5 Stars Who’ve Portrayed Nelson Mandela on Screen

December 6, 2013 By:
5 Stars Who’ve Portrayed Nelson Mandela on Screen
Image By: Getty Images / Gareth Davies

The world lost a revolutionary yesterday, the iconic Nelson Mandela at the age of 95. His native nation and the rest of us mourn his passing, but his powerful story lives on with various films that have covered his extraordinary character.

Here are five stars who had A LOT to live up to with their portrayals of the former President of South Africa:

1. Idris Elba in Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom

Coincidentally, this film just opened this weekend, the news of Mandela’s death reaching the London premiere as it was happening yesterday. Based on the activist’s own autobiography, Idris tells a comprehensive portrait of Mandela—from his early life to his 27-year imprisonment.

2. Terrence Howard in Winnie

Last year, we saw a different side of Mandela through the eyes of his first wife Winnie Madikizela-Mandela. Jennifer Hudson had the task of capturing Winnie, a controversial activist, opposite Terrence as Mandela.

3. Morgan Freeman in Invictus

Probably the most high-profile of the five on this list, Academy Award winner Morgan was cast as Nelson in Clint Eastwood’s critically-acclaimed film that combined sports with drama and history to shed light on the events of South Africa’s apartheid.

4. Dennis Haysbert in Goodbye Bafana

In this intimate and intense story about prejudice in South Africa, Joseph Fiennes tells the true story of a racist prison guard who had the duty of closely surveying one black prisoner for 20 years. That prisoner was Nelson Mandela, as played by Dennis.

5. Sidney Poitier in Mandela and de Klerk

From one late legend to another, Sidney dramatizes the sequence of events that led to his release as it relates to his relationship with then-President F.W. de Klerk, portrayed by Michael Caine.