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Idris Elba's Nelson Mandela Biopic Picked Up By The Weinstein Co.

Political activist and former President of South Africa Nelson Mandela has been portrayed a handful of times in cinema over the past few decades, most notably by Sidney Poitier, Dennis Haysbert, and the ever-serene Morgan Freeman. Next to take that mantle is British actor Idris Elba, who will hopefully bring to the role the simmering strength of his Stringer Bell character from HBO’s The Wire.

But Elba won’t have to worry about slinging the film on urban street corners, as Deadline reports the Weinstein Co. has acquired the rights to the adaptation of Mandela’s autobiography Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom. The film is directed by Justin Chadwick (The Other Boleyn Girl, The First Grader) from a script written by Academy Award nominee William Nicholson (Les Miserables, Gladiator).

The project is the result of many years of hard work, as producer Anant Singh first contacted Mandela about adapting the autobiography while Mandela was still in prison, and received the book’s rights in 1996. “Anant Singh is a producer I respect very much,” says Mandela. “Given the resources and backing, he will produce a work of the highest standards and excellence, and it is for that reason, I opted for him.”

“I’m extremely passionate about Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom,” Weinstein says. “Anant Singh first gave the book to me in 1994…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.”

While there’s no release information about the film, which shot its principal photography in South Africa from May-September 2012, check back with us for more about what’s certain to be a future Oscar contender.

Nick Venable

Nick is a Cajun Country native, and is often asked why he doesn't sound like that's the case. His love for his wife and daughters is almost equaled by his love of gasp-for-breath laughter and gasp-for-breath horror. A lifetime spent in the vicinity of a television screen led to his current dream job, as well as his knowledge of too many TV themes and ad jingles.