Who doesn’t like Idris Elba? He’s often one of the best parts of any project he’s associated with, and Pacific Rim is no different. In the film he stars as the leader of the international robot resistance force. With that and his recent role in Prometheus one might think Elba is committing himself to sci-fi films. However, he will also be playing a major historical figure, Nelson Mandela, in an upcoming film. Elba spoke about the casting of Pacific Rim and the honor of playing Mandela.
Elba points out that Pacific Rim director Guillermo del Toro specifically chose to cast actors better known for their television work than movie stars. He explains, “The days of movie stars, so to speak, is just behind us. What is a movie star? We’ve got people on the Internet that are bigger than television stars. I think the landscape is changing a little bit … Before there were movie stars. There were people who were just actors and they said their lines and they became movie stars because people liked them. For me, I think that’s the healthy way to make film.”
In a major departure from his usual work, Elba portrays Nelson Mandela in the upcoming film Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom. Elba found it an honor to play such a crucial figure in world history. He says, “It meant so much to me, it’s such a massive opportunity to be part of a true legend’s life, and more importantly, the film re-educates people on this legend. I never met Mr. Mandela because he was very ill, so our interpretation of him was without his personal influence. But the script is such a good script, and obviously it comes from his book, and the book speaks for itself.”
He adds, “This is the first real biopic I’ve done, and there’s no real difference in the process, but it’s Mr. Mandela. So that’s huge, everyone knows who he is and what he sounds like, and I look nothing like him. If I get judged, which I will, about my performance or how I sound or how I look, I think people miss the point.”