Idris Elba and Morgan Freeman pay tribute to Nelson Mandela

Both actors have portrayed politician on the big screen

Idris Elba and Morgan Freeman have paid tribute to Nelson Mandela following his death yesterday evening (December 5).

It was confirmed yesterday that the anti-apartheid activist and South Africa’s first black president had passed away, aged 95, at home in the Johannesburg suburb of Houghton. The Wire and Luther actor Elba, who stars as Mandela in the forthcoming biopic Mandela: Long Walk To Freedom, said in a statement: “What an honour it was to step into the shoes of Nelson Mandela and portray a man who defied odds, broke down barriers, and championed human rights before the eyes of the world. My thoughts and prayers are with his family.”

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“I am stunned at this very moment, in mourning with the rest of the world and Madiba’s family,” he added. “We have lost one of the greatest human beings to have walked this earth, I only feel honoured to be associated with him. He is in a better place now.”

Freeman also played Mandela in the 2009 film Invictus, an account of the political changes facing South Africa at the same time they were hosting the Rugby World Cup. He said: “Today the world lost one of the true giants of the past century. Nelson Mandela was a man of incomparable honour, unconquerable strength, and unyielding resolve – a saint to many, a hero to all who treasure liberty, freedom and the dignity of humankind.

“As we remember his triumphs, let us, in his memory, not just reflect on how far we’ve come, but on how far we have to go. Madiba may no longer be with us, but his journey continues on with me and with all of us.”

Long Walk To Freedom follows Mandela’s journey from his childhood in a rural village through to his imprisonment for sabotage and conspiracy to overthrow the government, subsequent release and his inauguration in 1994 as the first post-apartheid democratically-elected president of South Africa – which was watched by over a billion TV viewers worldwide. You can watch a trailer for the film, which is released on January 3, 2014, by clicking at the bottom of the page.