Naomie Harris And Helmer Justin Chadwick May Join Idris Elba's Mandela Biopic
A movie adaptation of Nelson Mandela's autobiography A Long Walk to Freedom, which focuses on his early life and 27 years in prison, has been in the works so long that Morgan Freeman—now 74—was once attached to play Mandela in his prime. However, ascending leading man Idris Elba recently revealed he is set to portray the anti-apartheid activist in the drama, slated to shoot this May in South Africa. And now, Screen Daily reveals that Naomie Harris and Justin Chadwick have entered negotiations to play Winnie Mandela and direct, respectively. Should they both sign on, this would be the second time Harris and Chadwick collaborated, as he helmed the 2010 Kenyan drama, The First Grader, in which she starred as a devoted educator.
Harris may be best known for her supporting turn in the harrowing zombie thriller 28 Days Later…, though she's also made eye-catching appearances in Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest and Tristram Shandy: A Cock and Bull Story. She's a rising star and a compelling screen presence, so she appears to be a great match for the gravitas that Elba is sure to bring to the film. Chadwick however is a more curious choice.
His biggest project to date was the woefully dull adaptation of the erotic, historical fiction novel The Other Boleyn Girl, which underwhelmed at the box office and was generally panned by critics. Plus, he's a noticeable step down from the directors formerly pursued for the project: Shekhar Kapur, helmed of the Oscar-winning biopic Elizabeth, and Tom Hooper, who won the Oscar for Best Achievement in Directing for his monarch-centered biopic The King's Speech. It seems A Long Walk to Freedom producer Anant Singh, who executive produced Chadwick's First Grader aimed too high before, and is now considering an former colleague who seems more gettable. This doesn't speak highly of the biopic's prospects. Of course Elba is extraordinary, and Harris is promising, but Chadwick's shown he can suck the life and sex appeal out of such charismatic performers as Eric Bana, Scarlett Johansson and Natalie Portman. Personally, I'm hoping Harris signs and Chadwick walks far, far away from A Long Walk to Freedom.
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