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This is shaping up to be a major year for Idris Elba. Fresh off his Golden Globe win for the sharp BBC sleuth series Luther, the devastatingly handsome British leading man dove into production on Guillermo del Toro's Pacific Rim. Though that sci-fi adventure won't hit theaters until 2013, Elba will soon be seen in Ridley Scott's Alien-inspired horror-thriller Prometheus, which opens June 8th. However, it was during the press tour for his latest effort, Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance, that Idris teased an altogether different feature, which he called his "big project this year."
What could possibly be bigger than working with two of contemporary cinema's most exciting sci-fi crafters on two hotly anticipated big-budget adventures? Why, playing renowned anti-apartheid activist turned South African president Nelson Mandela in a soon-to-shoot biopic. Elba gave Hip Hollywood the details:
"I'm gonna' go play Nelson Mandela in Long Walk To Freedom, an autobiographical work written by Nelson Mandela himself, which highlights his early life, coming of age, education and 27 years in prison…That's where my head is geared to this summer."
This will put Elba on a distinguished list of actors who have portrayed the heralded humanitarian that includes Danny Glover, Dennis Haysbert, Sidney Poitier, and Morgan Freeman. It's a role that is inherently intimidating with shoes that are frightfully hard to fill. Still, Elba seems completely fit for the part. Of course, he has proven time and time again to be an incredibly powerful performer and talented actor, so tackling the tale of Mandela should be well within his abilities. But Elba also has this incorrigible spirit that radiates through every effort be it comedy (The Office) or drama (The Wire). He, like Mandela, is intensely affable, and this mixed with his remarkable dramatic chops should lend to one of the best Mandela portrayals yet, if not the best.