Naomie Harris: Winne Mandela was hardest role of my career

January 7th, 2014

Naomie Harris admits playing Winnie Mandela was ''the hardest role'' she's ever played in her career.

The 'Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom' actress struggled to portray the former wife of the late Nelson Mandela - who passed away last month - because of her controversial ways.

She said: ''I was terrified at the mountain I had to climb to play this woman and discover who she is. It's definitely the hardest role I've ever played in my career.''

However, the 37-year-old star insists meeting her alter-ego in person helped her get into the role more.

Speaking to Empire magazine, she explained: ''It helped me enormously [meeting her]. I asked her how she wanted to be portrayed and I fully expected her to say, 'I want to be portrayed as a saint, as Mother Africa.' But she didn't. She said, 'You do your research, and all I ask is that you play me truthfully.'

''That was really liberating, because suddenly I felt ownership of all that material. I felt free as well. Our producers had very strong views about who Winnie is and how she should be portrayed, and I was influenced by that. But having her say to me, 'Be free, just tell the truth,' that gave me such a sense of liberation. I didn't feel influenced by anyone else's [opinion] at all after that. I felt I could really find her voice myself.''