The Nelson Mandela biopic Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom has found an American distributor in The Weinstein Company. Directed by Justin Chadwick (The Other Boleyn Girl), the film stars Idris Elba (Luther) as Mandela and Naomie Harris (Skyfall) as his wife Winnie.
The film is based on Mandela’s autobiography of the same name, which covers his early life to his political ascendance. Producer Anant Singh had been trying to get the film made for years. Earlier in the film’s life, Les Miserables director Tom Hooper was attached to the project. He’d gone so far as to meet with Mandela in 2009, but scheduling conflicts prevented that from moving forward. Though less of an awards juggernaut, Chadwick was a known quantity for Singh, who’d worked with the director and Harris on the 2010 drama The First Grader.
Shot in South Africa in 16 weeks, principal photography ended in September and the film is expected to be released sometime in 2013. In a statement announcing the acquisition, Friday, TWC co-chairman Harvey Weinstein said “Anant Singh first gave the book to me in 1994, when the first edition came out. We have been talking about making this film since 1999. There have been a number of stop and goes, but sometimes things work out for a reason, and Anant Singh has done a masterful job in producing this epic story of our times. Through Anant and Bob De Niro, I met Nelson Mandela, and it was one of the best experiences of my life.” Are we the only ones who’d love to be a fly on the wall for a meeting between Nelson Mandela, Robert “Bob” De Niro, and Harvey Weinstein?
It’s no secret that we love Idris Elba, and a role like this could mean awards are in his future. But it’s a little too soon to focus on next year’s awards contenders just yet.