Idris Elba’s film Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom premiered at the Toronto International Film Festival to a standing ovation for the cast, which features Idris in the title role.
At a press conference for the film, Idris said he was unable to meet with the man he portrays due the South African icon’s fragile state.
“Like everybody, we’ve been concerned for his health, but keeping ourselves optimistic, and our prayers go to his family,” the star said.
The film, directed by Justin Chadwick, takes a classical, inspirational biopic approach to telling the epic tale of Mandela’s life story.
Elba, famous for his role as gangster Stringer Bell on The Wire, has a much larger frame than Mandela, Chadwick said he was “the brave choice” for the role.
“We’re not going for a looky-likey, soundy-likey version of Mandela,” Chadwick told reporters after the premier. “We’re trying to catch the spirit.”