'Reliable sources' say the star of 'The Wire' is close to signing on

Idris Elba is being lined up to star as Nelson Mandela in an “official” biopic of the former South African leader.

The actor, who made his name playing drug boss Stringer Bell in The Wire, has reportedly taken on the role, with movie blog Flickering Myth quoting “reliable sources” that a deal is close to being finalised.

As well as The Wire, Elba currently stars as BBC crime thriller Luther, and his movie credits include 28 Weeks Later, American Gangster and Obsessed. He recently expressed an interest in taking over the role of James Bond from Daniel Craig.

Previous actors to play Mandela on the big screen include Terrence Howard in Winnie and Morgan Freeman in Invictus. Before Elba’s name came up, actors including Will Smith and Denzel Washington had been linked to the iconic role.

Production on the film is expected to begin in 2012.