Idris Elba initially refused to play Nelson Mandela

Idris Elba.
Idris Elba.

IDRIS Elba put the phone down on his agent when he was asked to play Nelson Mandela.

The 41-year-old actor was so worried about being cast as South Africa's first black president in the biopic 'Mandela: Long Walk To Freedom' he refused to consider the idea and he even tried to pass the role onto Morgan Freeman - who played Mandela in 2009 film 'Invictus'.

Speaking in the January issue of Reader's Digest magazine, he said: "You know, I was really, really sensitive [about the role]. My agent called up to ask if I wanted to play Mandela and I put the phone down on him. I was like, no way. Mandela? Couldn't do it.

"You're asking me to play Mandela, do you think I'm going to play a f***ing Disney Mandela? Don't ask me to do that yeah?

"Then I thought to myself, called him back and said, 'Can I be honest? If it's a grey-haired version of the fist-pumping Mandela, I'm not the actor to bring in. I'm not Morgan, go with Morgan."

Idris - who plays a younger version of Mandela showing his struggle as a younger man against apartheid rule in South Africa - is being tipped for an Oscar for Best Actor for his portrayal of the late Nelson Mandela, who died aged 95 last Thursday (05.12.13) following prolonged lung problems.

Topics:  acting editors picks idris elba morgan freeman movies nelson mandela south africa

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