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Idris Elba's 'Mandela' Picked Up By Weinstein Company (2014 Oscars Looks Big For Black Actors)

Photo of Tambay A. Obenson By Tambay A. Obenson | Shadow and Act February 22, 2013 at 10:11AM

If Harvey Weinstein wants it, he seems to usually get it; and if he gets it, you can also usually guarantee that it'll go wherever he wants it to go - and that often means doing strong box office (relative to budget), and excelling during awards season.
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Idris Nelson

If Harvey Weinstein wants it, he seems to usually get it; and if he gets it, you can also usually guarantee that it'll go wherever he wants it to go - and that often means doing strong box office (relative to budget), and excelling during awards season.

So that should bode well for Idris Elba's Nelson Mandela biopic, Mandela: Long Walk To Freedom, which the Weinstein Company has acquired North American, Australian and New Zealand rights to, announced early this morning.

A project we've been following since inception, directed by Justin Chadwick, and co-starring Naomie Harris as Mandela's wife, Winnie, the film is based on Nelson Mandela's autobiography of the same name, and is said to currently be in post-production. 

The autobiographical work, highlights Mandela's early life, coming of age, education and 27 years in prison.

The project will reportedly have an "epic sweep," from a script written by GladiatorShadowlands and Les Miserables writer William Nicholson.

By the way, director Chadwick and Harris have worked before in the 2010 drama The First Grader about a Kenyan villager and ex Mau Mau freedom fighter.

Shot for 16 weeks in Cape Town, Johannesburg and the Eastern Cape, the film also features South African actors Tony Kgoroge, Riaad Moosa, Zolani Mkiva, Jamie Bartlett, Lindiwe Matshikiza, Deon Lotz and Terry Pheto.

While being very supportive of the project from the very start, I've always said that I couldn't immediately picture Idris Elba as Nelson Mandela, and I'm really looking forward to seeing some footage of this, so I can finally see how Idris transforms himself.

The project has been kept tightly underwraps it seems. No pics, no footage, no leaks, no nothing. Except for a single photo that was supposedly of Idris and Naomie in character, but from the rear. So, I'm just as in the dark as most of you are.

Keep in mind that this makes for the second feature length film with a black lead picked up by The Weinstein Company, which trades believe will be pushed during awards season. The other film is Fruitvale, which the company picked up at the Sundance Film Festival last month. So, might we be looking at at least 2 black actors who'll be competing for the Best Actor Oscar next year? And let's not forget Chiwetel Ejiofor in Twelve Years A Slave, which will be out later this year, which could make that 3 black actors in the running!


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