12/05/2013 06:28 pm ET Updated Jan 25, 2014

Idris Elba: 'What An Honor It Was To Step Into The Shoes Of Nelson Mandela'

Andy Kropa/Invision/AP

Idris Elba is the most recent actor to portay Nelson Mandela, and the "Mandela: Long Walk To Freedom" star released a statement following the South African leader's death on Thursday at the age of 95:

What an honor it was to step into the shoes of Nelson Mandela and portray a man who defied odds, broke down barriers, and championed human rights before the eyes of the world. My thoughts and prayers are with his family.

The new film, which debuted in limited release on Nov. 27 and was produced by The Weinstein Company, is based on Mandela's own autobiography, "Long Walk To Freedom." According to producer Anant Singh, Mandela saw a scene from the movie before his death, and was delighted with Elba's portrayal.

“He saw Idris Elba as the old Mandela in the Mandela prosthetics and he says, 'Is that me?'" Singh recalled to Variety. "And it was very cute and he smiled and laughed, so it was very good."

Harvey Weinstein, TWC co-chairman, also released a statement about Mandela's death:

One of the privileges of making movies is having the opportunity to immortalize those who have made a profound impact on humanity. We count ourselves unspeakably fortunate to have been immersed in Nelson Mandela’s story and legacy. It’s been an honor to have been granted such proximity to a man who will go down as one of history’s greatest freedom fighters and advocates for justice. I have had the privilege of spending time with President Mandela and I can say his sense of humor was as great as his optimism. We are deeply saddened by his loss; our hearts go out to his family and the entire South African nation.

More on Mandela can be found here.



Nelson Mandela (Captions by AP)