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Weinstein Company Takes Biopic 'Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom,' Starring Idris Elba: Oscar Fodder?

Photo of Beth Hanna By Beth Hanna | Thompson on Hollywood February 22, 2013 at 11:56AM

The Weinstein Company has acquired all North American, Australian and New Zealand distribution rights to the Nelson Mandela biopic "Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom." The film stars Idris Elba ("Prometheus," "The Wire") in the title role of the former South African president and anti-apartheid revolutionary, and Naomie Harris ("Skyfall") as Mandela's wife of 39 years, Winnie.
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Idris Elba
Idris Elba

The Weinstein Company has acquired all North American, Australian and New Zealand distribution rights to the Nelson Mandela biopic "Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom." The film stars Idris Elba ("Prometheus," "The Wire") in the title role of the former South African president and anti-apartheid revolutionary, and Naomie Harris ("Skyfall") as Mandela's wife of 39 years, Winnie.

Tony Kgoroge, Riaad Moosa, Zolani Mkiva, Jamie Bartlett, Lindiwe Matshikiza, Deon Lotz and Terry Pheto co-star.

The film is based on Mandela's autobiography of the same title, and is directed by Justin Chadwick ("The First Grader," "The Other Boleyn Girl"). Producer Anant Singh started communications with Mandela about a film based on his life while he was still in prison, and acquired film rights to the book at the time of its 1996 publication. The long-gestating project eventually signed Oscar nominee William Nicholson ("Les Miserables," "Gladiator") to pen the script.

"Mandela: A Long Walk to Freedom" was shot on location in Cape Town, Johannesburg and the Eastern Cape in South Africa. It wrapped shooting in September 2012.

No word yet on US distribution plans. But presumably Harvey Weinstein is adding this project to his year-end Oscar playbook.

This article is related to: News, The Weinstein Co., News, Idris Elba, Naomie Harris, Justin Chadwick


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Thompson on Hollywood

Born and raised in Manhattan, Anne Thompson grew up going to the Thalia and The New Yorker and wound up at grad Cinema Studies at NYU. She worked at United Artists and Film Comment before heading west as that magazine's west coast editor. She wrote for the LA Weekly, Sight and Sound, Empire, The New York Times and Entertainment Weekly before serving as West Coast Editor of Premiere. She wrote for The Washington Post, The London Observer, Wired, More, and Vanity Fair, and did staff stints at The Hollywood Reporter and Variety. She eventually took her blog Thompson on Hollywood to Indiewire. She taught film criticism at USC Critical Studies, and continues to host the fall semester of “Sneak Previews” for UCLA Extension.