Idris Elba struggled with Mandela accent

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Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom is based on South African President Nelson Mandela's autobiography of the same name, which chronicles his early life, coming of age, education and 27 years in prison before becoming President and working to rebuild the country’s once segregated society. Idris Elba (Prometheus) stars as Nelson Mandela, Naomie Harris (Skyfall) stars as Winnie Mandela, with Justin Chadwick (The Other Boleyn Girl) directing.
December 9th, 2013

Idris Elba struggled to perfect Nelson Mandela's accent.

The 41-year-old actor plays the south African president in the biopic about his life, 'Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom', but he admits it took him a long time to learn his dialect.

He said: ''I couldn't do it at the beginning and you know why? because I couldn't understand what he's doing to make him talk like that. And it turns out it's his traditional language, Xhosa.

''When he spoke to people he took pauses. Big pauses. Like that. To make sure they understood every word.''

The British star was also concerned about his appearance because he feared he looked nothing like Mandela - who passed away last Thursday (05.12.13) after his long battle with ill-health - but the director Justin Chadwick was convinced Elba was the right person for the film.

Speaking to the Daily Telegraph newspaper, he explained: ''My worry was I don't look like Mandela. Justin just said, 'Don't worry about it'. But I was saying, 'No one is going to believe me. I am too dark-skinned'. Justin was like, 'It's the presence we want.'''