of playing Nelson Mandela intimidating would be to put it lightly. But it's a massive honor to play this saint amongst men,” the former “Wire” star confessed. “I was honestly confused about why they came to me. I thought, 'You can't be serious! You chose me out of everyone you could have gone to?' Then I found out that Nelson Mandela was into The Wire.”
“I thought, 'It's amazing – he might have kicked back and watched the Wire box set!' The role was definitely the biggest challenge of my life. I look and sound nothing like the man – but hopefully I've pulled it off."
In memory of Nelson Mandela’s legacy, we decided to highlight reactions to his passing from various public figures (below), in addition to a video montage (above) featuring films that were based on the charismatic leader.
(Video montage edited by: Samuel Wilkes)
"Let us pause and give thanks for the fact that Nelson Mandela lived." —President Obama
— Barack Obama (@BarackObama) December 5, 2013
Remembering Nelson Mandela today, in his passing, a true pioneer and inspiration in my life. I am… http://t.co/5MnElvcDzT
— Rev Jesse Jackson Sr (@RevJJackson) December 6, 2013
I'm hearing about Nelson Mandela's death while on African soil in Oran, Algeria. Sending prayers to Mandela's family. pic.twitter.com/i5ONBP9Xez
— Mike Tyson (@MikeTyson) December 5, 2013
1 was convinced Nelson Mandela would NEVER get out of prison. When he did, and became President, I decided right then anything was possible.
— Michael Moore (@MMFlint) December 5, 2013
My heart aches!! Rest in Peace Nelson Mandela....
— Tia Mowry (@TiaMowry) December 5, 2013
A remarkable man and an inspiration to all. Remembering #NelsonMandela
— Barbara Walters (@BarbaraJWalters) December 5, 2013
Nelson Mandela was a beacon of strength and a true inspiration to us all. RIP Nelson Mandela.
— David Otunga (@DavidOtunga) December 5, 2013
Nelson Mandela has died, but his spirit lives forever. http://t.co/58Rj5Ma9CB
— Kevin Powell (@kevin_powell) December 5, 2013
Meeting Nelson Mandela at his house in Johannesburg was a truly memorable moment in life for me. He was an angel. pic.twitter.com/PaIX362rYX
— Fergie (@Fergie) December 5, 2013
My Condolences to family and close friends of Nelson Mandela. God bless you all.
— DeionSanders (@DeionSanders) December 5, 2013
My condolences to a great man, Nelson Mandela. A life truly well lived. R.I.P.
— Keith Sweat (@OGKeithSweat) December 5, 2013
A great hero of our time @NelsonMandela has transitioned, leaving an indelible mark for the potential of greatness in all of us.
— Deepak Chopra (@DeepakChopra) December 5, 2013
Saddened to hear the passing of @NelsonMandela. History cannot contain the lasting impact of his unparalleled force for change
— TD Jakes (@BishopJakes) December 5, 2013
A true genuine LEGEND =NELSON MANDELA May he RIP http://t.co/6Csl2z5w2t
— Dick Vitale (@DickieV) December 5, 2013
Nelson Mandela #OppressionFighter. Beacon of Peace. May he rest in peace.
— Ali Shaheed Muhammad (@AliShaheed) December 5, 2013
Nelson Mandela bless you, your inspirational workings and your long virtuous life, #RIP
— Jay Pharoah (@JayPharoah) December 5, 2013
#NelsonMandela you made your people proud!! We'll always love you for it!
— Rihanna (@rihanna) December 5, 2013
— Diddy (@iamdiddy) December 5, 2013
On Nelson Mandela's passing -- http://t.co/pUftwHMqCq
— Condoleezza Rice (@CondoleezzaRice) December 5, 2013
Thank you Nelson Mandela. All the best on your transition.
— Nasir Jones (@Nas) December 5, 2013
Honored that I had a chance to meet this amazing influential being & to participate in his 46664 Aids… http://t.co/Uz2afj0C6O
— Ludacris (@Ludacris) December 5, 2013
RIP Nelson Mandela.
— Donald Faison (@donald_faison) December 5, 2013
“The greatest glory in living lies not in never falling, but in rising every time we fall.” RIP Nelson Mandela
— Russell Simmons (@UncleRUSH) December 5, 2013
One of our GREATEST leaders... Thank you for BEING the true meaning of compassion. May you be at peace now. #RIPNelsonMandela
— Justin Timberlake (@jtimberlake) December 5, 2013
— KELENDRIA ROWLAND (@KELLYROWLAND) December 5, 2013
— John Legend (@johnlegend) December 5, 2013
Nelson Mandela. What a difference one person can make. #RestEternally
— LL COOL J (@llcoolj) December 5, 2013
A true fighter in every sense of the word... MANDELA!
— QTip (@QtipTheAbstract) December 5, 2013
news we have dreaded for so long nelson mandela is gone will never be anyone like HIM. He changed the world best of all he changed hearts
— Gayle King (@GayleKing) December 5, 2013
Wow! a freedom fighter, a hero, a leader, a Man of God. Rest in Peace Mr. @NelsonMandela
— Jacob Latimore (@jacoblatimore) December 5, 2013
— Stephen Marley (@stephenmarley) December 5, 2013
— Melissa Harris-Perry (@MHarrisPerry) December 5, 2013
Our great champion of Freedom Justice & Equality has made his physical departure today. #NelsonMandela may your light never be extinguished
— RZA! (@RZA) December 5, 2013
Today we lost the world's greatest advocate for peace and change. Nelson Mandela was a hero to so many. Rest in peace.
— Ellen DeGeneres (@TheEllenShow) December 5, 2013
— KevinLiles.com (@KevinLiles1) December 5, 2013
We mourn the passing of a great statesman, an incredible human being, a man of peace, Nelson Mandela… http://t.co/detdO2CUy8
— sheryl lee ralph (@thesherylralph) December 5, 2013
“To be free is not merely to cast off one’s chains, but to live in a way that respects and enhances the freedom of others.” - #NelsonMandela
— jesseWilliams. (@iJesseWilliams) December 5, 2013
Rest in Peace Mr. Nelson Mandela. A fearless leader, incredible human being, inspiration, a REAL hero. Truly one of a kind. God bless you.
— Jamie Foxx (@iamjamiefoxx) December 5, 2013
RIP Nelson Mandela. You are now truly free. God Bless and enjoy the heavens. Tell Celia Cruz hello for me and azucaaaaarrrr
— Pitbull (@Pitbull) December 5, 2013
Every time Melinda and I met Nelson Mandela, we left more inspired than ever. His grace and courage changed the world. This is a sad day.
— Bill Gates (@BillGates) December 5, 2013
And so it was written. And so it was done. RIP Nelson Mandela pic.twitter.com/WoLfEhBUzT
— Melissa De Sousa (@1MelissaDeSousa) December 5, 2013
Bishop T.D. Jakes’ Statement:
"I am deeply saddened to have lost such an enduring symbol of freedom and liberty; Nelson Mandela was an elder statesman who embodied the very essence of a servant-leader. History cannot contain the lasting impact of such an extraordinary life. Rather, his exceptionalism will live in the hearts and minds of those of us who were fortunate enough to have witnessed his greatness. There are few words capable of encapsulating the measure of such a masterful life, except to impart this departing dispatch: 'Well done Madiba, well done!"
Tom Joyner’s Statement:
“I’m blessed and honored to have lived in an era when so many great men and women have walked this earth. They are people who have taken risks, and sacrificed everything, sometimes their basic comforts, sometimes their families and sometimes their lives for the greater good. I don’t know what makes one person upset about injustice and another so outraged that they make it their life’s mission to right a wrong.
Dr. Martin Luther King, a young preacher who couldn’t tolerate racial and economic injustice, Fannie Lou Hamer, a share cropper who fought her way from the fields of Mississippi to the Democratic National convention in Atlantic City to testify about black people being denied to their right to vote.
Then there is President Mandela whose stance against apartheid sent him to prison for 27 years. He survived that, was released and led his nation in a battle to fight human rights abuse, poverty, poor health conditions, and the epidemic of HIV/AIDS.
From the moment I saw him back in the mid 90s, I knew I was in the presence of real greatness and I knew that the day was coming when I would be paying this kind of tribute to him. I had no idea it would be almost 20 years later. I’m amazed that a man who had been through so much and in such inhumane conditions could still have so much left to give to humanity. But he had work to do, and he didn’t stop until he couldn’t do anymore…”